Our recent rainbow theme had me thinking very much about all the layers & layers of learning in our Jnr Gym Kids classes.
LAYERS… that’s what Early Childhood and learning is all about. Lots & lots of rich learning layers!!!
While our big gymnasts are leaping with precision and tumbling with power, we know there are so many steps along the way for them to know where their body is and when and how to move it with more & more control. All this learning happens in LAYERS, which starts by our under 5’s playing with purpose!
The Physical, Cognitive & Social/Emotional layers in Early Childhood are interrelated & all come together for whole child development through purposeful play.
At Jnr Gym Kids you’ll see; EXPLORERS exploring their feet on a squeaker, a MOVER class holding hands with their helper for balance so they can think about the force and mechanics side of pushing off on their hopping leg OR our independent GROOVERS mastering a step jump on our mini tramps.
But even within each of these classes there are LAYERS and LAYERS of learning going on.
For example, learning a simple ROCKET SHAPE might start with arms up high one week, the next their legs will be squeezed & they can hold their core tight, while the next step is being is able to keep that shape while rolling or jumping.
We layer their learning, using a variety of sensory inputs with fun bean bags, foam blocks, hoops, noodles and props of all kinds. We combine fine and gross motor for more success and we practice shapes and moves on the floor in a group warm up before putting them on a beam or bar.
By adding layers of technique in super fun ways, children experience the feeling of SUCCESS, which is important to them trying again. Most importantly we hide all this learning in super fun themes which our Jnr Gym Kids can relate to!
Themes help our layered learning a bit like Blooms Taxonomy – Remembering, Understanding and Applying. Our children’s learning widens and deepens as they link the new information with existing familiar experiences, or things they already know.
It’s easy to learn leg drive when you know a rocket goes BLAST OFF up to the moon; or to practice your lunge shape (transferring weight to one foot before learning handstands) when you get to be a pirate with a foam noodle sword! Standing head up tall is easy peasy when you know you’re being a giraffe. And learning opposite arms makes sense with your shakers choo-chooing like a train.
LEARNING needs LANGUAGE
Beside the rich language that can be explored in each theme, we add language to our shapes and skills in layers children will know – from sensory ‘whoosh’ sounds to theme based ‘blast off’ rockets and on to gymnastic terms like straight jump.
And just like us learning a second language – they need to repeat, repeat, repeat with lots of visual cues & props and in context to help it mean something.
LEARNING NEEDS LOTS & LOTS & LOTS OF LAYERS… & LOTS & LOTS & LOTS OF PURPOSEFUL PLAY
Saturating our shapes in lots of different ways (especially in various head positions or- vestibular ways) deepens and widens children’s learning.
For example our STAR shape had us being twinkling rocking stars, stuck star fish flat on the ground, sideways balancing stars on the beam, hanging wide legs stars on a bar, holding star shape, upside down stars in handstands and cartwheels, standing/lying/hanging/upside down in hand stand & in locomotion (to name a few!)
Our Jnr Gym Kids little brains are still wiring up and the more creative and interesting ways they can try the shapes and skills, the better it will ‘plug in’ to their bodies. Layering is learning! We use our equipment creatively and we break it down, SLOW IT DOWN, build it up and speed it up …
Socially & emotionally
Learning happens when we feel safe & secure, when our limbic system is calm and alert. We build relationships, use routines, support the valuable parent child bond in learning, work in groups, teams and pairs; and practice all our movement in excited and calm ways.
Layering learning brings confidence and a feeling of success – which is a key ingredient to further learning. We keep it fun! We keep them engaged! We keep them moving…. Learning one layer at a time!
Thanks for moving with us,