School bells are ringing all over the country, which means it’s time to switch from a summer schedule to a school schedule. For many kids, this means choosing after-school activities, whether school or club sports, part-time jobs for the older ones, clubs, or other activities. When you’re evaluating your child’s after-school options, keep gymnastics in mind.
It’s true that many kids are over-programmed, being shuttled from one activity to another 5 or 6 days a week. Kids definitely need some down time, but they are also sick and tired of sitting at desks all day long. Even the most engaging classrooms simply can’t give kids the time, space, and structure they need to expend energy and develop physically. This is why gymnastics can be so valuable. A good gymnastics program provides structure in a safe environment, lots of space for uninhibited movement, a positive social setting, and an opportunity to develop both physically and mentally. What more could you ask for from an after-school program?
Kids learn best from playing, and gymnastics has this in spades. Younger kids tumbling around on mats think they’re just having a blast, but they’re really learning muscular control, balance, patience, and how their bodies relate to the world around them. In fact, there are probably a few adults who could benefit from an after-work gymnastics program! After sitting in chairs and on the floor most of the day, children will benefit from a focus on physical activity after school. Gymnastics offers that activity in the form of a structured program designed to progress as the child progresses.
At a good gym, you’ll find experienced instructors who can meet your child where he or she is and help them develop while they’re having fun. Of course, a good gym will also have solid, safe equipment and apparatus for the gymnastics program. Be sure to take a close look at the equipment; it should be in good repair, clean, and in use. These are good indicators that you’re looking at a good program. There should be crash pads everywhere – that’s a good sign that safety is a primary concern. And while the more recognizable apparatus should be visible, look for smaller objects like lower balance beams and bars, skill shapes, and other skill-developing equipment. This tells you that your child will be walked through the learning process at his or her own pace. You may want to consider purchasing some of the practice equipment for use at home, too.
If you find a gym or club that has all these things, you’ve found a safe, nurturing after-school option that will continue to teach after the school bells have stopped ringing for the day.