Summer's here! Wondering what you're going to do with your young child's never-ending supply of energy? Why not take advantage of unscheduled homeschool days and the extra room outdoors to develop your child's physical fitness with gymnastics?

With an easy-to-follow teacher's guide like the Horizons Physical Education curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications®, you can instruct your elementary-age child in beginning gymnastic movements from the comfort of your own backyard. Combining body awareness, balance, and rhythm along with muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility training, these animal exercises are not only fun to do, they also teach little ones new motor skills. If you add a backyard water slide, a few competitive neighbor kids, and some lemonade on a hot summer day, these exercises are even more fun!   

Animal Exercises

Wiggle Worm - Lie on your stomach. Move forward by bending and twisting your body.

Lame Dog - Get down on your hands and knees. Lift one hand or one leg and move forward.

Bear Walk - Move forward with your right hand and right foot, then move with your left hand and left foot (teaches ipsilateral movement).

Crab Walk - Lie with your back to the ground. Push up and hold your body with your arms and legs. Move in many different directions.

Seal Crawl - Get into the pushup position. Walk forward with your hands and drag your feet. Keep your body straight and head up.

Stork Stand - Shift all of your weight to one foot, then place the sole of your other foot against the calf of the standing leg. Hold as long as possible.

Elephant Walk - From a standing position, bend forward at the waist. With your arms handing down, clasp your hands together to be the elephant's trunk. Walk with your knees slightly bent, back rounded, and arms swinging side to side. Make elephant noises.

Crocodile Crawl - Take a front lying position on your hands and knees. Crawl forward, moving your right arm and left leg at the same time, and then your left arm and right leg (teaches contralateral pattern).

Frog Jump - Start in a squatting position. Spring forward and land in the starting position. Make frog sounds as you jump.

Rabbit Jump - Squat and place hands on the floor ahead of feet. Move forward by reaching out first with both hands and then bringing both feet up to your hands.

Camel Walk - Walk on your hands and feet with back arched high.

Kangaroo Hop - Place your hands in front of your body like a kangaroo's paws. From a squatting position, hop forward.

No doubt about it. Your child will definitely benefit as he learns these beginning gymnastic exercises. He'll improve his coordination and gain a solid foundation for fitness. Plus he'll learn how to listen and follow directions, concentrate, and build self-esteem. And who knows? He might even be inspired to use all that energy to become a gymnast. So have fun and make your backyard the best place to enjoy your own homeschool summer Olympic games!