Toddler tumbling classes are gold mines for gymnastics gyms. They provide much value, but they also come with their unique set of requirements. You definitely want to offer toddler tumbling classes to your community, so here’s everything you need to know to make these classes awesome.
Who’s a toddler?
Let’s define our terms. Generally, toddlers are anywhere between 12 to 36 months old. This is a useful, general working definition, but can be refined a bit when talking about gymnastics classes.
The main dividing line for the two types of toddler tumbling classes to offer is whether the toddler is sure on his or her feet. The youngest toddlers (you can even take toddlers as early as ten months) can’t walk far on their own. Older toddlers can. Design separate classes for toddlers who are confident walkers and those who are not, as they’re in very different developmental stages.
All toddler classes can include both boys and girls.
Understanding the business value of toddler tumbling classes
These toddlers are far more than cute. As we said from the outset, toddler classes are gold mines for your gym.
- Toddlers are your largest target market in terms of potential students. There are far more families that want to find movement and “bonding time” classes for their toddlers than there are families with older kids dedicated to learning gymnastics.
- Toddler classes are the most robust source to fill your classes for older students letting you build a pipeline of future business. In other words, get those families into your gym as early as possible. Once they get to know you and your teachers, have confidence in the atmosphere and instruction your gym provides, they’ll stick with you. They’ll enroll their other kids. They’ll tell their friends.
Toddlers provide the best opportunity to amplify a student’s lifetime value for your studio.
- Toddler classes maximize your space utilization. Gyms are big. You have fixed costs for renting space, plus there’s your investment in all the equipment to fill that space. You need to maximize your return on these costs by using every relevant way you can to earn revenue. Older kids have to go to school — you’ve got after-school and weekend classes for them. You may even have before-school training classes for your competitive team. However, what can you do with those hours while older kids are in school? Run a full complement of toddler and pre-school classes! A robust schedule of toddler classes helps you avoid zero revenue hours at your gym. Every hour your gym doesn’t earn money, is money COMING OUT of your pocket.
Devote your attention and resources to toddler classes that they deserve. These classes should not be afterthoughts. They are a critical revenue stream for the long-term success of your gym.
Main goals of a toddler tumbling class
For the most part, the primary physical goals for both youngest toddler and confident walkers are the same, even though many of the specific activities differ. Both class types should focus on developing body awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, and spatial and perception skills. The key difference between the two classes is that the parent will nearly always be hands-on with the youngest toddlers, while the confident walkers can do more activities with spotting or just a watchful eye.
The typical skills covered in toddler tumbling include mastering different:
- Sitting positions such as the straddle, tuck, and pike
- Two-foot jumping skills, think: bunny hop and frog jump
- Rolls — from log rolls to forward rolls
It might also include activities such as walking on the beam, hanging and swinging from a low bar, and playing with balls in ways to develop balance and motor skills.
The confident walker tumbling classes also start teaching kids more personal and social skills. Design lesson plans that deliberately address issues such as teaching them patience and how to take turns, how to pay attention, and how to take direction. Use a teaching approach that builds confidence and encourages good socialization with the other kids.
Leaning into the toddler mindset
The toddlers need constant engagement, so keep them moving. Teaching their parents how to facilitate this is part of the job of running a toddler class (more on parents later). Remember, toddler engagement requires more than moving around. All their senses are on high alert, so incorporate fun ways to stimulate their senses.
- Use mats and rollers and balls in bright colors. Any toddler equipment, from crawl tunnels to wedges, should be a loud, riotous mix of colors.
- Try to find equipment with different textures as well.
- Play music and sing songs during activities.
Provide a lot of positive reinforcement and call out to each toddler by name at least once every class. Toddlers love hearing their names get called — it makes them feel special.
Last, keep in mind the chaos of a gym can be overwhelming, especially if it’s a new environment for the toddler. Encourage parents to bring their toddler in before the first day of class, so they can get start getting acquainted with the space.
It’s also a good idea to encourage parents to arrive at classes early. Parent and toddler pairs can play around on their own on the floor mats which gets the kids energized. It’s also an informal opportunity for the teacher to greet each parent and toddler, and check-in with the parent if there’s anything they should know about how their child is doing that day.
Managing the parents
Oh, boy. Sometimes, the parents can be more challenging to manage than a crying or unruly toddler. The best way to manage parents is to prepare the parents. Put together an info packet that tells them exactly:
- What skills and activities their kids will be learning
- How their kids should be dressed
- How to prepare their kids before class (e.g., what/when to eat, hygiene)
- What their (the parents’) role is during the class, especially regarding how to handle and spot their kids, as well as when and how disciplining their toddler, if needed, will fall to them
You may even want to have a monthly new parents’ orientation class for all first-time enrollees. It’s a great way to deliver critical information face-to-face, sort out any outstanding administrative issues (e.g., collecting needs fees or signatures), and start building a cohort community for these parents with same aged children.
Toddler tumbling classes should be fun for everyone
Toddler energy is infectious. When you’re doing toddler tumbling classes right, everyone is having a great time – kids, parents, and staff. So have fun and build that revenue pipeline!