When you’re looking for extracurricular activities for your kids, gymnastics may fit the bill, as you can often find classes to suit all ages. Gymnastics programs can help toddlers practice their gross motor skills, while older children may be more interested in competitive gymnastics or gymnastics for cheerleading. Whatever most interests your child, check the local gymnastics school thoroughly to be sure that it’s the right place for your child.
Obesity is a major problem in America, and one cause is that children don’t get enough exercise. A gymnastics program will offer your child weekly exercise, including muscle training and cardiovascular exercise. Little ones can practice new moves like jumping, balancing and rolling in a safe, padded environment. Attending classes over the years allows your child to form strong friendships with other children who have similar interests. It’s also good for those who want to be active, but who don’t want to be a part of a team.
A typical gymnastics program will last from 30 minutes to two hours, with the shorter lessons going to younger children, who don’t have the attention span for long classes. The gymnastics center probably has different sessions, ranging from six to 10 weeks. This allows you to try it out for awhile to see if your child likes it, but not have to face the pressure of signing on for a full year.
When to Start
Some programs offer lessons for children as young as 18 months. At this age, children simply go to the class to have fun. They may do a few stretches, practice movements like walking, running and jumping, gain balance skills by walking on the balance beam, climb over items in an obstacle course and jump on a trampoline. At 2 to 4 years old, your kid will start with more complicated moves, like headstands and forward rolls. You child can start gymnastics at any age, as long as the program offers classes.
Finding a Program
A gymnastics center will have a wide variety of equipment and should be the top choice for gymnastics lessons. However, many local YMCAs also offer gymnastics programs, though they may not have all the same equipment. If your child is just a toddler, consider looking for a gymnastics school that caters to toddlers, as all the equipment will be safe.
What to Expect
During class time, your child will go through a series of practice moves. It should start with a warm-up, and then proceed to the more complex moves. Young children will likely get a chance to use the balance beams, trampolines and obstacle course, along with some practice hanging from bars and jumping on a spring board. Older children will also have a routine to go through, usually including muscle-building activities, like push-ups or walking lunges, along with practice on equipment like the uneven bars.