It’s every coach’s responsibility to instill a healthy learning environment to their young gymnasts. Therefore as a coach, creating a progressive learning environment is of utmost importance in achieving stellar results. Developing your class around child-friendly practices ensures not only your gymnasts’ success but your gymnastics program as well.
Create lesson plansCreating weekly lesson plans is a great way to stay organized and keep young gymnasts interested. Having a monthly theme with a different focus each week is a good way to get started. For example, September’s theme could be “Welcome to the Jungle” and each week the kids can be different jungle animals. One week the kids can be monkeys and the focus can be swinging and hanging. Another they could be tigers and the focus can be crawling and climbing. You get the idea, use your imagination!
Use age-appropriate exercisesNot all gymnastics routines apply to pre-schoolers. However, basic exercises like rolling, jumping, climbing, and turning can stimulate the ocular and vestibular movements in children. Children’s abilities and interests differ, so appropriate programs need to be developed to meet their needs. For example, teaching animal walks from bunny hops to bear crawls can strengthen their muscles to help them understand how to move for different skills.
Engage your studentsEngaging your athletes can brighten their mood and cause them to focus more! Since kids have different abilities, needs and interests, icebreakers, stretching and warm-ups can come in handy at the beginning of each session. When introducing a station to your kiddos incorporate a story to get them excited. Pre-school students are young; gymnastics shouldn’t be about being competitive but more about having fun.
Set stations with varietyTo make your gymnasts versatile, set up stations with variety and monitor their attempts by giving output and praises. It’s equally important to make corrections, like straightening bent legs and pointing sloppy toes.
Teach self-regulation skillsInvolve your students more by helping them develop self-regulation skills. Since children aren’t self-aware yet, they wouldn’t know if they’re slacking or acting in disruptive ways. Once children are trained to control themselves, they can develop responsible habits that can help them succeed.
Give homeworkHomework can be fun sometimes! Give your gymnasts practice assignments for them to do at home. These exercises can include stretches to improve flexibility and skills that they execute by themselves.
Communicate with parentsMaintaining good communication with parents is an important aspect of your program’s success. Do ask parents for suggestions/feedback. Chances are, parents can offer valuable insights that you can use to improve your program. Plus, they’ll love the fact that their voice is heard and valued; thereby making them loyal clients.
It’s true that teaching gymnastics to preschool children can be challenging, given their attention span, flexibility, and other factors. However, with the right amount of understanding, you’ll be able to turn your preschool gymnastics program into a thriving one in no time.