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The benefits of story-telling

Storytelling
Once upon a time at The Little Gym Wandsworth and Fulham the Funny Bugs and Giggle Worms threw a coin in the magic well, as they were leaning over the magic well, they accidentally fell in! As they fell, they saw some very strange things – they saw trolls doing forward rolls, ants in baggy pants and even running hamburger buns.

After they escaped from the well they met Kip, a friendly little chipmunk who was trying to rescue the beautiful princess Janelle from the wicked queen. They had to help Kip convince the Queen that her poisoned apple was all sorts of different things like bubble bouncers or funny hats so that she couldn’t feed it to Janelle.

At the end of their story the Funny Bugs and Giggle Worms transformed into a family of Dinosaurs, they had to hide from the humans and jump over huge tar pits!

What an adventure we had – and all this just in one hour.

Did you like the story telling of our classes this week? We sure hope so because this is just one example of how we use the 3 Little Gym class dimensions to develop your child physically, mentally and socially. This week we used our story telling theme, “Once Upon a Time” to use creative imagination and story-telling to engage your child, whilst having fun and learning new things and skills.

Some of the skills we focused on this week were handstands, forward rolls and cartwheels (Donkey kicks, egg rolls and monkey jumps to the funny bugs) – if you want to see how these skills could look in the future, check out our Facebook page for some skill progression videos/photos _______.

There are many benefits of story-telling, it can help your child with their learning and it forms a crucial part in developing your child’s overall personality. It is an age-old tradition followed by parents since time immemorial, it’s something that has been a part of most of our own childhoods too. And if this isn’t reason enough for us to include it as a child development tool in our classes then keep reading for five more benefits of story-telling for pre-schoolers and beyond.

1.)   Instils virtues in your child:

Children love listening to stories, they have favourite characters, they want to know more about them and often try to emulate them. Does dressing up as superheroes or Elsa from Frozen sound familiar? By telling your child stories that come with a meaningful message, you can teach them qualities like kindness, the importance of friendship/love, courage and honesty.

2.)   Enhances Verbal Proficiency:

Reading stories aloud helps you children become familiar with the language & pronunciation of words as well a learning new words, phrases and their meaning. It will help them with their reading later as they will have seen many words, and become more familiar with what those words look like. A fun activity to do with your children, which was also included in our name activity in class this week is to start a sentence. ‘Once upon a time there was a little girl called ... and she went to the …’ and get your child to fill in the gaps, working on their own imagination and word play.

3.)   Improves Listening Skills:

Younger children, especially Funny Bugs, usually have a shorter attention span and can struggle to concentrate on things for too long. They end up talking to you, instead of listening. Story telling can keep their attention, but also helps them to be keen to listen and understand. A fun game you can try at home, which is also our pop for the week, is to read a story to your child and then ask them questions about the story to see if they were actively listening to what it was about.

4.)   Encourages Creative Imagination:

Listening to a story helps a child imagine the characters, places, plot etc. instead of seeing it on a visual medium. This also enhances creativity, making them more imaginative and open to ideas and free thinking. We find in classes the more creative, imaginative and fun we as instructors, the better the behaviour and skill development throughout the class.

5.)   Makes Academic Learning Easier:

Storytelling for children is a stepping stone for academic learning. Many children have the habit of learning by rote, without understanding the subject. Storytelling, as a regular activity, can help children to enjoy and better understand what they are reading. This helps them in learning their subjects better. Sometimes, teaching school subjects as an interesting story (example, a boring history lesson can be turned into an interesting historical story like the ‘Horrible Histories’ books) can help them understand better and fuel curiosity.

If you are not already enrolled in our program here at The Little Gym of Wandsworth and Fulham and you would like to learn more about what we do then call us on 0208 874 6567 or enter your details for a FREE introductory visit.

The silliest job in the world...

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Are you an active, vivacious and passionate person? You could fit perfectly in our team here at The Little Gym Wandsworth & Fulham. The required person should love children first and foremost, enjoy exercise and keeping fit and be prepared to get silly and have fun every day. 

All our staff at The Little Gym are degree-educated with outgoing, positive and upbeat personalities and a passion for children and sport. You do not need to have experience within the sport of gymnastics to become a teacher here with us but you do need to believe in the power of sport and physical activity to help develop children's body and minds.  We put our teachers through a thorough, in-house training programme within the gym once they are officially employed by us. In as little as two months, you could be a fully-fledged member of our team and participating in and shouting about the sport of gymnastics.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming an instructor with us, please speak to our Gym Director Tobi when you see him or email him at tobias.rossberg@thelittlegym.eu

We raised £408.52 for Macmillan!

