We're in England. I live with my husband and our 9 year old and 5 year old boys.
The eldest came out of school 3 months ago after flexi-schooling for a while and being generally unhappy with his schooling from day 1 of reception. The youngest came out a month ago, just because he wanted to and I thought that was fine.
I am new to the idea of unschooling long term as I thought it was just something we'd do until the eldest got over the negativity and hostility he encountered in school. But I've been reading round and listening to other parents and kids and I feel pretty optimistic.
One thing I'd like to change is their physical activity. I'd like to encourage the boys to get more physically active. They've never been interested in sports or ball games but they did get a good run around in the playground 5 days a week. Now we've got a play centre visit around once a week, ice skating once a fortnight and swimming once a fortnight. I'd like to get them out and about more.
They aren't interested in walking the dog. My husband works from home so they know that they don't have to go with me as they won't be left unsupervised.
They aren't interested in going for walks in the woods all that much, which I just can't understand?! We live right next to the most beautiful countryside but it's 'boring' unless there's a play-park there and if it's wet or cold or windy they'd rather not go at all.
They aren't bothered about riding bikes or scooters. They had skipping ropes that they took apart and hula hoops that they used in their junk modelling.
They'll play on the trampette sometimes or play with balloons or play games where they jump and run around a fair bit. On dry warm days they're happy to climb and run and play in the park, but the weather's changing and they wont' want to go soon.
Any ideas for helping them keep fit without having to fork out for more regular swimming/ice skating lessons? I'd like them to get at least an hour's physical exercise a day.
I'm tempted to get them roller skates to try to motivate them but it's too big an expense if they're just going to lie around unused (or get turned into planters!)
My kids go through phases when a walk in the woods isn't appealing to them. They do moderately better if there's a sort of a treasure hunt in the woods, but not always. Have you tried geocashing or letterboxing? Can you make the walks in the woods more concrete and suggest they look for certain things--maybe related to seasonal changes, maybe checking out familiar spots at regular intervals. What about making ephemeral art and then checking on it the next day? What about timing various distances? Making maps?
When mine get into a routine, they start getting excited about the walks and look forward to them. But it is hard to get them to this stage. If DH worked from home they'd be much harder to get going as well, so I can definitely relate.
Another idea is a trampoline in the yard.
My son is similar, not into sports or things that sound like exercise. He will go on a family walk if dh comes. Partially that's because he doesn't want to be left home alone but he does enjoy talking with dh while we walk. It's a time when dh isn't doing anything else so it's a good time to have a conversation. They used to have nice talks when we would drive dh to work so this has replaced that though we take walks less regularly.
We meet kids at the park once a week, for a regular home school meet up, when the weather is nice in the fall and spring.
He'll run around if he's playing some game with other kids like shooting nerf guns at each other, something dynamic and interactive but not anything too organized like sports. But we aren't around other kids very much. Some days, I call it good if we've gone up and down the steps more times than usual. For instance, if I'm running around the house doing laundry or something, he'll come looking for me in the basement or upstairs.
This time of year might not be very inviting. In the rainy, cold weather, my daughters have been watching the Olympics on the internet. Men's and women's gymnastics keep them pretty busy jumping around (and on the furniture! We've had to make some OFGA--Our Family's Gymnastics Association-- rules about what will and will not tear the furniture apart. We don't have video games here, but there are plenty of dance-type games that keep you moving. For Christmas, the girls are getting stopwatches in their stockings this year. My oldest, especially, is going to love it. But she is the kind of kid who loves challenging her body and she takes great joy in how quick and strong she is (and she is!)
Is a "trampette" a trampoline? I'd love to get a big one in the yard one of these days.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
Thanks everyone. Some good ideas.
A trampette is a small trampoline with less 'bounce'. They're really for adults but we don't have room for anything bigger and the kids are used to not being able to jump very high on it. It takes up most of our tiny yard.
I like idea of giving our walks some purpose. I think that would motivate them well.
Are you familiar with geocaching? That was always a great way to get my kids interested in a hike. You need a GPS device of some sort: a Garmin type training watch, a hand-held or vehicular GPS unit or a smartphone. You go to the geocaching website, create a free account, and then search for caches in your area. You print off the coordinates, the map thumbnail and any clues, and head out to look for the cache. (There are virtual caches, and microcaches, but the best ones for kids are 'traditional' caches.) A cache is usually a sandwich-sized Rubbermaid or Lock 'n Lock type container with a log book and a few trinkets inside it. It will be hidden at the co-ordinate location. A GPS receiver will get you within 5 to 10 metres, but it can still sometimes be a challenge to find the cache. Typically they're in crevices, under shrubs, behind posts. Bring a few dollar-store trinkets (but nothing that could attract animals!) and once you find the cache, sign the logbook, choose a trinket from the cache and leave one of your own trinkets. When you get home, log your find on your geocaching account. We've found geocaching to be a wonderful way to give a walk some purpose, to learn about mapping and local history. In urban areas you don't want passersby to see you finding the cache (lest they come back and disturb it later) so you and your kids can have fun developing ninja skills -- looking casual, waiting for the right moment, then surreptitiously snagging the cache.
I've also given purpose to walks we've done by calling them garbage walks. We take bags with us and pick up any litter we find. Photographing our litter collection afterwards, before we dispense with it properly, gives the kids a tangible sense of accomplishment, like they're helping make the world a better place. Here's an inspiring blog about 20-minute beach cleanups: It Starts With Me.
We also sometimes do photo safaris, where we go out with a camera or two and a self-designed challenge to take photos that portray the day's weather, or show the change of the season, or catalogue the various tree species we can find, or depict an element of our community or whatever. Keeping a photo blog of our area helps make all of us feel like we're doing this for a reason. There are lots of photo-a-day blogs out there for inspiration.
Hope that gives you some ideas for ways to give walks some interesting purpose.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Thanks! I understand caching now. I don't have any of those things but my friend gave me an old phone recently which may be useful. I'll try to find out - I haven't worked out how to use it yet being one of the only people left in the developed world who is new to mobile phones!
I love the photo safari idea too. The kids love taking photos. Clean ups are something I do often. Last month I picked up SIX glass bottles that were lying on the ground/on walls in a 10 minute walk. It's relevant that the kids see me doing this often but haven't yet thought to pick anything up themselves (nor have I asked them to.) That's certainly something to talk about.
You can also get away with using goggle maps to geocache. That's how we did it for years before we could afford a gps system. ;) We'd print off our directions, and a close up map of the location. Actually, we started out writing it all down because I didn't even have a printer. lol There are usually clues listed with the geocache, too. There were a couple we couldn't find without a proper system, but I'd say we were able to find 80% - 90% of the caches we searched out. We had so much fun putting together our geocaching "kit". A fanny pack with a few items of different sizes donated from each of us, for replacing anything we kept from a cache...and a pen and paper for adding our names to the cache log books...and a first aid kit JIC...and plastic bags because we always clean up the cache site, or along the way to/from. Now, everyone has their own kit and we use the car gps (not the best, but a slight improvement on googling it. lol)
If your kids are into photography, maybe they would like to start photoblogs? They could decide on a different theme each week, then go out into the neighborhood to find interesting subjects that meet their themes.
Personally, my kids never had a choice but to walk the dog. In our house, the youngest person that weighs more than the dog is automatically responsible for walking it. If that person isn't allowed to go out by him/herself yet because of age or inability to properly clean up after the dog, the older sibling has to go with and take up the slack. ;)