Toddler gymnastics can be great fun for both toddlers and their parents. Often, parents may not consider looking at a gymnastics school for “toddler and me” classes for very young kids. Their assumption is that a 12- or 18-month old is too young for gymnastics.
The truth is that these youngest toddlers are too young for gymnastics classes that are geared towards toddlers in the 24- through a 36-month range. However, developing a gymnastics class designed specifically for young toddlers can set them upon a lifelong path of health, well-being, self-confidence, and strong social skills.
As toddlers have special needs requiring gymnastics classes explicitly designed for them, check with your insurance agent and gymnastics studio attorney to find out what specific insurance or waiver requirements you need to put in place to protect the toddlers and your gym.
Toddler gymnastics for the youngest kids
USA Gymnastics identify ages two through five as the time when children develop critical movement skills, making this time an ideal time to have kids in gymnastics classes. USA Gymnastics also notes that once a child can walk, typically anywhere from nine to 14 months, they are ready for a parent-toddler gymnastics class.
These aren’t gymnastics classes in the sense that you’re trying to train kids on equipment or start doing strength or endurance training. These youngest toddler classes are about teaching some body awareness and body control as they roll, hop, climb, crawl, and walk all over the mats. You can also help them start to develop some balance and motor skills, including having the parent hold them as they stand on a balance beam or hang from a bar.
Providing a suitable gymnastics class for toddlers between 12 and 24 months gives parents an excellent opportunity to enjoy time with their kids while helping the kids develop physically and socially.
Toddler gymnastics that prep kids to become gymnasts
Competitive gymnasts have a fairly narrow age window, especially for those striving to compete at the highest levels. Oksana Chusovitina is the exception that proves this rule. Two and three-year-old toddlers are ready to learn tumbling skills. The appropriate focus for these toddlers’ gymnastic classes is learning the movements and skills that are the foundation of more advanced gymnastics.
They’ll start with moves such as somersaults, backward rolls, and two-handed cartwheels. They might start getting on some toddler-sized equipment, like walking on a low beam. In addition to advancing the kids’ body awareness, physical skills, and flexibility, these classes also set the foundation for how they’ll learn and interact with their peers should they start introductory gymnastics classes at age five or six.
Is it “gymnastics”? A rose by any other name …
The bottom line answer is that if you design different levels of toddler gymnastics classes that address the appropriate physical ability and safety requirements for that age – the toddlers aren’t too young for that movement class. Whether it’s “gymnastics” or a toddler fun class comes down to labeling.
As a matter of smart business and maximum opportunities for kids to discover their potential, operating toddler classes at your gymnastics school is a great idea. More classes provide more revenue opportunities, but the opportunity is more significant than that.
Quality toddler classes get families into your system, which means your gym will also be the likely option when/if they do decide to put their kids into more formal gymnastics program at a later age. Graduating up to each new level of age-appropriate gymnastics classes will be a natural progression. You’ll also be able to identify early which students show a particular aptitude for gymnastics and can start talking to their parents about moving them into the more rigorous gymnastics program.
Early childhood development classes are available to parents in all sorts of environments, from community centers to swim lessons to early education. Providing opportunities for parents and toddlers to grow together, helping to strengthen a toddler’s body awareness, physical skills and flexibility, not to mention building a lifelong love of a great sport are merely a few of the compelling reasons why your gym should start offering these classes.