Gymnastics for kids is a great sport for both boys and girls. This sport helps teach flexibility and balance, while also helps to improve coordination and self esteem. Your child can start tumbling classes as young as one year of age, although some gyms offer classes for babies as well. Classes for kids this young can be beneficial in helping your child to learn and to play with kids their own age. You can help teach your child some of these skills at home when not enrolled in a class. See below for a few tips.
Help improve your child's balance with either an at-home balance beam, or you can improvise with a line of tape. Place a line of tape on the floor about ten feet long. Have your child walk with one foot in front of the other all the way to the end of the line of tape. Then have your child walk backwards with one foot behind the other back to the start.
Teach your child to do a cart wheel using stickers and a mat. Have your child place their dominant foot forward, then place a sticker on that foot. With hands placed on the mat in front of their feet, have your child balance on his hands and jump to the other side of the mat. Both feet should come up off of the mat at the same time and land on the other side. You can draw hands and feet on the mat to help with hand/feet placement. If you don't have a mat, use stickers to help indicate where hands and feet should be placed.
The forward roll is fairly simple, although some kids have a problem getting all the way over by themselves. Have your child stand up straight with hands held up high over their head. Help your child bend at the waist with knees slightly bent, their head should be tucked under and hands should be planted firmly on the floor. Then have your child lift their legs and flip them over their head. Help your child to land on their feet and stand up into the beginning position with hands raised. This forward roll will help when learning how to flip later down the road.
There are other skills you can teach at home such as:
- Stretching. Help show your child how to stretch properly. Stretching will help add flexibility to your child's muscles and will also help to prevent injuries. Some stretches include:
- Hamstring stretch - have your child sit with legs stretched out in front of them (as well as in a v position) and reach for their toes. Do this stretch with feet flexed and again with feet pointed.
- Toe touch - while standing, have your child bend over and touch their toes (or as far down as possible).
- Butterfly - have your child sit on the floor and bring their feet in to touch. Have your child try to push their knees as far down as possible towards the floor.
- Table - while in a sitting position, have your child place their hands behind their back and planted firmly on the floor with fingers pointed towards their backside. Help your child bring their backside up off of the floor and balance on their hands and feet to a table position and trying to keep their core as flat as possible.
- Handstand. To help teach a handstand, help your child get into the position and hold themselves against the wall. Have your child hold their body as straight as possible against the wall.
These skills can all be taught at home, but be sure you are there to help and to supervise your child. These should not be attempted by your child alone. Practicing these at home will help improve your child's gymnastic skills while in between lessons.