Many people think of gymnastics as the star of The Summer Olympics. What people don’t know is that it is one of the most beneficial activities for children of all ages and abilities with fitness, academic and social benefits.
FITNESS/SPORTS READINESS BENEFITS
Gymnastics requires strength, balance, flexibility and coordination. These are the cornerstones to sound physical fitness and athletic performance in all sports. Core strength is the buzz word in fitness and sport specific training these days. Core strength in children can help maintain proper posture while sitting in a classroom. Gymnastics is all about core strength. The simple skill of performing a forward roll requires core strength in maintaining a rounded body throughout the movement. Walking across a 4 inch beam requires balance and an ability to use the core muscles to maintain that balance. What seems like the simple task of running and jumping onto a springboard to vault onto the table requires the coordination of combining running, jumping and squatting onto a raised surface. Hitting a ball, kicking a soccer ball are both enhanced with improvement in balance and coordination. These are all elementary skills that are repeated over and over in gymnastics pre-school class.
Movement can be the architect of a child’s brain. Bilateral movements commonly found in basic gymnastics activities help in the communication between the left and right hemisphere. The left hemisphere sees the letter and the right side comprehends what it sees. Gymnastics requires a similar coordination of building simple movements into a complex skill or routine. This early learning transfers to the classroom, helping your child with sequenced instruction from and instructor.
Participating in a class environment at an early age is crucial to helping a child adapt to a school setting. Gymnastics participation is no different. Children learn to move from station to station in a sequence without getting lost. They are required to sit and listen while getting instructions. Children are taught how to wait for their turn and that they are not always going to be first in line. Learning a new skill helps to show a child that success requires repetition. The joy of mastering a skill after multiple repetitions is the ultimate benefit in helping a child gain the confidence needed to succeed.
The next time you see high level gymnastics, remember that it is the basics of rolling, jumping, tumbling, running and swinging that will help your child build a strong foundation for a strong future in whatever they do.