I love gymnastics. It started as a young kid and without really knowing why I always felt like being in constant motion. I loved hopping, skipping, climbing, balancing along walls, swinging on branches and generally being upside down…
There are not just physical benefits as to why every young child should do gymnastics…
1. SOCIAL SKILLS – First friendships begin in class and gymnastics classes create a framework for learning about relationships with their fellow peers. Kids learn how to wait their turn for a go on the apparatus, how to co-operate with others, show good manners and listen to the coach. These opportunities to socialise help a child to build positive relationships and trust with their peers and adults.
2. EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT – It’s important to give children opportunities to develop self-awareness and to understand their thoughts and feelings and how to deal with them. Gymnastics exposes children to a range of healthy emotions in a safe environment. Think of the range of emotions that a child may go through to master a forward roll – feelings of frustration, determination and then a sense of achievement and enjoy. Or what about the feeling of overcoming fear as they walk along a beam. These emotions help a child to build resilience, which is their ability to adapt, or find a solution in times of stress or challenge. These skills help children to better deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life.
3. COGNITIVE & LANGUAGE BENEFITS – The exercises that take place in a gymnastics class build essential neutral pathways in the brain that aids problem solving skills, independent thinking as well as mental focus, concentration and spatial ability. Children are also exposed to new language. For example, names of new skills and words that are not in their everyday language.
4. CREATIVE – Young children have great imaginations and love to be creative. Through the gymnastics environment kids can swish their ribbons as they transform into ballerinas on a grand stage, or pretend to be cute rabbits as they jump over obstacles, or go on an adventure as they negotiate a gymnastics circuit without touching the floor because it’s turned to lava!
5. PHYSICAL – The main physical benefits of gymnastics include building strength, flexibly, power, agility, spatial awareness, balance as well as stamina. These help to develop healthy muscle growth, coordination and build lifelong healthy attitudes to exercise. There is also a strong correlation between physical activity and academic achievements. Studies have shown that exercise increases blood flow to the brain and helps the body build more connections with the nerves, leading to increased concentration, enhances memory and better developed problem solving skills.
No wonder hopping, skipping, climbing, balancing along walls and swinging on branches and generally being upside down was so much fun!
Manami is the owner and founder of Gymnasticals.