I have had my parents in town visiting for the past week. As part of their visit, they have stopped by to see me work. After watching one of my classes, my mom made a comment along the lines of "Wow! You really have those kids down to a routine and they follow directions and behave so well!"
It really made me think. I often get the question of what age should my child start gymnastics or why would I put my child in a gymnastics class so young? My answer to what age: As soon as you can get them enrolled in a quality program! Wait until you have the right teacher and gym to fit your family, but then take them as soon as possible. Try some places. See what works.
I've started classes with as young as 15 months where we start with activities as simple as ones like this:
They become accustomed to being outside the home, away from mom/dad and starting to explore the fun things a gymnastics facility has to offer. They overcome fears and try new things while building manipulative skills. I also work with beginner kids from junior high (I have even done classes with beginner adults!) who greatly benefit not only from the exercise, but the confidence building, and friends they make in class. Whatever the age, get them started!
NOW. The big one. I am friends with a lot of young moms. My siblings and in-laws all have little kids. There are lots of young moms at my church. "My child is too young for a sport, especially gymnastics. They won't really do anything. It's a waste of money and time." Why oh why should you put your child in gymnastics class when they are 16 months....18 months...2 years....3 years...?
1. Sociality. I made up the word, but I think you can catch my drift. They learn to play nice with kids, how to wait their turn, how to listen to a coach, how to stand in line, etc.
2. A non-family adult role model for your child. "Coach Annie would be so sad to hear that you didn't eat your vegetables at dinner.....Coach Annie wants you to go to bed so you can wake up and play with her tomorrow...." It works. Sometimes having that outside family figure is just what it takes to reinforce good behavior.
3. Manipulative skills! Gymnastics leads to betting reading skills, specifically due to the manipulative skills we teach in classes. Eye tracking teaching body awareness and trains the mind in a way most schools can't.
4. How to set goals,
5. Build self esteem.
And my favorite:
6. How to do gymnastics safely. They start with rolls, hanging on the bar, walking on a beam and jumping on a trampoline and before you know it, they are tumbling, flipping on the bars, leaping on the beams and sticking their landing on the vault. The little drills lead to the big skills when done in a safe progressive manner. (Again, finding the right gym with the right coach)
Most gyms will offer a free trial class. Find a certified USAG club near you through usagymclub.com. See you at the gym :)