5 Practical Benefits of Class Activities for Preschoolers
Taking the leap and signing your child up for an independent activity can be challenging. While some children are chomping at the bit to attend their first class, others are timid and slow to let go of mom or dad's leg. However, gymnastics classes for kids provide the perfect opportunity for growth. Separating from mom and dad and taking on new challenges provide benefits that carry with the preschooler throughout their lives.
1. How to Ask for (and accept) Help
Gymnastics is a physically and mentally challenging sport. Many of the skills used in a preschool gymnastics class are learned skills. As a coach, there are a lot of times I see preschoolers become frustrated. It is important to teach children at a young age it’s okay if they can’t do something by themselves. It’s okay if they must try a skill hundreds of times before they get it right. And most importantly, it’s okay if they need help! As a coach, it’s my job to help them succeed. To a 4-year-old, asking for help can seem like an intimidating task. Preschool minds are developing at such a rapid rate that asking for help preforming tasks (not only complex, but also simple) is a vital part of skill development. Gymnastics encourages asking for help by requiring preschoolers to push their physical, mental, and emotional boundaries. As they break down those barriers, they see that asking for help results in good things and they are more likely to do so in the future – not just at the gym, but at home and school as well.
Leaving the comfort of mom and dad’s arms is HARD for a preschooler. Multiple times a day, preschool coaches carry a screaming child into the gym. However, by the end of class, the child is smiling and when asked “Are you excited for next week?” we hear a roaring “YES!” Gymnastics helps preschoolers learn that even though their parents aren’t holding their hand through the entire class, when class is over they will have someone special to hug and someone equally excited they walked all the way over the beam or did an awesome forward roll. Down the road, when your preschooler is ready to venture off to Kindergarten, separation will be easier. They will know they can grow and learn while having confidence they’ll have someone to listen to all the exciting things that happened while you were away. Separation is equally, if not more difficult for parents. It’s hard to watch your 3-year-old step out of their comfort-zone. Gymnastics provides a stepping stone. At they gym, you can watch their bravery grow and their minds flourish.
There are many times in a preschool gymnastics class we ask a child to do something that sounds impossible. One time, when helping a 3-year-old who was new to gymnastics go “around the world” on the bar, she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Are you CRAZY?” And who could blame her! The idea of flipping around the bar is scary! Preschoolers fall often, and they know it is risky; sometimes they damage more than just their ego. As a mini gymnast, they are taught to be brave. With the help of their coaches, they break through barriers and find ways to overcome their fears. Courage also teaches preschoolers that just because they don’t want to do something, doesn’t mean they don’t have to. Cleaning up doesn’t sound like fun to a preschooler who spent the whole class working hard. But gymnastics teaches preschoolers what is expected of them: if we want to play, we must help clean up when the time comes. Even though cleaning up doesn’t seem like a task that takes courage, to a worn out 3-year-old, being courageous enough to follow through and live up to their coach’s expectations is truly an act of bravery.
Gymnastics helps preschoolers become patient in 2 ways. First, it teaches them to wait their turn. Not many 3-year-olds are good at waiting in line or standing still while a teammate finishes their turn on the trampoline. Coaches define expectations for preschoolers and as preschoolers become accustom what is expected of them, they develop patience; with patience comes a reward. As a preschooler, gymnastics isn’t a race or a competition. It is simply a way for young children to discover how patience affects how they see themselves and how their peers see them. Gymnastics also teaches preschoolers is they aren’t always going to be the best at something on their first try. Skills take repetition to improve. Repetition creates habits. From good habits, a skill can be perfected. However – repetition takes patience. It’s not easy for anyone to try a skill and fall short several times. Gymnastic coaches have the responsibility of motivating preschoolers’ patience. As a coach, I’m constantly using phrases like “That was your best one yet! Let’s keep practicing.” Gymnastics is a great tool to encourage your child to be the best version of themselves. As your preschooler learns the importance of having patience with themselves and others, their attitude towards life’s challenges will change.
Separation from mom and dad, learning to ask for help, discovering courage, and developing patience are all essential ways your preschooler will develop self-confidence. As a young gymnast becomes self-confident, their view of the world transitions from a place of uncertainty to a place of possibilities. Instead of thinking of challenges as negative experience, they become positive ways for preschoolers to prove to themselves and others what they are capable of. Self-confidence doesn’t appear overnight and even children with the best self-confidence have moments of weakness. Gymnastics provides a setting where children are constantly encouraged to become a better athlete… and a better person. They are deterred from using phrases like “I can’t” and instead given the opportunity to try and when necessary – try again. Preschool gymnastics is special because they are never asked to do the impossible. With persistence, each skill is attainable. As skills are achieved, self-confidence grows. This is a cycle that continues over and over again, class after class. As a coach, one of the most rewarding phrases to hear a child say is “I can do it by myself!” because it means not only are they growing as a gymnast, but they are building themselves on a foundation of confidence with a “can do” attitude.
Whether your child is outgoing or shy, coordinated or clumsy, the benefits of gymnastics will help shape your preschooler into a more rounded child. I encourage you to check out a gymnastics studio near you today!
P.S. Nap time is made easier by gymnastics classes!