This month’s letter is for parents and caregivers who participate along with their children in one of our Gym for Tots programs. To make this experience as positive as possible, Tonio Perez, Discovery Gymnastics Director, created the following guidelines. Please feel free to share this with your friends.
What to expect during your gymnastics class.
Welcome to the Gym for Tots Program! The following are guidelines to make your gymnastics experience and your child’s an enjoyable and successful one:
ARRIVAL: We suggest you arrive 10 minutes before your class begins. In our lobby you will find books, paper and crayons for your child’s enjoyment. You can leave your shoes to the left of the double doors. Once your child is inside our state-of-the-art gym, it is perfectly normal for her to want to run and climb rather than join our circle time, a specific circuit or activity. If this is the case, it is ok to allow your child to wander and explore, but make sure you are at her side at all times to ensure her safety. Soon you can encourage your child to re-join her group or activity. You are welcome to ask the teacher for assistance.
IN THE GYM: Allow your child to decide which set of challenges he wishes to work on. He is likely to work longer and benefit more from the activity in which he expresses a natural interest. Learning to master a specific task is a favorite toddler pastime. Allow your child to repeat a skill over and over again. There is no wrong or right way to use a piece of equipment as long as he is safe. Let your child be creative and follow his lead.
TRAFFIC JAMS: These do occur on the equipment. Stay close by to help your child figure out a way to maneuver. You always can move ahead to the following skill. Please help your child avoid the frustrations that lead to physical responses by ensuring a safe distance between children. They need your help for this.
SPOTTING: There are two different ways to spot your child, the “active” and the “safety” spot.
The aim of the “active spot” is guiding your child’s movement so she develops an awareness of her body and establishes those movement patterns necessary for skill learning. While active spotting, do not hold her hands so that the arms are lifted higher than her shoulders. The best spot is to support the pelvis, by placing one open hand flat across her pelvis and one on the lower back. This way your child is free to move and develop an awareness of the pelvis as the center of gravity.
The “safety spot” is used when your child has successfully acquired the learned skill on his own. Be close at hand and ready for action, but wait as long as is safe before offering physical assistance. The moment you touch your child her weight will shift; her sense of center and balance will move to where you have touched her and away from her own center of gravity. As a guide, allow your child to take the lead and initiate movement.
DEALING WITH FEAR: If your child stiffens and/or resists an exercise, you may respond in one of these ways:
- Skip to the next area.
- Allow him/her to watch a classmate perform the skill.
- Model the skill yourself or ask your teacher to demonstrate.
- Allow him/her to try it with the teacher.
- We never force a child to perform.
Try again the following week and keep in mind that there are different types of learners. Some children learn by watching or by listening and others by moving.
LANGUAGE USAGE: Reinforce verbally what your child is doing and where he/she is in space. They will learn the name of the particular skill they are learning and the most important directional terms. For example, up/down, under/over, before/after, etc…
In addition to the overall body control, strength and balance your child is acquiring in the gym class, building self-confidence is one of the most important aspects of the class. Allow your child to explore all the movement possibilities, and share his excitement with him as he stands on top of a platform and surveys the world from newfound heights.
TYPICAL CLASS ROUTINES INCLUDE:
Circle Time: Class begins with a combination of songs, gymnastics body positions and stretching exercises to prepare the body for movement.
Circuit Rotations: This is a combination of balance beam, bars, trapeze, rings and tumble track (trampoline). These rotations include creative movement, imaginary play and lively games.
Closure: Children enjoy the ritual of bubbles and a goodbye song at the end of each class.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions – firstname.lastname@example.org.