Q. Why are Gymfinity Classes so important?
A. We make smarter kids!
Having a child experience movement is critical to brain development. When a child moves (or an infant is moved), it stimulates the vestibular system in the inner ear. The vestibular system stimulates the cerebellum which contains half the brains neurons but takes up only 1 tenth of it’s volume. Vestibular movements develop the brains capacity to learn more complex things like writing, reading, math and memory. (Ayers, J. Sensory Integration and The Child. Los Angeles, CA. 1991). We cannot overstate the importance of young children getting vestibular stimulation every day and Gymfinity classes are sure ways to develop skills as well as help with very important brain development in our smallest gymnasts. Here are some developmental milestones and an application of each to Gymfinity for your growing child:
18 months to 2 years old
I love to explore on my own, but with you close by: During our Gym Sprouts (where the parent is present) or Gym Sprytes, we may see kids wander off to “check out” other areas, shapes or colors.I love to hand things to others as I play: We incorporate hand objects like bean bags, scarves, or small balls for kids to move, throw or share.I might be afraid of strangers but I will show affection to familiar people: Sometimes the first class can make kids cling to mom or dad, but in time they adjust to the familiar and happy face of their teacher. Establishing trust is essential for school/day care preparation.
I can follow simple verbal commands: After teaching children the appropriate skill at a station, we will often use only verbal cues to instruct. This develops a child’s ability to recall, reason, and form concrete decisions on their actions.
I can identify ordinary things and I know what they’re for: We will often have lessons that incorporate props for play or identification, again helping children develop more refined thought processes.
I am finding midline crossing skills are a little challenging: Crossing the midline is any activity that uses the right side to do something on the left or vice versa; this forces the 2 hemispheres of the brain to talk to each other and heightens cognition.
I really think being upside down is an interesting perspective: Kids love to see the world differently whether hanging upside down or supporting themselves with their feet elevated. This perspective change is fun and stimulates the vestibular apparatus in the brain.
I can proudly walk alone and may want to walk up steps and/or run: Kids are experiencing the joy of independent movement and are ready for more challenge now that their first attempts are “mastered”. Trying to walk on a beam, or hop on one foot reinforces the simplicity of walking and running in normal circumstances.
I really love being at different heights and bouncing: Perspective change and bouncing develops eye tracking skill and vision development. This aids in learning to read, as the eyes coordinate together to meet words on a page.
2 year old Developmental Milestones
I like to copy others, especially adults and older children: This modeling allows kids to start defining themselves as individuals.I start to get excited when I’m with other children: We make sure that there are always fun group activities to encourage kids to be together.At the same time, I really want to show you my independence: Again, this is a sign of self definition and exploration of the outside world.
I love to build towers of 3 or more blocks: They will understand structures and anticipate instability.
Now I’m ready to follow 2-step instructions such as “pick up your shoes and put them in the closet:” This simple development allows teachers to use directions that may include several steps at a given station.
Sometimes I use one hand more than the other: This allows for hand manipulation stations like bean bags or ball throwing to cross the midline of the body. Crossing the midline is any activity that uses the right side to do something on the left or vice versa; this forces the 2 hemispheres of the brain to talk to each other and heightens cognition.
I like to stand on my tip toes: This action develops lower leg and foot strength as well as balance.
I can kick or throw a ball pretty well now: This allows the coordinated movement patterns of eye with feet or hands. This multiple utilization allows connected areas of the brain to communicate and refine movements.
I just want to run: Their newfound coordination makes them want to use this locomotor skill all the time, which sometimes bugs us as parents but indicates that they are ready for more physical challenges, and that’s a good thing.
3 year old Developmental Milestones
I don’t have as much of a problem separating from mom and dad: They can identify safe places to play like Gymfinity and safe people to play with, like their Gymfinity teacher.Sorry, but I might get upset with changes in my daily routines: They now understand and can see routines as concrete. When things change they are often stressed. They also anticipate routines like “Is today Gymfinity day Mom?”I totally get the concept of “mine”, “his”, or “hers”. They also are comprehending personal space and shared space.
I love to pretend and fantasize creatively. Often in class we walk over hot lava, and across rivers on logs instead of over the red mat and across the balance beam.
I can follow more complex directions now: This allows 3 year olds to be in class independent of their parents. That’s a big step for our little ones.
I can count and I understand the concept of counting: Often they have the option to count steps, throw a certain number of bean bags or use their numbers in other ways.
I’m a better climber now: That explains the climbing all over the house. We encourage climbing at the gym over climbing at home; it’s safer.
I can hop and stand on one foot for up to 5 seconds: We have practiced balancing before this point, but now we see proficiency at balance skills.
I can walk forward AND Backward. We have kids walking backward and forward on beams and using other locomotor skills as well. Running, hopping, jumping, turning and tip toe walking put Gymfinity kids well ahead of the curve on locomotor development.
4 year old Developmental Milestones
I like to cooperate with other children and adults: You will see less separation anxiety and less tantrums with babysitters, teachers or at the gym.
