One of the unique things about having your child attend The Little Gym is that we teach in learning units, which are 3 or 4 weekly blocks of classes, that focus on specific areas of your children’s development.
So far this semester we spent the first few weeks focused on safety in the gym and correct gymnastics body positions for our skills, then we moved onto specific body part awareness; legs, arms and our cores and how they work together to keep us moving.
The last few weeks our main focus has been on balance, from babies to toddlers up to children at school and why it is so important for their development and confidence not only in gymnastics and sport but also academically & socially too!
The definition of balance
Balance is the ability to maintain a controlled body position during task performance, whether it is sitting at a table, walking the balance beam or stepping up onto a kerb. We need to be able to maintain controlled positions during both static (still) and dynamic (moving) activities.
Static balance is the ability to hold a stationary position with control for example “freeze” or “statue” games. Dynamic balance is the ability to remain balanced while engaged in movement, for example riding a boke or running & skipping.
Why is balance so important in a child’s development?
· Allows children to physically develop and move with ease when walking, running, jumping etc
· Having appropriate balance enables children to participate in exercise and sport with a better degree of success, active children are more likely to be active adults, resulting in a healthier, longer life span
· Helps children maintain self regulation for daily tasks such as table top skills and dressing themselves.
· Less likely to sustain injury as the child is likely to have appropriate postural responses when needs, for example putting their hands out to protect themselves when falling.
· Increases development with fine motor skills and table-top tasks such as feeding them selves for toddlers or writing when they attend school.
· Increases attention and concentration, as the child is more likely to be able to sit for longer periods of time as core strength is not challenged.
· Increases body awareness
· Better able to isolate their movements, moving an arm or leg while keeping the remainder of the body still, required for kicking or throwing a ball or front crawl stroke in swimming.
How can The Little Gym help my child’s development and improve balance and coordination?
1. Loco-motor skills and weight bearing activities
Every week in our classes from parent child (10-36months) through to Pre-school and grade school classes (3-12 years) we focus a portion of the class on practising and developing your child’s loco-motor skills such as walking, running, skipping, galloping and jumping. All of these things are crucial in developing a child’s confidence to move efficiently and with ease, improving muscle strength and endurance and strengthening their core.
Weight bearing activities such as wheelbarrows, donkey kicks (beginner handstands), hanging on the bars and balancing on the beams are beneficial for developing muscle strength, building bone density and challenging a child’s core, their sense of gravity and balance.
2. Directive music
We use directive music in class allowing the children to learn rhythm and timing to help with more fluid and efficient movement. The music often uses musical cues and commands such as ‘freeze’ which challenge the body to stop actions quickly and move from one skill or position to another whilst maintaining their balance.
3. Unstable surfaces
We have specialised state of the art equipment such as our ‘Airtrak’ and ‘Tumble track’ which help develop children’s trunk and core strength by making it work harder and maintain an upright position.
4. Obstacle courses
Stairs, hills, crawl spaces and stepping stones all challenge children’s balance and coordination, we include this in almost all of our classes using a variety of different equipment and challenges each week.
5. Balls & bubbles
Learning how to throw, catch, roll and kick a ball is a great way for children to work on their balance whilst also developing hand/foot eye coordination. All our parent child classes include designated time for ball play with specific games and exercises that develop these skills.
Bubbles are also a great way to have children work on their balance and eye tracking ability without even realising it, we add fun balancing activities while they reach and catch the bubbles during our classes too!
6. Bars and balance beams
We have uneven and parallel bars in our gym and the children work on swinging, hanging and specific gymnastics bar skills every week all of which allow children’s trucks to move in unexpected ways making the core muscles work harder.
We have a range of balance beams in the gym, floor, low, high beam and a beam expander allowing children to have fun balancing on a variety of surfaces and levels increasing their confidence and ability to balance safely inside and outside the gym.
If you are interested in your child’s physical development or are concerned about their balance or coordination then why not come along for a FREE introductory visit here at The Little Gym Wandsworth and Fulham. Call us on 0208 874 6567 or enter your details here.