A big thank you to everyone who donated during our Macmillan World's Biggest Coffee Week. We managed to make a whopping £408.52 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

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We hope that you enjoyed the tasty treats on offer. Your Instructors had a lot of fun baking and despite a few kitchen mishaps along the way, managed to bake lots of yummy treats including a yoghurt cake, ricotta and chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate brownies. Yum! 

Friday 30th September is Macmillan's World's Biggest Coffee Morning

Sep 30th is Macmillan’s Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning and The Little Gym of Wandsworth and Fulham are getting involved!

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From Friday 30th Sep – Thursday 6th October you can enjoy some delicious treats after class, all baked by your TLG instructors.  All that we ask is for a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support in return.

Last year, this event was a HUGE success. We managed to raise over £600 for Macmillan and had a blast in the process. Cakes that were made included a German Stollen, a take on a Tiramisu cake and American style chocolate chip cookies. What delicious choices will you be faced with this year?

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If you love baking and creating your own masterpieces, please do bring them in and help us to raise  some extra dough for this great cause. You can be sure that with almost 600 children coming through our doors next week, you will definitely have plenty of takers!

Rat Race 2016 - We did it!

On Saturday 13th August the Tumbling Titans splashed, crashed, dived and ran their way to the finish line of the London Rat Race.

After the race 

Olivia and Lucy channelled their inner Mo Farah as they went full steam ahead over the running sections. Michela and Kerry impressed on the obstacles; crossing the monkey bars and balance beams with ease, while Matt and Tobi made a great team in the kayak gliding across the water at super speed. No doubt inspired by Max Whitlock’s impressive performance in Rio, the team even managed to find the energy to throw a few cartwheels along the way.

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Most importantly we managed to raise an incredible £430 for our charity Shooting Star Chase. We want to say an enormous thank you to everybody who kindly sponsored us. You are all awesome! 

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Remember - its not late to donate. Simply visit our Just Giving page to sponsor the Tumbling Titans.

 


Summer Camps are here!

In our first week of Summer Camps we are having a magical time learning about Legends, Fables & Folklore with our fab 3-8 olds. Meanwhile, our dynamic 6-12 year old gymnasts are soaking up the sun with some Caribbean Cartwheels and Hawaiian Handstands. Remember that camps will run from Mon - Fri from 25th July to 4th Sep. Just give us a call on 0208 874 6567 to book your slot. Hurry as spaces are filling fast!

International Handstand Day is on 25th June!

International Handstand Day is on 25th June!

Have you always wanted to perform a handstand? Perfectly, or just enough to pull out every so often at a picnic in the park? Well this is your opportunity to pick up some tricks and get practising. Then you can join in with the British Gymnastics and the BBC Get Inspired campaign and post a picture of your best handstand on any social media platform accompanied by the hashtag #Handstandday.

Remember handstands are not just for kids. The benefits include strengthening the muscles in your arms, core and back as well as helping to maintain bone density. Also being upside down can increase circulation to the upper part of the body…just to name a few!

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Here are some top tips from The Little Gym:
1. Start in a long lunge
2. Make a long reach forward
3. Look at your hands as you kick
4. Keep your body tight, drawing your toes up to the ceiling
5. Come down one foot at a time
6. Finish in a lunge

This week, send us a picture of your child or indeed yourself performing your best handstand. Make it as weird and wacky as you like. Post it on our Facebook page with #Handstandday or email it to us at Wandsworth_fulham@ thelittlegym.eu and we'll show it off to all of our members on the notice boards at the gym.

Happy Handstands!

10 Questions With...Matt


Instructor Matt started working at TLG Wandsworth in September 2015; joining us a parent & child, Pre-K and Grade school coach. 

Where are you from?
I was raised in Red Oak, Texas but I live in Dallas, Texas. 

Describe youself in 3 words
Determined, honest and loyal.

Favourite animal
Dogs or foxes.

What was you favourite subject at school?
Maths or alegbra.

How long have you been involved in gymnastics?
13 years! 3 competitivley and 12 coaching.

Favourite gymnastics skill?
Handstand

Best thing about living in London?
I like being able to walk or ride my bike everywhere I want to go

Best thing about working at The Little Gym?
Working with the great staff, who dont only love gymnastics but are great people.

