Parents frequently question at what age they should start to enroll their children in sports. Though all children are different and will learn at their own paces, it has been proven that they develop body awareness primarily during the ages of 2 through 5. While children will benefit from gymnastics classes at any age or level, the earlier a child begins repetitively practicing movement skills, the better grasp he or she will have of the concepts of gymnastics technique.
A clear progression exists in the sport of gymnastics, lending itself to specific milestones achieved throughout a gymnast’s career. Such like children must crawl before they can walk, gymnasts must roll before they can flip. Not only must gymnasts be able to perform each skill, they must perform it with the proper technique and form before building upon it, to prevent injury. Several children have a natural athleticism and knack for sports, which may make the process of gymnastics progression easier for some than for others. However, this does not negate the succession.
For example, a back handspring begins with a bridge, which progresses to a bridge kick-over, which progresses to a back walkover, which then progresses to a back handspring. And before the bridge is possible, gymnasts must develop their shoulder flexibility and upper body strength in order to perform the skill properly. Initiating this process at an early age allows the body positions and movements to become second nature. This makes building upon each skill easier for a gymnast.
Preschool Gymnastics Classes
Gymnastics classes are generally developed to target specific age groups, with talent coming into play at a later age. At the preschool age, classifying gymnasts by age group is usually most appropriate. Parent and child classes usually focus on gymnasts aged 6 months to 3 years. These classes consist of the basics of movement and body awareness. At 3 a child is more aware of his or her body, and can begin to build upon those movements. Three to five-year-old classes introduce gymnasts to the main equipment of the sport, and begin the process of gymnastics succession.
Some of the basics of body awareness and movement include crawling, walking, jumping and climbing. Parent and child classes may play games intended to teach young gymnasts about where their body parts are, what they are called and how they move. Three to five-year-old classes typically learn skills such as forward and backward rolls, tables and donkey kicks. At this age, gymnasts are able to follow directions and discover how their body moves without the assistance of a parent.
Benefits of Preschool Gymnastics
Regardless of age, gymnastics is a beneficial sport for all children. It teaches gymnasts about themselves and their physical limitations, as well as possibilities. The skills developed through gymnastics, such as flexibility, strength and endurance, are also used in several other sports. The earlier parents enroll their children in a sport such as gymnastics, the more opportunity the child will have to learn and progress.