As adults it’s easy to forget how important play, creativity and imagination is to a child and their learning experience. It’s helpful to keep in mind that playfulness is a good learning tool within itself, as well as a good motivational tool.
Often when children get tired they tend to get restless, which can then lead into undesirable behavior in a class setting. This can be a good opportunity to utilize some creativity to refocus the class or student to the task at hand.
Gymnastics is a very fun sport. Especially so for children. We are asking them to hang off of bars, swing, run, jump and roll around.
Imagination could be the best coaching tool we all posses.
When we have students hanging off of a bar who are getting tired, or have sore hands. As coaches, we might say things like “pretend there are crocodiles underneath you!”
Or the Coaches might utilize a game, where they have to swing and land as still as possible in their motorbike shape. If they move or wobble, they will be seen by the hungry giant!
If you were to ask a group of students where their favourite area was in the gym, it is very likely most would agree that the trampoline and the foam pit are their favourites. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s bouncy and colourful. The foam pit is also super exciting as it is squishy and they can sink and almost swim through it. With all those exciting qualities it can be a challenge occasionally to encourage a gymnast to get out of the foam pit swiftly.
More games and imagination can be used to progress with the classes rotations. Setting time limits in a fun way, by counting down from 10 to get out of the foam pit or else "the sharks might spot you", for example. Another alternative could be asking each gymnast to stack a single foam block on top of each other outside of the foam pit to build a high tower, as a team! So they will have to be quick to get out of the foam pit, to place it onto the tower!
There are endless ways to try and keep gymnasts of all ages engaged through imagination. Almost any game or activity can be changed to adapt to a particular interest of the gymnast.
Do you have any fun ideas or games you use inside or outside of the Gym? Let us know in the comments below.
Signing off for now,
Working with Toddlers is a very rewarding experience, but of course it can be a challenge at times. It is such a joy to be able to come in to work, knowing you can help these little people to grow and learn in a safe fun environment.
While I am helping our little gymnasts to learn new social skills, gymnastic skills and character growth... they are also helping me to learn.
Here a few things I have learnt:
Have you got a child enrolled in one of our Play Skills programs? Have they taught you anything? Let us know in the comments!
Signing out for now,
1. Fun: We all know how much fun gymnastics can be. It lets kids be kids, by climbing, jumping, swinging, playing and learning.
All the things amazing little people love to do!
2. Team Work: Although you may not consider gymnastics a team sport, for a pre-schooler, their class is their team. They need to
interact and play in a positive manner, enabling everyone to have a good time while sharing equipment and the coaches’ time.
3. Asking for Help: If children feel confident asking for the help of adults at a young age, they are more likely to be able to use that skill later in life. Gymnastics will at times be challenging, creating the perfect opportunity for gymnasts to ask for help, not only from their grown ups but also from other adult figures such as coaches, and even their peers.
4. Persistence: The first time a gymnast walks into class they are not going to be able to do every activity asked of them, but through
repetition and encouragement gymnasts will begin to understand that, by repeating a skill over and over they will see progression and achievement.
5. Conflict Resolution: How does a gymnast feel when they miss out on sitting on a green carpet square? Or when someone makes it to the rings before they do, requiring them to wait their turn? Gymnastics classes are the perfect opportunity for grown ups to help children understand how to deal with these situations and how to control their emotions in a positive way.
6. Following Instruction: Following instructions is a skill that has to be learned, just like walking. We help our children learn to walk by supporting them physically and creating a safe environment where they can trial and error the skill. This is what a gymnastics class does for instructions. (If gymnasts are not able to follow a set instruction, they will be able to explore what is important to them at the time and then be brought back to the activity. This is done through adult guidance or through recognition, by seeing another gymnasts
7. Appropriate Interaction: Learning to have good manners and speak in a way that is respectful is an important skill for pre-schoolers to learn. Gymnastics class helps a child learn to treat the teacher with respect, and helps then understand how to navigate social
dynamics with their pre-school peers.
8. Brain Development: Gymnastics is the best sport for helping children develop brain skills such as cross patterning, vestibular
awareness, problem solving, kinaesthetic development and visual tracking. Each week our classes are programmed to specially involve activities that build on these skills.
9. Confidence: How could gymnasts not become more confident when working and developing physically, mentally and socially?
With the support of their grown up and team mates, children are able to increase self-esteem from an early age.
10. Creating a life long love of Physical Activity and Movement: In a world that is becoming more and more sedentary, developing a love and enjoyment of physical activity and body confidence at a young age is crucial. This will assist in leading a long, happy and healthy lifestyle.