Is your child going to be a gymnastic star in future Olympic games?
Maybe - but probably not. If not, why should they have gymnastic training? The fact that children naturally find gymnastics to be so much fun may be sufficient cause for some parents to have their child in a gym program but other parents may seek more justification for the expenditure of time and money.
While few children become advanced gymnasts, all children will attend school and many (hopefully all) will participate in some form of athletics. Educators tell us that children's success in school and athletics is strongly influenced by earlier experiences that help to shape a child's self-concept. Children need positively reinforcing experiences that will help them to believe that they can solve problems and that they can have control over their lives. Very young children can also benefit from successful social interaction; learning to interact with their peers; learning to be in a class; listening and following directions. A child who has developed a strong sense of confidence and self-esteem, and who also can relate well to others, is going to approach future situations with confidence and a good chance of success.
Many different activities can have a positive effect on a child's development. Among many things a child can be exposed to, gymnastics has some unique qualities. It is inherently satisfying; children naturally receive great enjoyment in rolling, turning, jumping and swinging types of movements. The many different types of movement in gymnastics offers the trained teacher the chance to teach important physical concepts to the child. The various heights, speeds and complex movements involved provide natural situations where the child can learn to solve problems and overcome fears. In gymnastics, there are rules to learn and follow. Some of them are inviolatable (physical laws with real consequences if broken); rules related to ones safety and the safety of others. Because gymnastics is so enjoyable to children, and they choose to participate, they are strongly motivated to listen; to be part of the class. Gymnastics offers the teacher tremendous opportunity to teach listening and social skills.
A good gymnastic program is structured around the above ideas. The sport of gymnastics can be used as a vehicle to enhance children's adaptation to both academics and sports. It is important to learn the movement concepts involved in a skill as well as learning the skill. Most important, each child must experience a maximum of success and a minimum of failure! The focus should be on the development of self-esteem along with skill acquisition. Not all children can perform a given skill well, but they can all learn to feel good about what they can do.
To ensure success it is important that the skills taught are challenging but realistically attainable. In very young children one year in age makes a big difference in what types of skills they can successfully perform and conceptualize. Each age can best find that optimal balance between challenge and success if they are in a class that is specific to their developmental level.
Owner/Director Gleason's Gymnastics School