Other than Gymnastics, which sport are you most excited to watch at the Olympics in Rio?
Diving

What advice would you give to aspiring gymnasts?
Practice everyday and dont be afraid to fall

We are running the London Rat Race!

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On Saturday 13th August  instructors Tobi, Kerry, Olivia, Matt, Michela and Lucy (aka ‘The Tumbling Titans’)  will be running, jumping, swimming, kayaking and sliding their way through the London Rat Race.



It is all in aid of our chosen charity - Shooting Star Chase - who provide care for children with life limiting conditions. 

We need your help to raise as much as possible for this fantastic cause and you can support the team by sponsoring us on our Just Giving page here.

All donations are greatly appreciated!

Here Comes the Summer!

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With the summer holidays right around the corner, we are really excited to share our Summer 2016 Schedule for 25th July - 4th September. Our camps and classes are a great way to keep the kids entertained come rain or shine!

Summer Camps 

Our Adventure camps for 3-8 year olds provide 3 hours of gymnastics fun to stimulate their motor, social and cognitive skills. The kids will be able to explore a world of imagination and adventure with exciting weekly themes including The Race to Outer Space, Legends, Fables and Folklore, Crazy Carnival and Green Beards Pirate Ship.

In our Skill Thrill Camps for 6-12 year olds beginner, intermediate and advanced gymnasts conquer the beam, bars, vault and floor. With weekly themes including Caribbean Cartwheel & Hawaiian Handstands, Vaulting Volcanoes and Back Handspring Bonanza the camps are ideal for kids wanting to grow their skills while having lots of fun along the way.

Camps are £35 each for members and £42 for non-members.   If you buy a block of 5 camps you will receive the 6th camp free.

Summer Parent & Child Classes

Our summer drop in classes for Bugs (4-10 months), Birds (10-18 months) and Beasts/Superbeasts (19-36 months) are fun and interactive parent & child classes based around exploration and the development of basic motor and social skills.

Classes are £15 each for members and £17 each for non-members. If you buy a block of 4 classes, you will receive the 5th class for free.

Spaces fill up fast, so give us a call on 0208 874 6567 or speak to a member of the team to book your childs space.

My TLG Class (by a Funny Bug)

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Starting on time and not a second late the teacher calls the class in the gym door with a cheerful proclamation ‘Funny Bugs come on in and get some bells!’ Every Funny Bug class starts with shaking the bells and singing our hello song. Then the teacher tells us what we are learning today, and today is all about ‘I think I can’ making the choice to be positive even if something is new, hard, or scary. Our teacher says their name and then asks for our names individually and asks us if we can do something (She asked me if I could jump on one foot!) to which we reply, ‘I think I can!’ When everyone is done the teacher explains the rules:

Rule #1: To be safe.

Rule #2: If you need a drink or the toilet ask the teacher.

Rule #3: TO HAVE FUN!

Instantly we are off! The teacher puts some music on and we are on an adventure pretending to be trains. The music is fast, exciting and before I knew it, the song was done. The teacher had us sit by the coloured wall while they set out markers, and one by one she called us into a colour train. When everyone is in their spot the teacher commences our journey and with a song we are off!

My group went to beam first where we walked on the beam way up high; I was even taller than my teacher! Then my group went to then next teacher where she taught me how to swing from the high bar. I was nervous at first but my teacher reminded me to say ‘I think I can’ and give it a go. It was scary but fun all at the same time! Once again we changed stations and the teacher taught me how to be brave as we flew (like my favourite super hero) backwards over the giant round mat doing a backhand spring.

Time was gone in a flash and my teacher called everyone back to the wall. ‘It’s time for a game’ she said with a smile. It was fun to play with my new friends and teacher! Then my teacher directed us to sit in a circle as she talked about all the things I had done today, and she said that at home we should try to keep the ‘I think I can’ attitude all week long. Then we sang our goodbye song … ‘bye, bye, Funny Bugs. It’s. Time. To. Go. On. Home.’ All of us kids ran to the wall to get a sticker before leaving, I always like it when I get the green one! Just like that my time at The Little Gym was done.  I was so excited to share what I did with my parents, and I can’t wait until my next class!

Tumble and Spin - The Benefits of Rolls

When you were a child did you love to spin around and enjoy the feeling of being dizzy? You may still experience the same dizzy feeling when you do more than one forward roll in a row, or even stand up too quickly.

Here at The Little Gym even our youngest Bugs (4 to 10 months) are taken through supported forward rolls and continue to progress through Birds, Beasts, Funny Bugs, and so on until they become masters of rolling in every direction on the floor, bars and even the beam.

