Coaches Parent and Tot Class Ideas with Limited Equipment

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Jul 12, 2019
So I generally teach preschoolers at a gym that I work at, but I have taken on a second job with a community recreation centre. I am teaching a parent tot gymnastics class, with 18months - 3yrs, in a small recreation room and it is an hour long. I have about 9 kids, and this week was the first week.

Lesson plan attached. I had a basic circuit set up with lots of small equipment. Within the first 10 minutes all of the equipment was strung across the room, and I had very little participation in the warm up. The hour was a mess. The poly dots were in a circle but ended up stacked and scattered. Some of the older siblings were completely moving the tunnel around, and the parents didn't seem to be 'disciplining' at all.

I would love some warm up ideas, as well as general management ideas. I know it will always feel a little crazy but hopefully it can get slightly better.

Following this with no time in between I have a 3-5yr old class. The circuit worked alright with them, and the class went really well. So whatever I do, I need to be able to quickly set it up for the 3-5yr old class.

I have two ideas that I would like thoughts on. As the only major equipment I have is panel mats. I was thinking of doing a line of them, and introducing the small equipment one at a time. When done with it, putting it out of reach so I only have 1/2 small equipment things going at a time to feel less chaotic, until they understand not to move stuff everywhere.

If I was to continue to do circuit stuff, I was thinking to do exploration time first? Im not sure if that would work better or not?

Thoughts and ideas? As well as what expectations should I have/mention to the parents?

Equipment I have access to: Panel mats, a ladder bar set, tunnel, small slide, hula hoops, cones, scarves, ribbons, poly dots, soccer/dodge balls, ride on toys, musical instruments, parachute, masking tape


  • Parent & Tot Rumble and Roll Lesson Plan TOL 1.pdf
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I think your main focus is to make the parents understand that they are responsible for their child. The main focus on parent classes are to help the children learn how to focus even if it is for one minute. Warm up should be around the parachute. Running. Explaining skipping. Step hop. Walking on their toes like giraffes or hands and feet like lions. Then using the parachute to jump from the floor onto the parachute and back. Then with circuits get the parents to sit the children down and eyes on you. You quickly demonstrate the circuit explaining to parents how they can be involved with the child whilst going around the circuit. Then you stay on one thing to support the child I.e forward rolls. And the parents then go around the rest of the circuit with their child following the instruction you gave the parents.
It usually takes my new tots 3-4 weeks to get comfortable with the class format. I can imagine it's that much worse with all new kids! We explain the parent's role at the very beginning: prevent your child from running off, be hands on with spotting (we go over safely spotting when demonstrating the circuit), and don't get frustrated if your kid doesn't want to do everything at first. Parents shouldn't be on phones or talking when the coach is talking. They need to follow their kid around and try to keep them on track/prevent collisions. After that, we pretty much ignore the parents unless we need to correct/suggest something. We talk directly to the kids. We don't expect as much as we do of our preschoolers, but we set the groundwork: keep hands to self, sit on your color dot (or in parents lap), follow the correct order, etc. They don't get to start the circuit until they sit on their color and wait for their name to be called. We keep our happy voice on, and reassure the parents it takes time. We understand every kid has their own individual starting point and we work with that. We give out extra stamps for good behavior, knowing that 'good behavior' standards are different for each kid and what they are capable of in the beginning. Kids who are waiting patiently get to demonstrate the circuit.

For warm up, I actually dislike having the kids move around in a circle (around the parachute, color dots, whatever). Kids inevitably run into each other and start to bolt across the floor. I have the kids stay on their color. We "squish our colors" (straight jumps), do open close jumps, jump in circles (hello/goodbyes), hop on one foot, frog jumps, flamingos (passé stands), etc. I keep it pretty much the same every week so they get used to the routine. Then we stretch by making cookies in the straddle position (kids get turns adding stuff), pike stretch (tickle the sky, tickle knees, tickle down legs to toes...or alligator chomps), butterfly stretch -} sniff toes (kids love it, lol), then tables. If we have time we do baby splits, starting with one leg in front then rocking like a rocking horse.

Ideas for panel mat circuit stations: crawl through tunnel (prop panel open in a triangle tunnel), bear crawls across panel mat (eventually we add backwards, and sideways across two panels), frog hop across panel, candlesticks on panel (sit/roll back with small stuffed animal between feet or hands), baby levers (lunge in front of panel, bring stuffed animal down to "kiss" the panel), hands on mat -} jump to bear or squat, donkey kicks with hands on panel. Use the masking tape to show where hands/feet go.

Spotted stations:

Stack a few panels, have them lay on stomach, hands on ground and forward roll off. Same with backwards (lay on back, reach back with hands, pull feet down to bear).

Headstands with head on dot or in hula hoop. (I don't trust parents to spot this correctly so I spot this or heavily supervise.)

Forward rolls on floor.

Other ideas:

Lay out the hula hoops in different patterns: open close open close, ski jumps, straight line for forward or backwards.

Use hula hoops to show where feet or hands go. For example, start outside hula hoop, put hands sideways in hoop (maybe with masking tape lines), jump feet to other side in a monkey jump/baby cartwheel.

If you have enough panel mats, make two small stacks like an imitation of parallel bars, and have them hold a pike or tuck (we use stuffed animals to encourage feet off ground). If you can get the stacks tall enough, have them do little tap swings with hands on each stack and kick the cone over (parallel bar glide swings).

Hopefully you eventually get more equipment to work with! Mini tramps and a small cheese mat will add variety.

Hope that gives you some ideas!
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