Sports activities are more than just fun and play for the child. These activities are a great way of developing lifelong skills in children requisite for their optimum development.
It is a common misconception to associate gymnastics with professional athletes and fierce competitions, but this is far from true.
Organized sports are a great way of developing social skills, emotional intelligence, and qualities like self-confidence as well as independence in children.
In fact, Gymnastics contributes significantly to the child’s cognitive and physical development process.
While not every child aspires to be a professional gymnast like Simone Biles or Nadia Comaneci, gymnastics as a sports activity can help alleviate the child’s physical strength and confidence.
Gymnastics is an effective way of putting your zealous toddler’s energy and enthusiasm to great use.
While enrolling your tiny toddler into their first gymnastic class can be exhilarating, it can be difficult to promote your child to adapt to these changes.
If you are a parent or immediate caregiver who wants to enroll your toddler in a gymnastics class, collecting appropriate information is requisite.
Here is a gymnastics starter guide for toddlers to help parents facilitate and guide them through their child’s gymnastic classes.
What are Gymnastics?
The term gymnastics comes from the Greek adjective “gymnos” which is related to the Greek verb “gymnazo” meaning “to train, to exercise” or to “train naked”.
Gymnastics evolved from ancient Greek exercises that involved the athlete mounting and dismounting a house, as well as different circus exercises.
Gymnastics is a sport that requires physical exercise incorporating balance, flexibility, agility, coordination, strength, endurance, and determination.
Gymnastics is amongst the most physically and mentally demanding sports that require the athlete to work with great perseverance as well as masterful skills.
What are the benefits of Gymnastics for Toddlers?
Gymnastics is a physically and mentally demanding sport that requires innate skills and determination from an individual.
While commonly associated with pro athletes and competitive sports, gymnastics provide your child with a wide range of benefits that contribute to their development process.
To help you determine whether or not gymnastics is meant for your child, here is a list of benefits that gymnastics offers to your child:
Contributes to cognitive development:
While flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination are some of the obvious factors that come to one’s mind, this sport contributes significantly to the child’s cognitive development process.
Learning, trying, and completing different tasks or activities involved in gymnastics requires the coordination of one’s physical and cognitive skills.
The use of physical skills in conjunction with the brain helps the child develop requisite cognitive skills, bodily awareness, and spatial awareness.
Strengthen the bones:
With accelerating age, the bones begin to lose their density. Hence, it is imperative to encourage children to perform exercises involving weight bearing to strengthen the bones.
The earlier the child performs activities and exercises involving weight, the more these activities will benefit them in later parts of their lives.
Gymnastics promotes children to partake in activities involving balance beams and monkey bars that help strengthen the bones.
Promotes overall fitness:
Along with developing and strengthening the bones, gymnastics also contribute significantly to the child’s overall fitness.
Gymnastics involves movements and activities that help strengthen and enhance the upper body as well as the lower body, resulting in a strengthened core.
Core strength allows children to quickly learn new activities and prevents the risk of injury.
Builds Confidence and self-esteem in the child:
Believe it or not but performing gymnastic activities help develop self-esteem and confidence in children.
After the successful completion of tasks, children gain a sense of accomplishment which contributes to their self-esteem and confidence.
By mastering physical feats and tracking their progress children are able to work with a new sense of confidence.
Gymnastics also promote and encourage the child to face their fears as they advance in their training process with new confidence and self-esteem.
Helps the child meet their daily exercise requirements:
Daily exercise is requisite for the development of gross motor skills in children during their early stages of development.
Gross Motor Skills are abilities that are required for the movement of Large Body Muscles to perform basic activities like walking, climbing, crawling, jumping, and even sitting.
Gross Motor skills involve the movement of larger body muscles- arms, legs, feet, and the core muscles present in the torso.
Gymnastics incorporates different activities that promote the development of arms, legs, back, chest, shoulders, and abdominal muscle groups.
In fact, gymnastics also helps children with exceptional energy to put their enthusiasm and zeal to good use.
Enhances the child’s posture and flexibility:
It is a known fact that gymnastics promotes and enhances one’s flexibility and overall posture.
Enhanced flexibility and good posture contribute significantly to the child’s overall health as they move further in life.
A good posture and flexibility help reduce the chances of injuries as well as the risk of falling victim to back and spine issues.
Develops Sportsmanship in the child:
While gymnastics is an individual sport, it does involve cooperation, coordination, and building a good relationship with peers.
Gymnastics helps children develop the quality of sportsmanship and learn about healthy competition from a very young age.
Develops Social and Emotional Skills in children:
Lastly, gymnastics also helps with the development of social skills and emotional skills in children.
Social and emotional skills in children allow them to express themselves appropriately in different social settings and environments.
Gymnastics encourages your child to coordinate and cooperate with their peers as well as understand the importance of healthy competition.
Children are also able to develop emotional intelligence, emotional resilience, and confidence by achieving their goals and tracking their progress.
What are the drawbacks of Gymnastics?
While gymnastics has several benefits there are also some drawbacks or cons of this form of sport.
Here are some drawbacks of gymnastics that may or may not concern you as a parent:
1. Emotionally Challenging:
Gymnastics involves high expectations from both parents and coaches alike that often take an emotional toll on the child.
Gymnastics includes advanced levels of motor skills that might not be developed in children based on their age.
Not meeting the expectations of their coaches and parents can lead to frustration, agitation, and disappointment in children.
2. Risk of Injuries:
Not only is gymnastics emotionally challenging but it is also a highly physically demanding sport.
When compared to common games played by children at a young age, gymnastics involves activities that may risk serious injuries.
3. May hold your child back:
Gymnastics is more than a sport and often includes life-changing factors to help the athlete achieve maximum goals.
This high-level sport can often lead to the child missing different age-appropriate milestones and games.
As gymnastics is more goal-oriented and an adult-orientated sport, it can interfere with the child’s personality development process.
A list of different Gymnastic activities for toddlers:
Gymnastics is a sport that advances in an ascending format, meaning the difficulty level progresses as the child moves forward in their training.
To help you guide your child and get them started on the right foot here are some age-appropriate activities for your tiny toddler:
1. Obstacle trails:
Obstacle trails are a simple gymnastic activity that is great for warming up the child for further gymnastic activities.
It requires the child to perform physically challenging tasks encouraging them to leap, jump, and even tumble.
Here is what you will need for this activity:
- A bridge station
- A wedge mat
- A Handstand station
2. The Talent Routine:
This is another fun and exciting gymnastic activity that will definitely bring out your child’s creative side.
The talent show gymnastic routine promotes conditioning in children, which includes the development of gross motor skills and the strengthening of core muscles.
Here is what you will need for this activity:
- Balance beams
- Hula hoops
- Music Player
- Vault horse
3. The Pretend Routine:
Toddlers are curious and enthusiastic hence exercise or activities meant for toddlers shouldn’t be boring.
This pretend-play gymnastic activity is more exciting and engaging than one may think.
Allow your child to become any animal of their choice and encourage them to jump, bounce, twirl, hop, and leap on all four of their limbs.
This simple activity is definitely a fan favorite and totally toddler-approved which does not require extra materials and helps optimum motor development in children.
4. Island Tag:
Last but definitely not least is the Island Tag gymnastic routine for toddlers. This gymnastic activity helps with the development of flexibility, agility, and strengthening of the muscles present in the legs, hips, ankles, and feet.
This gymnastic activity is as simple as the game of tag with a creative twist. All you have to do is spread out different mats to pretend island and the floor to pretend water.
The gymnasts will be promoted to run from one island to another by avoiding falling into the “water”. Whoever falls into the water will be out of the game of tag.