I like to talk about what I like and what I’m interested in: Kids can better express themselves at this age. Skipping, hopping, rolling, and other vestibular stimulating activities have given your child a head start on speech development. For Gymfinity parents, this means your kids are probably talking up a storm.
I have a better understanding of time: They learn length of time for class, preparation time before leaving for class and how long it takes to get to Gymfinity.
My attention span is so much better now: This is always getting longer as they age, but we take into account how long we spend explaining activities in relation to actually doing them.
I can remember more complex directions: With their independence, kids now are able to process more complex directions. We now are breaking down skills into parts for them to master and can instruct up to 2 corrections at a time.
I can draw pictures of a body that are more than stick figures: We use more specific body part terms with our instructions:“Straight elbows” as opposed to “straight arms”. It seems like a small difference but it’s important that parts are labeled and kids understand their own form.
I love to hop on one foot: Kids now have no problem overcoming physical challenges and being able to apply movement strategies to movement problems.
I know how to see and anticipate bounced objects flight patterns: Most often, kids can catch a bounced ball or are aware of how it will bounce to reach a target or come to them if thrown.
I am way more confident hopping over obstacles and landings on my two feet: Hopping over, jumping up and down, and jumping for distance have been in our curriculum from the beginning.
5-7 year olds
I am continuing to show you more of my independent side: By this age, coaches can interact with specific skill stations while others are self directed by the children.I’ve really become more aware of others’ feelings (empathy): Some time is given in class for team building activities, things like team challenges, or games can help develop a sense of feeling for, and with, other people.I am starting to develop friendships: At this age kids are showing preferences for specific foods, skills, activities, and people. Gymfinity is a very positive scene for kids and we encourage friendships between the kids as much as possible.
I’m pretty good at expressing myself through words: Kids now can understand their directions and we often ask them to repeat back what they understand. This not only ensures that they understand our directions but it helps them develop communication tools.
I understand cause and effect relationships: Our classes help them understand that certain movements or patterns will cause specific results. For example putting the arms out to the side while turning makes the turn slower and often can lead them to be off center. Understanding these relationships allows them to understand why they have specific techniques to skill performance.
Now I’m beginning to show you my preferred learning style: Everyone learns differently. We are aware of that. That is why we utilize many different strategies when implementing lessons.
I am really more coordinated in activities using large motor skills, such as climbing, jumping, and swinging: at this age we start our skill specific classes and allow kids to choose gymnastics, trampoline or fitness based programs.
I can do a forward roll: And they’ll get lots of practice during their class at Gymfinity!
I can catch a ball and throw it too: Hand eye coordination is well developed now as is foot eye coordination
8-11 Year Olds
I really enjoy being with my friends and I might even have a best friend: Gymfinity is a great place to come and play with a friend or spend time at open play.I am starting to understand appropriate behavior and social norms: Because of their self confidence, instilled through acquiring skills and fitness levels that exceed their peers, kids from Gymfinity are seldom subject to bully behavior in school or on the playground.I really enjoy being involved in group activities: Kids do enjoy being part of a group and gymnastics classes at Gymfinity allow them to have a group experience while still having the satisfaction of being independent when doing and performing skills.
I still have a black and white perspective about most things, which can make it difficult for me to understand some complex issues: Many concepts of sports are very concrete. Gymnastics and Trampoline both fulfill that description not only with rules for performance but with cause/effect of performance as well.
I can almost always plan ahead and use organizational skills: Being able to be and actually being organized is often a very different story for 8-11 year olds. But they do possess the skills by this point.
I have learned to think independently: By this age, coaches can interact with specific skill stations while others are self directed by the children.
I have become more proficient in sports and hobbies: They continue to show preference for specific activities.
I got this “control in both large motor skills and fine motor skills” thing down: Skills offered in Gymfinity classes are always developmentally appropriate.
I have developed a good sense of endurance for activities such as running and bike riding: Sadly, many children don’t get as much activity in these years and that makes Gymfinity an even more important part of a child’s development.
12-18 Year Olds
I have established my own identity: We believe that part of that identity should include a feeling of being fit and having a healthy self image.I have formed some strong friendships: We have seen kids that became friends in Gymfinity classes maintain their friendships into adulthood. We couldn’t be more proud of our program being the starting point for such life-long friendships.Cognitive
Most of the time I am focused on the present, but I am beginning to understand that my actions can affect me in the future: This is evident, for example, in team athletes that train 12 months for a 4 month season. It can also be seen in kids who do classes for fitness sake, since their benefits are often more abstract.
I understand that issues are not always clear cut and can be seen from different viewpoints: Working in a group becomes an exercise in empathy and tolerance.
I still sometimes may experience a period of clumsiness as I adjust to a bigger body and longer limbs: Kids in sports have a different experience with growth. Many times, skills feel foreign to them as their bodies develop. This can be frustrating, but having a program that understands this process can help them be more comfortable as they adjust.
I benefit greatly from physical activity, with 60+ minutes a day being recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services: Classes at Gymfinity are 75 minutes long. That gives kids more, with one class per week, than the base recommendations for kids this age.