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Video:Tips for Teaching Gymnastics to Preschool-Aged Kids

with Tayla Vexler

Coaching Preschool-aged gymnasts requires thinking about the sport in a more creative way. In this sports video from About.com, learn how to run a safe, fun, and educational class for your tiny gymnasts.See Transcript

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Transcript:Tips for Teaching Gymnastics to Preschool-Aged Kids

Hi! This is Talya Vexler for About.com, and today we'll talk about teaching gymnastics to preschoolers.

Teach the Basics First

Here at our school, we like to start by teaching the preschoolers the basic positions, making sure they know tuck, straddle, pike, pointed toes, those kinds of things - so that when you're actually doing gymnastics, you can refer to those positions and they know exactly what you're talking about.

Utilize the Safety Stop

Another position that we use constantly is the safety stop. That's when they jump off a piece of equipment at the end with bent knees, and we refer to it constantly throughout our preschool classes. This is a position that the preschoolers should learn right away for safety when learning equipment. And we also get a lot of feedback from our parents saying that they see their children using the safety stop on the playground when jumping off the swings and things like that.

For gymnastics instructors, that position comes pretty naturally, so we don't feel like we always need to teach it. But if you've ever been with a group of preschoolers, it's very obvious that a lot of them don't know how to jump off something and land safely.

Think of How You Phrase Things to Pre-Schoolers

You want to think of what you're telling your preschooler before they take their turn. For example on bars, if you say "jump down" while they're hanging, you might notice that they move their legs like they're trying to jump. The more clear instruction is to say "let go," and land in their safety stop - and you'll get a much better result.

Allow Pre-Schoolers to Make Mistakes

Also remember to let your preschoolers make mistakes. Mistakes are just as important as successful attempts. And you want to make sure that when you're correcting those mistakes, you only correct one thing at a time. This is true for all ages and levels.

Keep Gymnastics Class Moving

Remember to always keep your classes moving. Preschoolers have a really hard time sitting and waiting for their turn. So for as much time as possible, make sure that they're moving around. Here at our gym, we use obstacle course with one station that the teacher helps the class with, while the other kids are going around the obstacle course.

Demonstrate What You Mean

And lastly, always make sure that you use demonstrations to show preschoolers what they need to do on the specific pieces of equipment. We like to demonstrate and explain the obstacle course first, then let the preschoolers give it a try.

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