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I’ve had the pleasure of answering the When, the Why and the How of gymnastics for kids, to hundreds of parents. I wear my coaching shirt in public way too often! If we haven’t bumped into each other yet, this post is for you.
WHEN SHOULD KIDS START GYMNASTICS?
If you wanted a one word response it’d be – NOW!
Most Gyms offer Parent-Tot classes starting as young as 12 months old. Is this necessary? Of course not. Is this a great opportunity for you and your little one to explore the active world of walking, crawling, jumping, rolling, hopping, climbing, and swinging together? Absolutely. Bonus: it’s a social event for both of you!
Some parents aren’t able (or don’t have the desire) to run around the gym with their tot. If this is the case, 3 year olds are usually able to attend class on their own. Does your child have to start this young to be successful? No! Is it a great activity to prepare for school and provide enjoyment and physical development? Yes! (I’m aware a bit of the WHY is slipping in here – it’s hard to resist).
Some kids don’t get the opportunity to try gymnastics until later in life. Is it still worth trying? Definitely! Many gyms offer gymnastics and tumbling classes that are exclusively designed for teens. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a gym with an adult class!
I’ve had parents ask if their child needed to know how to do a forward roll, be potty trained or follow directions before starting gymnastics. Nope. The forward roll will be taught, try a Parent-Tot class if your little one is yet to be diaper-free, and learning to follow directions is part of the gymnastics experience! If your child is disruptive, you may be asked to tag along . . . stick with it, and find a coach that has great class management skills.
WHY SHOULD KIDS DO GYMNASTICS?
If I had your attention for the next several hours, I’d give you a thorough answer. I’m betting I’ve got quite a bit less time, so I’ll keep it short(er).
Social Skills: peer interaction, taking turns, watching, listening, team work.
Cognitive Skills: focus, memorization, problem solving, following instructions.
Confidence: achievement, overcoming fear, goal-setting, work-ethic, commitment.
Physical Development: strength, flexibility, coordination, speed, balance, endurance.
Fun: games, music, swinging, flipping, twisting, flying!