If you are thinking that you might want to enroll your toddler in gymnastics class, or even if you already have, you may be wondering just what to expect in your first gymnastics class. One thing that you will definitely need to know is what to take and how to prepare for your first class.
Of course, there are some things that are going to be different from one gym to another, and this is something that you should keep in mind when you are choosing the gym that you want your toddler to go to.
Depending on the age of your toddler, you could even try to find a “mommy and me” type of class. These can be a great idea if your toddler is shy or you aren’t sure how well they will do for any reason. Instead of watching from the sidelines, you can be working with your toddler yourself as the instructor will show you what to do in order to help your little one do the various moves that they are supposed to.
Pro Vs Play
The first thing that might play to largest part in the environment of the gym is whether this particular gym is trying to turn out professional gymnasts or just to provide a place for toddlers to have fun. These latter gyms are still going to have plenty of mats and other things like bars, but the whole gym will even look in many cases like it is more fun.
A gym that has a greater ratio of teachers to students is likely going to cost more, but it is also going to give your toddler more serious training along with the fun. Both types will likely have a number of foam shapes of all kinds, stacks of mats, barrel shaped ones, circle ones, wedge shaped ones, mailbox ones, and more.
There may very well be other classes going on at the same time for the older gymnasts, which means that there is going to be a constant murmur of background noise. Some of this will be people talking, but there will be other noises that you will hear fairly commonly such as landing thumps when a gymnast lands off of the beam, off of the bar, or at the end of a flip or vault.
Also, since gymnasts work really hard, there is also likely going to be a sort of locker room smell in addition to the smell of disinfectants since the equipment in a clean gym should be disinfected on a regular basis. Some kids dislike the smell, while others do not even seem to notice it.
If you are in doubt as to how well your toddler will be able to adjust to this new environment, then it can be a wise idea to take them to the gym to watch a class first so that they can get used to it for the first time with you right there.
Finally, some gyms that are more for play do not have a set area that is solely for gymnastics. In this case there will be less equipment, and what there is will be things that can be folded up and put away so that the area can be used for other things when the class is over.
What They Will Be Learning
Like the environment, what your toddler will be learning is also something that will depend some on if it is a pro gym or a play one. Play gyms can do quite a bit of working on some of the motor skills, however even por gyms do a bit of this especially at first and these are also made to be fun for toddlers.
A 3 or 4 year old toddler can start working on all four of the different gymnastics events. While a 3 year old is not going to be doing any vaults any time soon, they often can have fun running down the runway as fast as they can and jumping onto the springboard.
At this age a toddler is going to be working some on their strength when it comes to the bars, and they are encouraged to try to pull themselves up to the bar to their chin. They will also be working and having fun at swinging themselves back and forth on the bar.
On the beam they will work on their coordination when it comes to getting on the beam and they will also learn how to get comfortable walking down it, turning around, and walking back without falling over. They will also work on jumping off of the beam while it is just barely off of the ground so that they can work on sticking their landings which is a vital part of gymnastics.
On the floor the toddler will be doing rolls, both forward and backwards, and likely even starting to work on other things like cartwheels, handstands, and splits as well. These and other things will help their hand-eye coordination and their balance.
How To Prepare For Your First Class
Usually the class will start with some form of a warmup to get the toddlers used to the habit of warming up before they work on their gymnastics. However, this is very important, so don’t think that it is something that would be okay to run late and to miss.
Being late will also mean that you will miss some of the opening instructions and other important things, not to mention disrupting the rest of the class. So, the first thing that you should do is to make it a point of being on time, being a little early is even better.
After you have signed up for the class and know the right time to show up, you will not need to do much in the way of preparing. Of course, your toddler will need to have a leotard and possibly some shorts to wear with it.
They should be clean and, if you don’t have a leotard for them, whatever they are wearing should at the very least be something that will not come up when they go upside down or be too restricting while they are trying to do new things.
If they have long hair, then this will need to be pulled back as securely as possible so that those rolls on the floor will not undo it. On this same note, learning a roll with a ponytail can be a bit painful for the back of the head, so go with a low ponytail, pigtails, or a braid if possible instead.
Socks can be worn, but not shoes unless they are specific gymnastics shoes. Also, your toddler is not allowed to wear any jewelry for class, including bracelets, rings, necklaces, or earrings. The only exception that is made for this is if your toddler just got their ears pierced and must keep earrings in for a while, but even these should be small studs.
Before you leave you should also make sure that your toddler eats a good breakfast an hour or two before class. This will help them to have the energy that they need, and it will also mean that when they go upside down that they will not have eaten so recently that it makes them feel nauseous.
While you will not need to bring anything to class, it can be a good idea to bring a water bottle and a light snack for after the class. Also, try to make sure that you take them to the bathroom right before class starts, which is a great reason to make sure that you get there a few minutes early.
Many gyms that have toddler classes provide an area for the parents to wait at. These are a very nice place to meet the other parents, but you do not have to stay here. In fact, sometimes if a toddler is prone to looking over their shoulder every two seconds to see if their parent is watching, it might be better to not have the distraction of a parent being there.
For this reason, some classes will not have these observation areas, so that way the teachers are the only adults present and can more easily get the toddler’s full attention. These will often have certain days set aside for the parent to watch, however, so that they are not excluding the parents entirely.