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All of these rolls have one huge benefit in common - they develop and enhance our vestibular sense. Our vestibular system allows us to maintain our balance and to experience gravitational security, allowing us to maintain a position without falling. It also helps us to move smoothly and efficiently.

Because the vestibular system coordinates eye and head movements, it may be challenging for some children to complete everyday activities such as copying from a white board in their classroom, following a moving object such as a ball through the air; or visually scanning across a page to read.

The vestibular system also helps to develop and maintain an appropriate muscle tone. To understand this concept better try to balance on one leg with your eyes closed. Notice the way that your muscles will start to move and regulate your position to stop you from falling.

Apart from forward rolls, the kids at The Little Gym are challenged in many different ways to improve their vestibular system. One is used this week in our parent & child classes while we’re rounding up our Learning unit “Movement Arts and Body Parts: the AirMat.

The AirMat provides a soft and springy surface that is a firm favourite in classes and Birthday parties alike.  Its bouncy surface can quite easily throw kids off balance so their mind and body are forced to adjust their movements to maintain their balance, stay upright and develop core body strength and stability. And on their way back to the beginning AirMat the challenge continues with even more forward rolls.

10 questions with...Tobi

Tobi is our Gym Director. He started working at TLG Wandsworth 2008

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1. Where are you from?
Chemnitz, Germany

2. What is your favourite thing about working at TLG?
Seeing children grow in confidence

3. Describe yourself in 3 words
Positive, fun, learner

4. Favourite food?
Hoisin Duck Wrap

5. Favourite colour?
Brick red

6. Favourite gymnastics skill?
Back Hip Circle

7. What skill would you most like to learn?
Back hip circle

8. What was your dream job growing up?
When I was 5, I wanted to become a drummer like Charlie Watts

9. What would your superpower be?
To make everyone happy

10. What place would you most like to visit?
Bhutan

Can you touch your nose with your eyes closed?

The answer is most probably yes (or certainly very close!). But how is it that we automatically know where our nose is without having to look?
The answer is all thanks to our proprioceptive system.

Proprioception - knowing where and how the body is orientated in space - is a crucial ability that we often take for granted. It's what allows us to walk up a flight of stairs without having to look at our feet, or stops us from banging our heads as we duck under something low.

Over the next few weeks week in our Parent & Child classes we will be exploring a new learning unit called 'Movement Arts and Body Parts'. A key focus throughout this learning unit is to help develop children's proprioceptive skills. Poor proprioceptive skills in children may result clumsiness, poor coordination or seemingly attention seeking behaviour.



A great way to help develop proprioceptive skills is to encourage your child to try activities that challenge their muscles with resistance – for example swinging on monkey bars, climbing and jumping.
Another way develop proprioceptive skills is through sensory integration – the process where we are able to experience, interpret and in turn respond to the environment around us. This week in class, you will be able to see sensory integration in action as we focus of learning and identifying different body parts using a range different senses including visual, auditory & tactile.

In the meantime here are 99 cool sensory activity ideas that you can try at home.
http://mommypoppins.com/ny-kids/99-sensory-activities-for-any-child

How can I be a healthier me?

That’s the name of the game we are playing at the end of our Pre School classes this week. The children shout ‘How Can I be a healthier me?’ and we give them different options such as eating fruit and vegetables, brushing your teeth each night or helping with chores at home. If the answer we give is a healthy one they can run across the mat and try and catch the teacher.

As many of you know, here at The Little Gym we focus on more than just the physical benefits gained through their gymnastics (though this is still important), we also work on ‘Brain Boosting’ activities  - letting the children think, play and be creative, and ‘Life Skills’ – sharing, helping, making friends and thinking about their role in society. We vary our learning units throughout each semester so that the children can develop and gain confidence in all these areas.

We are currently focusing our lessons on enhancing the children’s understanding of health, fitness and personal responsibility. The Pre School learning unit (ages 3-6) is ‘Healthy Chores for you and Yours’ and has a fun focus on keeping our bodies, minds and homes healthy and fit. This week we are filling in  ‘This is Me’ cards with the children, focusing on all their favourite things. We hope you enjoy the funny answers they give as much as we do – our favourite animal choice this week has been a ‘sparkly unicorn with wings!’

The Grade School (ages 6-12) learning unit is ‘Discover the wealth of fitness and health’ where we will be using fun fitness challenges, music and their gymnastics skills to remind the kids that we all have jobs to do such as keeping healthy and helping at home and with the environment. Don't be surprised if you hear us singing, ‘I don’t want to be a junk food eater’ around the gym this week as it’s a super catchy warm up song we are doing with the kids!



