small-child-1634778_640Perfect Timing for Babies, Toddlers and Preschool Age Children to Begin Gymnastics Classes

From parents, here, there and everywhere, one question is popular amongst parents with children under the age of five – “When can my child begin gymnastics classes?”

My answer is always the same and surprises many, “They can begin gymnastics lessons at six months old.”

Parents are often amazed, excited and apprehensive at the idea of their baby or toddler beginning a gymnastics class. However, in the right environment, your baby can physically and cognitively thrive between the ages of six months and five years in a quality preschool gymnastics program.

Select the Right Environment

Once you have decided to give a gymnastics class a try, you must carefully select the best gym for your child. When selecting a gym one should take the following into consideration:

  • What am I seeking for my child? Independent play time or structured gymnastics instruction? This fine point makes all the difference in the world. A facility offering your child the opportunity to play using gymnastics apparatus is great fun and exercise for your child, but it is not the same as a gymnastics class designed to safely teach gymnastics and transfer gymnastics curriculum from coach to student. Now that you have chosen the latter, chose a gymnastics facility.
  • Choosing a gymnastics facility: In addition to a bright, clean, safe and inviting atmosphere, the following points will tell you if the facility that you are exploring is designed to safely serve children 5 and under.
    • Gymnastics Equipment: Does the facility have a bar, beam, floor and vault system exclusively designed for small children and babies? Are the mats and supplemental materials specifically designed for children under five?
    • Coaches: Are the coaches knowledgeable of preschool gymnastics and early child development. Ask questions about how coaches are selected, trained and maintain their training. In most cases for reasons of self-preservation, gyms will thoroughly train coaches and properly vet new hires.
    • Lesson Plans: Ask the owner, head coach or director if they use progression based lesson plans. A progression based lesson plan introduces skills through building blocks known as progressions, this allows the athlete to learn and master each part of a skill over time instead of just “throwing a skill” subsequently risking injury or learning the skill incorrectly.
    • Ages and Stages: Are the skills being taught through age appropriate progressions? Strength, coordination, balance vary from age to age and a good program can concisely explain what they do in their six-month old Parent Tot class, Toddler, Preschooler and five-year old classes. Listen carefully to the explanation as this will speak volumes. Assisted and Unassisted are buzz words. A Parent Tot class will have a great deal of assisted activities, while a five-year old class will have less.

Overall Benefits

Cognitive, social and physical growth are all positively impacted by preschool gymnastics skills. Gross motor skills such as crawling, walking, jumping, hopping, skipping, galloping, kicking, grasping, throwing and catching are developed and sometimes mastered by the time a child graduates from a preschool gymnastics program.

Gymnastics Specific

On the gymnastics side of the equation, progressing through a specific program like ours at Carolina Flipz will prepare your child to successfully move into a recreational gymnastics class.

Kindergarten Readiness

Running, jumping, climbing, hopping, throwing/catching a ball, jumping on two feet, as well as learning how to follow directions, line up and take turns are all skills that are developed in preschool gymnastics.

 


About Guest Blogger Natalie J. Petro, Carolina Flipz Gymnastics

carolinaflipzNatalie Petro is the Preschool Program Director at Carolina Flipz Gymnastics. Located in Pineville, Carolina Flipz offers year-round recreational and competitive gymnastics and cheer instruction for students ranging from 6 months to 18 years. Carolina Flipz offers seven education levels within its preschool program. Parents are encouraged to check out the program during TOT Time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm. Learn more at www.carolinaflipz.com.