My little gymnast is 3 or 4, so why are parents still on the floor? Here are the reasons why we have our Helpers out there on the gym floor & some tips for getting the very most out of your Mover class with your little gymnast!
3’s & 4’s do the 2 Step
Age 3 -4 is a magical turning point in children’s development. Compared to their nappy days, they seem so very grown up and capable. But as we all know, some days it’s 2 steps forward 1 step back!
Don’t mistake those new found capabilities with independence quite yet. Just because they can do it a few times, doesn’t yet mean they’ve mastered safe practices to go solo! You can definitely take a step back so they can show you how they’re going, but we’re not ready to leave for the grandstands. There are still many, many ways you are needed to support them on their journey to truly successful independent learners.
We get to do LOTS!
We know many of our little ones are able to follow an instruction (or maybe even two!) However a coach giving true duty of care to a group of little 3-4 year olds without their helper, navigating our exciting gymnastics equipment and across our range of activities – well, basically would mean we’d be doing a lot less in each class.
With the support of a caring Helper, children can engage in so many more rich movement experiences, which is much more fun than waiting your turn at this age.
With you there they have a personal moving assistant – and if you’ve got a confident mover, that is exactly what they’re still wired to do…move! It’s the way they learn and all that very structured & listening stuff is still a work in progress at this age.
Some Wiggle Room
Play is the other way children learn. It’s vital and powerful and the way their brain retains information. Many of our activities are set in a pattern & although our Mover class is certainly about moving from ‘explorative play’ to a more ‘directed play’ our 3-4’s are our in-betweeners, still wanting and needing to repeat & have choice in their play.
The very nature of play can be a random thing. With you there the important play element can remain. Those little moments of fun and joy are great learning moments shared with you.
You Know Them Best
Our Jnr Gym Kids are all so very unique. Their little personalities are developing and it’s the little things, the subtle cues that a busy coach might just not see in the moment that are so very important to them. With you there (knowing how much sleep they’ve had or how much breakfast they didn’t eat or they lost their favourite toy on the way to class) they have the chance to practice over again the activities they love or need a little extra time on. Because you know your child – you are there to give that flexibility in the moment and especially to lock eyes and say WOW, look what you just did!
Phones Away Time to Play
Stay present and enjoy the little things. Life is busy and this time with your children is fleeting, so enjoy the one on one time without interruptions. Let them know you are all theirs!
But they Don’t Need Me!
Sometimes they don’t seem to need us anymore, but really – they do!
…That beam seems so very long & high today. Our Movers are starting to control their balance and some of their motor skills, but have by no means completely mastered their bodies yet. Someone they know, love & trust on the ready & able to remind them of what the coach said can give a confidence to try or practice mastering.
…Physical Support. Besides a hand on the beam, we have all those little adjustments, reminders, resistance games to help them squeeze their legs and feel where their arms are during gymnastics class. Adjusting that feet mat just a little to help a successful reach… these are truly the little things that add up to confident attempts and feelings of success that build the strong foundations of body control & independent correcting.
…That jump will do. Another little learning opportunity they may have missed without you to help out. By having fun and playing with some personal challenges “let’s try and reach my favourite colour this time”, children get another opportunity to give it a go and you get another bonding moment of encouragement.
…That bean bag just won’t stay. Lots of our activities use sensory feedback to support stronger body awareness and they are still mastering their own body control, never mind a bean bag too. Having your help, further enriches their learning.
…Cognitive Support: Where do I go now? What did the teacher say? Hand holding & guiding them; helping with the layers of sequencing & remembering instructions; whispering a quick reminder in their ear “what did the coach say again? Hmm I think it was… (drop in a clue!)” are all little prompts which benefit our Movers so much.
Practicing the names of the shapes & skills (don’t worry – we help you with this with our station cards for you to read to them); playing a game of “What was next” or “What does the train whistle mean again?” all provide support which is invaluable on their journey to independent recognition and response.
…Social Emotional Support: I can’t get my favorite colour! That boy just won’t share the blocks! It’s MY turn! I want to be first! These social and emotional skills need gentle repeated modelling, practice and a little adjudicating or hand holding. While your coach will be on the lookout for these moments, your presence ensures they are ones of learning and not meltdowns. Having practiced these with you, they will have a much better chance of manoeuvring these tricky skills that are so important in independent classes.
…The tramp looks fun I’ll just run over there and have a quick bounce! Suggesting “that’s a great idea, but let’s check first if anyone is on it”, or “I think that’s after the next train…” is a great opportunity to support emotional regulation – one of the key skills Prep teachers believe is a prerequisite to successfully transition to independent learning.
Remember: With Children, Slow is Fast!
This is one of my favourite lessons. By taking the time, allowing for play, being there to teach, to model, to stand near as they try, and then cheering them so personally on their journey to independent classes – you’ll be waving them off to school and not seeing them for a whole 5 hours quicker & more successfully than you think! (I know, I know “bring it on” you may say – tissues on the shopping list that week) .
It seems a little clichéd and so very hard to appreciate until it’s over… but it will all end so very quickly and they actually won’t need you one day. Confident, happy kids equipped with the skills they need to thrive (not just survive) in their big school world is what we want for them too!
But don’t just take our word for it. Research has shown over and over how vitally important YOU and your support is the in these critical early years to build those strong foundations they need.
So stay a little, kick off your shoes and PLAY with them. Watch their eyes light up as you jump over the hoop and roll down the hill after them in this very fleeting time that is early childhood.
We thank you so very much for sharing your child’s journey with us …. Moving, learning & growing with us at Delta Jnr Gym Kids.
See you in the gym,