Gymnastics for toddlers provides the building blocks for well balanced, all-round physical preparation. It provides the chance to explore endless ways we can move our bodies. Children discover the sensations and excitement that movements present. Further, they grow in confidence and ability and challenge them to explore other sport and recreation activities.
Fundamental Movement Skills Contained in Gymnastics
Whether they are kicking, throwing, running, jumping or swimming, a toddler’s core is involved in almost every action. Developing core strength and stability enables toddlers to maximize their power output and perform complex athletic movements that require coordination, balance, and technical skills
Without good core strength, posture is compromised and children can become tired and restless sooner as their weak abdominal muscles struggle to keep upright. This detracts from engagement in learning opportunities, regardless of how well they have been planned. Core strength benefits
Injury reduction in toddlers from improved flexibility is less affected by their increased range of motion in joints and more by the improved proprioceptive awareness. Of course participation in gymnastics and many other sports including playground games where tripping or falling may occur has a reduced risk. Falling safely
Balance is a part of everything we do. When we walk, run, bike or swim, we are balancing ourselves. If we reach for something on a high shelf, we are balancing. As we age, it’s important to maintain our balance, and if we don’t train for balance, we’ll lose it. Keeping our balance as we grow older will help us avoid falls and bone fractures.
An awareness of where their body and limbs are in space encourages children to develop both static and dynamic balance. Dynamic Balance keeps children on their feet when running, skipping, hopping or moving in general, whereas Static Balance refers to the balance required to maintain a stationary position. Equilibrium settles the mind, and through the vestibular system, prepares it to focus and maintain attention and begin the process of absorbing new information.
Our bodies perform rhythmical activities every day without us having to consciously think. The brain is especially sensitive to rhythm and has the ability to regulate the body’s internal rhythm, heartbeat, breathing and blinking. What we take for granted is the brain’s unique ability to group a batch of smaller movement skills into a chunk.
With a skill on ‘Auto Pilot’ our brain is free to engage in other aspects such as the position of others on the dance floor, our opponent on the other side of the net or the number of aerial saltos in a tumbling pass.
The application of rhythm in the classroom is as wide as it is complex. It can be found in all languages through pace, pitch and tone. Reading and speaking require development of these core components which can be achieved in an enjoyable way through activities involving music and movement.
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Ryan Williamson is a gymnastics and movement expert.
His personal experience of slipping through education's cracks gives him an unmatched passion to ensure his 3 young children learn in using methods that suit them. He has developed gymnastics based programs to improve academic test scores, numeracy, literacy and creative thinking. Read Ryan's story - above *My Story*