Gymnastics for babies and toddlers

Do you remember watching the amazing performance of Canada’s gymnasts at the 2012 Olympics in London? Seeing them soar through the air performing incredible flips and spins while you held your breath thinking that one wrong step or slip could lead to a fall and possibly broken bones?

Watching these gymnasts makes it pretty hard for most parents to imagine their baby or toddler in gymnastics. But gymnastics is one of the best activities for contributing to the overall development of a child as it provides the foundation for participation and success in all other athletic activities. (1)

The gymnasts you see on television represent only a very small percentage of gymnasts in B.C. They train many hours a week in a controlled environment to learn and train their difficult skills and routines.

And in fact, a significant majority, more than 85 per cent, of children registered with a PLAY Gymnastics BC club take part in recreational gymnastics. They attend a gymnastics class once, or sometimes twice, a week to learn the fundamental movement skills. These are the skills that will help them be confident and lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

What can babies and toddlers do in a gymnastics class?

A typical recreational gymnastics class for kids under four years old is between 30 to 45 minutes once a week. Taking part in a variety games and fun activities using the gymnastics equipment, children learn:

  • Running, jumping, climbing, rolling, twisting, kicking, throwing, catching
  • Agility, balance and coordination
  • Strength and flexibility
  • Spatial awareness
  • Creative moment and make-believe
  • Exposure to music and dance activities
  • Group social skills
  • Safety skills such as being able fall safely and without injury (perfect for those toddlers taking their first steps!).

Most PLAY gymnastics clubs also offer parent & tot classes. These classes are a unique combination of circle time, free exploration, and skill development. Designed to enhance gross motor development through stimulating the senses, the classes feature specialized preschool equipment, music, bright colors and an environment conducive to learning and parent-child bonding (2).

What are the benefits for my child?

According to Dr. Robyn Silveman, PhD., “research suggests that there is a strong correlation between physically fit children and academic achievement. This means that every time you send your child to gymnastics class, they’re getting an opportunity to engage in physical exercise that encourages healthy brain function” (3).

So next time you see a gymnastics competition on television, remember that these athletes all started in a recreational program. And they represent only a small percentage of gymnasts.

Enrolling your child in a PLAY Gymnastics BC program will help them lead an active and healthy life, and stay safe in all of their other physical activities.

References

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May 24 to 26, 2019

2019 BC Gymnaestrada, Victoria

Hosted by: PLAY Gymnastics BC and Lion’s Pride Gymnastics Academy Contact: Keara Urquhart, kurquhart@gymbc.org, 604-333-3494 See full event details. 

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