Have you ever wondered how to foster healthy physical development in your homeschool? We often hear about nurturing cognitive development and even social and emotional intelligence. However, physical wellness is also an essential part of a child’s total development. It is one of the tenets of whole-child learning that supports cognitive, social, and emotional development in children. Keep reading to discover how you can help your scholar thrive physically and boost their intelligence in the process.
What is Physical Development?
Physical development refers to a child’s ability to use and control their bodies. I’ve already mentioned that physical development plays a huge role in the full scope of a child’s development. But why? Physical health and wellness—as well as the development of critical motor skills—directly affect cognition, social and emotional intelligence, and even creativity. A physically healthy and active child not only learns better but tends to be more emotionally stable and socially intelligent. Likewise, since creative play fosters physical development, a physically healthy child also tends to be more creative.
So, how can we foster healthy physical development in our homeschool? Here are some simple, yet effective ways:
1. Start your homeschool day with physical activity.
Did you know that physical activity improves academic performance, concentration, and even behavior in children? For this reason, we decided to start our homeschool days off with physical activity. I can attest that this method works! It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. My kids love jumping on the trampoline, riding their bikes and scooters, or just running wild outside.
Remember to invest in weather-appropriate clothing like snowsuits, rain jackets, and waterproof boots so that your children can enjoy physical activity outdoors year-round. If the weather is inclement, Youtube offers many videos for indoor physical activities. We enjoy Moe Jones’ fitness channel. You can also purchase child-friendly fitness equipment for your home if you haven’t already. We have a punching bag, pilates machine, jump ropes, and light free weights for our boys to make use of indoors.
2. Incorporate physical education into your lessons.
Understanding the importance of physical health and activity is a surefire way to reduce power struggles in your homeschool. I find my children give me less resistance when it’s time to play outside because they understand that their bodies need physical activity to function at their best. If you’re unsure how to begin teaching physical education to your children, Amazon has many physical education books and units.
Another way to incorporate physical education into your homeschool is to teach your children how to read food labels and opt for healthier alternatives. I mean, is a trip to the grocery store ever really just a trip to the grocery store for homeschooling families? The local market is the perfect classroom to learn about the foods we put into our bodies. It’s also an excellent opportunity for our children to have more autonomy in choosing the healthy foods that go on their plates—which means less food waste.
3. Do something physically challenging each week.
This tip goes beyond just doing physical activity. Challenging the physical body is a great way to promote health and critical motor skills that benefit brain function. Therefore, encourage your children to do something physically challenging every week. Practice learning how to play a new sport or how to ride a bike. For little ones, the challenge can be as simple as learning how to tie their shoelaces, which takes much fine motor skill practice for those tiny hands.
My youngest son is currently trying to beat his running record. He times himself running from one end of the yard to the other. My other son is learning to play football and mastering his throwing and catching skills. I’ve learned these challenges give children something to work toward and reduce the “I’m bored” crisis they often encounter after formal homeschool hours.
4. Play an organized sport.
If you’d like to take the hands-off approach to physical development, enrolling your child in an organized sport is the way to go. They’ll also build team-building and social skills, which is a bonus. If you’re new to homeschooling or you may not be sure where to begin, start with your local schools. Many local schools allow homeschoolers to register for their sport’s teams. Upward Sports, a nationwide sports program, is also an excellent program for homeschoolers to take advantage of. The program offers soccer, basketball, football, and cheerleading. Be sure to research Upward Spots to see if they have one in your neck of the woods.
5. Practice Healthy Eating.
Diet plays a vital role in physical and cognitive development. It plays a massive role in a child’s behavior as well. Children with well-balanced diets are healthier, more active, and have better academic performance and improved behavior. You don’t have to prepare perfect meals or even spend a ton of money. Just make sure something colorful and grown from the earth is on your child’s plate each mealtime.
Starting your child’s day with a protein-rich meal is probably one of the most beneficial things you can do for their cognitive function. Protein is the second-largest matter in the brain, second only to water, so it is essential to nourish your child’s brain with protein-rich foods to help them thrive. A protein-rich diet means better concentration and overall academic performance during lesson time.
6. Make It a Family Affair.
Chances are, you need physical health and wellness just as much as your children do. Make it a family affair and incorporate self-care seamlessly into your homeschool day. If you have older children, go for a family hike, daily family walks, bike rides, or visit the local park and let your child play at the playground while you do an outdoor workout.
It can be challenging to find time to exercise with younger children, but something as simple as baby-wearing during a morning stroll or taking a pull wagon for toddlers to rest when they get tired of walking is a great way to stay physically active as a family with littles. You might not sweat, but the vitamin D from the sun and the circulation from your walk are indeed doing your body and mental health much good.
Lastly, cooking healthy meals together is another great way to make physical health and wellness a family affair. In addition, you are giving your children the gift of learning a life skill that will benefit them well into adulthood.