Got a kid who’s still crawling or just starting to waddle around the house? You may not think they’re ready for the balance beam just yet.
But, believe it or not, there are gymnastic classes for toddlers and babies – and that’s because there’s a huge benefit to starting kids in the sport at such an early age.
Juanita Ray, co-owner of The Little Gym in West Bloomfield, explains there’s a lot of learning that goes on in these baby gymnastics classes and preschooler sessions, and the activities help kids develop physically, mentally and socially, too.
Gymnastic classes for toddlers and babies
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Physically, the perks of gymnastics for toddlers and babies stand out.
“It builds up a lot of muscle density and strength,” Ray says. The various activities can help kids “learn how to balance themselves,” – plus aid in coordination.
At The Little Gym, there are groups for babies 4 to 10 months old, 10 to 19 months, and all the way up through grade school. For example, in the “Birds” group (that’s for kids 10 to 19 months), tots participate in a combination of tumbling and beams and bars activities.
Kids build grip strength by hanging from bars and learning to swing, and they may even learn how to do forward rolls when tumbling, she says.
Ray says in classes at The Little Gym, they also incorporate other learning opportunities by referencing colors, communicating with sign language, and using balls and bubbles to help with hand, eye and foot coordination and visual tracking.
Then, there are the social perks of baby gymnastics and toddler gymnastics classes. Kids are learning how to listen and follow directions, Ray says, as well as interact with other kids. All the while, the classes are full of fun.
Wondering if your child is ready? At Ray’s gym, parents accompany kids under 3 years, and classes are about 45 minutes long. And Ray stresses it’s a non-competitive environment there. “For us it’s about being your best, not trying to be the best.” And, she says instructors work with kids at any skill level.
“We’re all about, ‘That was great. You were able to touch your toes or do a forward roll,'” she says.
These gymnastic classes for toddlers and babies not only help with the major milestones, but help the kids gain self-confidence, too. “They feel good about themselves,” Ray notes.
This post was originally published in 2015 and is updated regularly.