When little Pudding was first born, and I started being able to get out and meet other Mums again, there was a lot of chat about how to entertain your toddler after a newborn had arrived. As us mothers do, we swapped activities we liked, parks that worked and cafes that could accommodate.
One of the suggestions that caught my attention was Gymnastics. I hadn’t realised there was a Gymnastics Academy right on my doorstep and that they catered for children from pretty much the point they were mobile.
We started going along in the summer to the drop in sessions to see what it was like. I was able to put little Pudding in the sling and Princess could run explore the equipment. She enjoyed the trampoline, well anything she could jump on or off really. The session wasn’t structured at all, but it was a great way to get used to the equipment.
The Academy also offer a structured class from 2 years old. I thought this would really help us both learn some of the techniques for gymnastics so I could support Princess with the drop in sessions better.
The first lesson was horrendous. She didn’t want to follow instruction. She clung to my leg and screamed instead of joining in. She couldn’t understand why she couldn’t just run off and play on the trampoline if she felt like it.
The sessions are fun and start with a warm up ‘game’ to music. Then there are normally 2 circuits set up that the children do in small groups, before coming back to a ‘warm down’ activity. Each session ends with a ‘goodbye’ song and the obligatory hand or foot stamping (or often both).
Because it has a familiar routine, it only took a couple of sessions for Princess to get in the swing of it and understand that she needed to follow the instructions and stay in the circuits. Now she really loves it, especially if she gets to swing on the bars or balance on the beams.
Her structured session is on a Monday, and the drop in session is on a Thursday. What has been really interesting to watch is whatever technique she has practised in the structured class, she remembers on Thursday, and without prompting she practises in the drop in sessions. I’m also better able to support her as I can remind her about the techniques she needs to use to get better.
This week she was learning the beam, and I managed to get these videos of her practising what she had learned. I apologise for not having the phone the right way up in advance, I will try harder, but I had to share these with you to show how she was getting along.
To say on Monday she insisted on holding my hand, and she’s started to use her arms to balance is amazing. She finds another beam where she can jump into the pit too:
I’m not sure we have a gymnastics star in the making, but she is learning some valuable lessons about listening, following instruction, copying and how practising makes you better at something. I’m so glad we tried this out. Sessions are only 45 minutes long, but she is worn out after them which helps us out no end.
If you have a Gymnastics Academy where you live and you’re looking for something for your toddler to do, I would recommend giving this activity ago. It’s great exercise, fun and it’s something they can develop as they get older. Also, if Daddy isn’t fond of watching ballet, he might appreciate it too!