Your child can start in a formal gymnastics class from around 2 to 3 years onwards. If your child is younger than this, you may want to introduce them to a baby gym or active class to bridge the gap. Some gymnastics clubs may offer special baby classes as a precursor to toddler and preschooler gymnastics.
As well as the more general gymnastics courses, you may find specific courses such as trampolining and tumbling are also available for your child to attend.
What your child will do
By following a gymnastics class, your child will become a master of movement. Classes start with a warm-up and gentle stretching. Gymnastics sessions are usually structured around a piece (or several pieces) of equipment or on a particular ability, for example tumbling, bar or hand apparatus work.
As well as providing regular variety, this allows your child to focus on specific development areas and challenges one at a time. There will be some fun activities included, such as mini gymnastics circuits, which will also help develop basic skills and co-ordination.
Music can also add an extra dimension to classes and encourage little ones along. Size-appropriate equipment will be introduced for use during classes.
Classes end with a gentle cool down and some classes award gymnasts on a weekly basis with achievement stickers, which are great for instilling pride, confidence and increasing ability and willingness to learn.
Look for sessions that are run by qualified British Gymnastics Preschool Gymnastics coaches for added reassurance and safety. A British Gymnastics Preschool coach may also be following the British Gymnastics Preschool Proficiency award scheme that is aimed at children aged between 3 and 5 years old.
How your child will benefit
Your child will develop both physically and socially as she progresses through her gymnastics classes.
Muscle power – Physically, your child will see an increase in muscle strength and flexibility.
Posture – posture will improve greatly as she becomes better able to align her body correctly whilst performing routines.
Co-ordination – Agility, balance and co-ordination will increase as will the ability to focus and relax before performing certain tasks.
Body awareness – Your child will become more aware of her body and how to control it as well as the relationship between certain areas of the body and gymnastics equipment (e.g. using bars, pole work).
Achieving goals – She will also become more confident and aware of how to challenge herself and get great satisfaction from achieving goals. Other skills that can be picked up include improved accuracy, alertness, and ability to time actions.
Awards – Some gymnastics clubs are affiliated to the British Gymnastics association, which means that your child may be able to work towards certain proficiency awards specifically for preschoolers. Many clubs also offer their own merit and achievement awards, which will raise your child’s sense of accomplishment.
Varies within the low to medium range (approximately £4-6 per class) depending on location. Club or membership fees may also apply so check with your class provider.