A Gymnastics Tale

by Amanda J started his gymnastics class today.  I was apprehensive, mostly because this kid, will never go barefoot. When we got our introduction letter in the mail, I was made aware that bare feet were compulsory.  I was determined not to let this stop him from trying something new and something that I was fairly certain he was going to enjoy.  I started prepping him a few days before the class would start that he would need 3 things in order to participate:  a t-shirt, shorts, and bare feet

We learned of this class via an advertisement that came home from his school.  School sends home tons and tons of paper with the kids and I find it very hard to sift through it all.  I am glad I did not throw this one out along with the school catering menu or something.  Not only were the classes happening at his school which is a hop, skip and a jump away, but the timing is perfect.  8:45 in the morning on a Saturday for one hour.  I was also looking for a bit of a change from his usual activity which is swimming.  He loves those classes too, but I thought that over the winter, we would try something different.

The City of Ottawa is offering a great program for 4-5 year olds.  It is called Gymnastics - Junior Gym.  The goal is to learn basic recreational gymnastics skills as you are introduced to various gymnastics equipment.  It is approximately a 4 or 5 : 1 ratio and the kids get to participate at several activity stations with different gymnastic apparatus that are laid out in an obstacle course.

I was very impressed how they integrated pictures into the activity to give the kids a visual aid about which skill to perform and how it is done.  It meant that if the coach was working with another child they could still understand what needed to be done at a different point in the obstacle course and could attempt it on their own.  They got to bounce on a trampoline, jump off the springboard, walk the balance beam as well as snake across it on their bellies, swing on the "high" bar (it wasn't that high off the ground and there was plenty of padding for soft landings), and perform some simple tricks at the tumbling area.

J learned very quickly how to get into a handstand position against the wall by squatting beside it, putting his hands in front of him on the floor, and then walking his feet up the wall.  He was so proud of himself! All in all, it was a great experience.  I also felt so proud of him!  I always knew he was coordinated, but today I really got to see it in action!

I highly recommend this class to anyone wanting to encourage their child's gross motor, visual-motor, balance/coordination and problem-solving skills!  Very sensitive kids may not enjoy it so much as it was a very loud and busy room with lots of distractions since they had three different groups running all at once.

Amanda was born and raised in Ottawa where she continues to live with her husband and son “J”. Amanda is bilingual and interests include reading, blogging, socializing, and advocacy on children and teen issues.

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