It really isn’t difficult to encourage kids in gymnastics, because chances are, the first time they take a class and see all the potential routines, apparatus, and powerful role models, they’re going to fall in love with the sport on their own. To encourage this enthusiasm, this unconscious desire to lead an active, healthful lifestyle, you can do plenty and it won’t necessarily cost you an arm and a leg.
Young kids in tumbling classes are learning how to execute maneuvers safely. Fun is paramount, but it can’t be taught or had without safety. As these little guys develop gross motor skills, they’re bound to accumulate a few bumps and bruises, but a good instructor at a facility where you see padding everywhere is going to make sure the kids get off on the right foot. And that’s great. But what about when they come home and want to show you how they practice their bridge in the driveway? No way! Even home practice needs to be safe and well-equipped.
Tumbling mats are everywhere, and you definitely need to get your hands on one or two. That’s the bare minimum to have at home so the kids can show you what they’ve learned in class, practice whenever they feel like it, and even use them just for play. A well-constructed tumbling mat should be firm but shock-absorbing, easy to store, and appealing to the kids.
For the novice gymnastic parent, it’s hard to know what questions to ask about home equipment (“Should I have uneven bars in my backyard?”) when you don’t know what’s available. And the answer to the ridiculous question above is an adamant “no.” But there are apparatus that are made for home and gym use, and some that are especially designed for encouraging younger tumblers and gymnasts to practice at home. A soft, wide, and low-to-the-ground balance beam is one such piece of equipment. These vary in width where the child’s feet will be, and a good one will taper outward to a larger base as it sits on the floor. These provide beam simulated conditions for the kids to practice all their balancing and even strength skills. They come in various widths and heights, so you can choose the one that fits your child’s age and weight.
Incline mats are an excellent way to help children tumble, practice walk-overs, back handsprings, and a host of other skills. They’re just really fun pieces of equipment. You’ll notice the younger ones coming up with all kinds of additional uses for them. The good ones are firm, the larger ones should fold for easy transport and storage, and they should always be affordable. There are lots of good ones out there that don’t require a second mortgage.
Getting the kids interested in gymnastics is actually the easy part. Encouraging their interest can be just as easy with a few gymnastics apparatus in your own home.