It is important to make everyday things fun and creative so that the children are inspired and motivated to think and build on the topics in each learning unit. We encourage them to try new things at home such as offering to help tidy up their toys (we know how this can be a challenge at times) or helping set the table for dinner.
http://www.kidspot.com.au/kids-activities-and-games/Games+5/Make-chores-fun-cleaning-games-for-kids+11988.htm


The focus on healthy eating and lifestyle is another really important aspect of this learning unit. It holds a special interest to one of our instructors Lucy who runs a health and wellbeing website and blog called www.paleo-britain.co.uk as she has a keen interest in nutrition of adults and children.

“I work at The Little Gym part time, I also look after my sisters three children, Olive who is 4, Len who is 2 and Wilfred who is 5months, two days a week while my sister is at work. In our spare time (when we can find it) my sisters and I work on our blog; Paleo Britain. I’m really passionate about helping people lead healthier lives and making the best choices for diet and lifestyle. The most important thing is to choose nutrient dense food when making meals, especially for young children as their appetites and capacity for food are often small. Choosing the most nutrient dense meals ensures they are getting all they need to develop, physically and mentally. One thing my sisters and I have been working on are simple and quick recipes (tried and tested) that children will love.”

Check out the recipes for kids section of Lucy’s website for some tasty meal ideas.

http://www.paleo-britain.co.uk/category/paleo-kids/ The Banana & Blueberry pancakes are our favourite, and they are also dairy and gluten free!


Failure To Stimulate Toddlers’ Brains Could Set Them Back For Decades

In the last few weeks of our Parent & Child classes, we have explored the world of language development in babies and toddlers under the age of 3. Our weekly themes have included word repetition, letter shapes and sounds, rhyming and story telling.  

But why start at such a young age?  After all, a poll commissioned by Save The Children’s ‘Read On. Get On’ campaign suggested that up to 61% of parents considered the school years to be the most important learning period for children.  

For us, the reason is simple. Here at The Little Gym we believe that it is never too early to introduce babies and toddlers to a wide range of learning concepts. Scientific research indicates that the early years are the most critical in developing a strong foundation for lifelong learning.  In effect, they are a ‘lightbulb moment’ and the point in life where children’s brains grow and develop the most rapidly.

Failure to develop adequate language skills in the early years can result in children struggling to in the classroom and lagging behind their peers - with consequences that can last for decades.

Further information about the importance of the early years in speech and language development can be found in Save the Children and the Institute of Child Health at University College London’s 'Lighting Up Young Brains'.


The Little Gym Wandsworth & Fulham wishes you all a Happy Easter!


“Seventh time’s a charm”

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In the past weeks in our Parent and Child classes, we have focused on the different aspects of language development in toddlers. For example, we explored the importance of rhymes and the recognition of letters and letter sounds.

Next week we will be asking parents from our 'Beasts' and 'Super Beasts' classes to choose a story that both they and their little one love and read it seven times in a row! This scenario may be all too familiar with many of you already, as toddlers often want to hear their favourite stories over and over and over again.

So why is repetition so important, and what is the best way to read the story so your little one benefits the most?

Firstly, science has proven that repetition is the key to learning. This is true not only for forward rolls, handstands and cartwheels, but also for everything we learn.

Beyond that repetition is comforting. If you want to read more about the benefits of repetition, you can find a good article here.

A great way to encourage language development is to practice "Active Reading" during story time with your child. Start asking your child questions on each page or at the end to see how much they can remember and comprehend. They can answer using their words, or simply pointing to a picture in the book. Use your finger as a guide following the words while you are reading to teach them that reading goes from left to right. In no time they will sit down with that same book and pretend to read to themselves. Remember NOT to correct their pronunciation, but motivate and encourage by applauding their efforts so they can develop a LOVE of books and confidence in reading.


Baking FUN at The Little Gym Wandsworth & Fulham


Check out our Fantastic Easter Camps

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We are running our brilliantly fun camps for kids over 3 years of age in the week after Easter.  Camps are already filling up fast, so don't miss out!  The camps are full of laughter, fun and learning and a great way of keeping the kids active during the holidays.


Woohoo! It is the beginning of Semester 2

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We are already in week 2 of our spring term but it is not to late to join the FUN.  Classes are filling up fast, so don't delay and call us today to book your slot