For Parents "Moving Up" Charts

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Feb 22, 2007
This inquiry is for parents and coaches, I guess. Around this time of year, my daughter's gym posts a level chart on the wall outlining the skills each gymnast needs to achieve to move up to the next level for the next competitive season. As the skill is mastered, a check mark is placed in the appropriate box. When all (or sometimes most) skills are mastered, a move up is considered.

It appears as though this chart is cause for great anxiety for both the kids and the parents. I was wondering if others have experience with this type of system and what your feelings are on both the method and the result.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about it... depending on the child, I think it could be helpful, or detrimental. Let me just say that my daughter is doing well on the chart ( as told to me by another parent... I refuse to look at this point, as our current season is still ongoing!) so I'm not soliciting negative feedback...I'm just curious to hear another opinion.

I anxiously await your responses!
We do not use this method. The gym started using testing methods. I like the chart idea better because it gives the kids more than one opportunity to get the skills to move up. Do they post this in a public place? If so I do not think I would like that.
Our pre-team girls get quaterly progress sheets sent home to the parents. Our pre-team program has 3 levels, so the sheets are made specifically for the level they are at. They started this the year after my daughter moved up to team and I think its a great idea. Gives everyone an update on what skills the girl can do consistently on her own, needs a spot or just learning.

Wish they would do something like that for team girls. It is so confusing to the girls and parents.
Yuck. To me, mobility is between me, my daughter, and her coach. It's not for others to ponder or track. Now, if this is a private discussion between the three of us, then a checklist of skills can be a good measuring tool and a good way to set expectations, and even a good motivator.

But even then, a chart that's used too literally tries to make objective something that is largely subjective. A child might have all the skills but not be ready emotionally. Or she might be missing a skill but the coach has the experience to know she'll be ready. And as the optional level, you can introduce skills as the season progresses.

Certainly minimal standards are needed (such as, why do Level 5 if you can't do a kip or safely clear the vault table?), but I'd rather have an experienced coach who knows how a child will fit at a new level, than a checklist. And I'd rather the conversation be private with the family and coach, and not public.
Skill charts are a great idea and essential for any well organized program.

I do agree with Mac...posting them on the wall could lead to some problems. Most of our gymnasts immediately compare their skill sheets, but it is their choice if they would like to share it.
I keep my skill sheets in a notebook. Each kid in my classes has a sheet protector with skill sheets in it. If a parent asks how a child is doing and wants to know more than just generally, I show them the skill sheets and explain from that. It works really well for me. The kids are allowed to see them any time after class. They seem to like seeing how they are doing on paper as well. The team kids all have their skill charts posted on a board. I see parents checking them occasionally, the kids check them even less frequently. They don't seem to cause any anxiety at our gym.
Our head coach sends home an individual letter to each team kid's parent letting them know the progress of the child and what skills they need to move up and what not. I think doing this is a great idea, but I wouldn't recommend posting it on a wall--that could be embarassing and kill motivation for some students.
Many gyms use skill charts, and keep them posted. They sometimes only have the major skills listed and are used as an incentive, making it a big deal when you can put a check, or star or smiley face by the skill. Skill charts should be used to motivate children, and if that is not being done things need to re-evaluated.
It's really tough to say that posting a skill sheet on a wall can be harmful to a child. If they can't do a skill, you will see them NOT doing it at practice every week. It's really no secret, all the kids in the class or team will be aware of who stands where.

It can be tough for children to accept that they cannot do a skill (or that someone is better than them), but learning these "lessons of life" make them a stronger person. I was never the best at my gym.
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