I'm going to ask you to reflect upon your primary school years for a moment. Do you recall your school teachers having these strange 3 sided pencils? Or what about the rubber grips that went around a pencil instead? Did you have a teacher who always seemed to correct you on how to hold your pencils? Or maybe that wasn't a focus at all when you were in school.
The Pincer Grip is a developmental milestone in all children, that is highly encouraged by educational figures in there lives. It also should be encouraged and trained at home!
So why is it so important? Your child will be learning/developing these skills in primary school or kindergarten as you did, right? Incorrect! They will be learning how to refine this skill every day. Regardless of who is teaching them.
I have the suspicion that a majority of people are under the impression that the Pincer Grip is a skill for writing and drawing - and as we head further into the digital age the need for the ability will decrease. I would like to take the time to really discuss the significance of finger dexterity as we age and develop!
As teeny tiny babies, we don't really know we have fingers. We keep them curled up into our palms and occasionally give them a stretch. We start to discover these important digits when we start chewing on them, and sticking them into our mouths. As we grow and our brain develops, we start to process new sensory information. This means we start to understand how touch works.
Babies use touch & taste all the time to get an understanding of the world. If you give them a chance, they will place just about anything into their mouths to give it a chew... including pool noodles! We have all seen that before.
As they begin to grasp the idea of the world, they have a better understanding on how to get things they want. For example, that super shiny set of house keys on the floor! If they want to play with them, and you aren't going to hand it to them... they need to learn to be independent. During this developmental stage your infant will start to develop neural pathways on how to grasp, hold and move objects with their hands. For the first few months of this stage they will use their palm to drag an item to themselves. However, as they grow they will begin to use their thumb & forefinger to retrieve items. This is the first stages of Pincer Grip development!
As the child grows they will use this new finger dexterity to feed themselves, learn to hold utensils or how to pick up their drinking cups. They will need this ability to pick up toys, to scratch themselves or to touch sensory objects. It will also be used in every day life such as brushing teeth, buttoning shirts, doing up zips and even developing into touch typing abilities.
The Pincer Grip is a fine motor developmental skill as it requires finesse and control of a small range of motion. There are lots of activities you can use to help them master this skill! We use a lot of them ourselves in our Playskills programs - including our Wombats & Geckos!
Do you know a little one in your life that could benefit from one of our classes? Don't forget to tag them!
Signing off for now,
Every individual that walks through our gym is going to learn in a slightly different way. Some require verbal ques (linguistic) to understand a process, while others might require a kinesthetic approach by trying the activity themselves. There are many other ways to learn that include Visual (spatial), Aural (auditory), Logical (mathematical), Social (interpersonal) and Solitary (intrapersonal). All of these methods of learning will help our gymnasts to fully understand and grasp a concept.
In our gymnastics classes we try to use as many of these learning styles in each class as possible. This way all of our gymnasts are getting the most out of their experience.
Our learning styles have a large influence over the way we recall information and the way that information is internally represented. Research has shown us that each of these learning styles activates different parts of the brain. By increasing the number of parts of the brain used, we remember more of what we have learnt. Resulting in a more effective learning environment.
In young children, it is especially vital to take all of these learning styles into consideration. As children often learn through play, they will be using nearly all of these learning styles simultaneously.
In our Playskills programs - such as our Gecko's program - we utilize these learning styles through use of "learning cards". These learning cards are accessible through out the gymnastics circuit to the children and their grown ups. The learning cards will contain imagery of the gymnastics skill (visual), a worded description of the activity (linguistic) as well as the opportunity to work on their social skills (interpersonal) with their grown up and the other gymnasts around them.
This is the perfect learning environment for young children to develop their neural pathways in their brain, that will lead to a successful opportunity for learning into their adult hood.
It is also a great opportunity for parents/grown-ups to observe the manner in which their child is engaged through learning.
Do they seem the most interested when the group plays a game of "Follow the leader" (Kinesthetic)? Do they constantly ask you to read the learning cards to them? (Auditory)? Do they need to see how a skill is achieved before they try (Spatial)? Take as much as you possibly can in. The more you know about how they learn; the more you will be able to help them learn.
Do you know how you learn best? Do you think your child learns the same way you do?
Let us know in the comments below! We would love the hear you responses.
Signing off for now,
Vestibi-what? What is this complicated word and what can it possibly have to do with your child? The answer is, it has quite a lot to do with your child. You may not have heard of it, but I bet you are familiar with some of it's effects.
The Vestibular System is one of the first things to fully develop as it is so incredibly important and crucial to the functioning of the human body. The process is usually complete in the first six months of life!
This system is directly responsible for controlling the sense of movement and balance. It is also considered to have major influence over the other sensory systems that are found in the body. The Vestibular system is in charge of directing information from all the other sensory systems, from the brain to its rightful destination.
Do you remember as a child being able to spin endlessly and recovering quickly from the effects? Yet now as an adult, if you sit up too quickly... you get a head rush? That's your Vestibular system! As we age our senses age with us. This effects our reaction time to many things, including dizziness and nausea.
A study in 1994 by Cutson T.M reported the incidence of dizziness increases from 22% for adults between 65-69 years of age to over 40% for adults between the ages of 80-84 years.
So we know that this system is important... but how does it work?
1. Auditory functions through the cochlear nerve that is found in the inner ear, and sends information to the brain.
2. Balance and equilibrium functions that give us a sense of awareness in space.
3. Visual functions via all surrounding muscle receptors.
4. Tonic muscle control through stabilization of the neck and head.
The Vestibular system should act as one large piece of cohesive machinery, that is constantly working to keep day to day life functional and easy. When an infant climb and crawls across obstacles, their entire body is working together. The sensations from these outside stimuli are adapted into stimuli the brain can comprehend and process.
One of the most important functions of the Vestibular system is increasing & reducing the amount of neural activity, to keep a harmonious balance between all of the nervous systems. If the Vestibular system gets overloaded with outside stimuli, it can become overwhelming and produce a lowered response time. This often can be seen in the emotional responses of a child.
Did you learn anything from todays blog post? Let me know in the comments!
Signing off for now,
If I asked you to sing all the words to Mary had a little lamb, without any prompting... could you do it? I can guarantee you can remember almost every word to that nursery rhyme. What about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? I'm sure it would be the same.
There is a reason why you can remember the words to a song after all this time, but you might often forget what someone told you a couple of hours ago.
Songs are a learning tool used around the world to help little ones learn and discover the world around them. Here at FCGC we use songs in all of our PlaySkills programs to aid our gymnasts through learning classroom behavior, social skills, pattern awareness, vocabulary building, rhythm, communication and mimicking behaviors. All of which will be fundamental to your little ones development.
As we sing we tend to slow our speech down and articulate all of the words. This gives your little gymnast time to listen intently and learn how to put sounds together to create a word or a sentence. While singing, it is very common for us to sing in a higher tone which is incredibly engaging and stimulating for a developing brain. The sillier you can make the song, the more likely you are to have your little one mimic you and join you in the process.
Studies have shown that children who enjoy music and who sing and rhyme regularly have an easier time understanding language.
The best part is, you can find a song on just about any topic you like! You can start singing about body parts, colours, numbers, animals, gymnastics skills and more!
Have you attended a PlaySkill class at FCGC before? Can you remember what song you sang? Let me know in the comment section below!
Signing off for now,
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.