Why gymnastics is the ideal activity for many toddlers and preschoolers
Flexibility increases the range of motion of the body, improves performance, prevents injury and supports good posture. Flexibility is a key focus area of gymnastics. Toddlers and preschoolers are guided through the basic postures such as the straddle, pike, arch and bridge. These movements reinforce and increase the natural flexibility of young children, laying the groundwork for extreme flexibility as they grow and develop.
Gymnastics uses a child’s own bodyweight to build strength. This is a safe way to build dynamic power and core strength. Push-ups, handstands, rope climbs and pull-ups are challenging and extremely effective. Young children “build up” to these movements with easier exercises like knee push-ups, pull-up holds and handstands against the wall. Strength movements like these also increase bone density, which results in stronger bones throughout adolescence and beyond.
A gymnastic event such as the vault requires the coordination of many different skills, including running, squatting, jumping and landing. The balance beam requires coordinating power, flexibility and balance. Developing this strong mind-body connection will enable the participant to excel in sports and many other areas of life.
For toddlers and preschoolers, gymnastics is more about having fun and discovering the fundamentals through games and play. However, based on the maturity level and accumulation of skills, the child may be promoted to more advanced classes. These classes will be more structured and require greater levels of attention and dedication. Discipline will be developed along with the physical skills.
5. Cognitive development
The ability to perform the skills of gymnastics requires more than physical prowess, it also requires a great degree of cognitive development. Discipline, focus, and dedication not only help in the gym, they are qualities that carry over to school and virtually every area of life.
Gymnastics offers countless opportunities for the child to face and meet challenge after challenge. Working consistently towards and meeting difficult challenges builds self-esteem and confidence.
7. Social skills
Interaction with various instructors and fellow gymnasts will help develop social skills outside of the home and normal daycare or preschool environments.
Children of small stature and build are often at a disadvantage in many sports. In gymnastics, this is not as much of a factor. In fact, smaller children often have an advantage in many of the exercises and events.
Gymnastics is an excellent choice as a developmental activity for young children. It is not only for those with aspirations of becoming the next Olympic superstar. Gymnastics is an excellent foundation for developing athletic qualities for other sports. Furthermore, it will help promote social and cognitive skills that are invaluable in the classroom and beyond.