Coaches Preschool fundamentals H.O.T. class

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I just took this recently as part of the USAG gymnastics college class offerings. I don't coach preschool classes, but there is a lot to be learned since older kids do have to transition. I'm leaving some highlights here for those who are interested. Preschool ages are defined as between 1 1/2 and 5. It was taught by Linda Thorberg, and she was great, I highly recommend taking the full course if you're so inclined.

Interesting Preschooler Facts:

Their heads are as much as a third to a quarter of their body weight. Inability to do some things doesn't come from lack of strength, but disproportionate weight distribution until they mature.

Their bones are not fully calcified, have a tough gelatin-like structure until they mature and are soft.

Their joints can dislocate easily.

They are extremely flexible, and can contort due to this. The danger is that positions they flop into can hurt them later, but they have a hard time understanding what doesn't immediately cause them pain.

A preschooler should not jump from a height greater than they can initiate. Generally they can jump between 3-5 inches. Anything higher should be spotted or with a hand-hold.

They don't resist impact automatically when they jump, that's a learned skill. They automatically bend their knees or fall into it until they've practiced how to land on two feet.

Activities to avoid:

Full circle head rolls
Old fashioned windmills (kids can twist or bend down, not both at the same time)
Hurdler's Stretch
Yoga stretch called The Plow
Deep repeated squat thrusts
Deep repeated squat thrusts
Deep repeated lunging
Extreme trunk twisting
Frog jumps
Lateral flexion with both arms
Pike, butterflies, or straddle stretches with head down
Double leg lifts
Standing toe touches
Straight leg sit ups
Back bends
Bridges from a stand

Parent Tot Class Pointers:

Never ask a child of the parent-tot age to separate from their 'big person.' It's considered developmentally appropriate for them to be attached, even if they wander occasionally.

Keep the big people involved. They like to gather and talk about adult stuff if the kids aren't being needy sometimes. The best trick to combat this that was shared was gathering everyone for a 'blast off.' Ask everyone to come together, have the kids reach in the air, and their big person lift them a few inches off the ground. It makes transitioning between activities easier to have everyone gathered.

No tears in class rule- optional of course, and if space allows, but the theory is this: A kid crying in the room is (obviously) a distraction for the others. The upset child may get more stressed out with an audience watching them, and if in private they will feel more secure using their words with their big person to find a resolution to their problem. It's normal for kids to have stressful times that result in tears, explaining the rule to parents beforehand shows that rule is designed to be sensitive and not about exclusion.

Stuff they can do thats been altered:

Backward rolls- ALWAYS on a wedge due to head size/weight. Hand placement should be one hand on top of the other over the back of their neck. Their elbows will come in contact with the wedge for the roll. We tried it in the class, it felt weird, but makes sense and is easy.

Headstands: The kind where you walk feet up a wedge or wall, with a spot. One hand at the legs, the other at the shoulder to take weight off the head.

Jumping on the trampoline: The tendency is to look at their feet, which due to their heads makes them fall forward or on to their knees. Ask them to look at something eye level while bouncing. Ideally at the coach or their big person to avoid this.

Things they should learn in a parent-tot or preschool class: Hint! It's not backbends or robh which shocks some parents lol. How to catch, throw, kick, step using alternate feet, jump rope, track objects, jump and land on two feet. If they don't have these skills to build on, learning gymnastics at higher levels is obviously much harder.

Kicking: have them on their knees 'walking', arms above head and kick an inflated balloon with their knees. Big person should be holding their hands while walking behind them as they follow the balloon. When they master this they can try with feet or kicking a balls.

Tracking an object: Have them hold a scarf at eye level, then drop it and watch it fall. It falls very slowly, ask them questions about the color, speed, or where it's falling to to keep them watching. As they get better using bean bags and balls is an option. Once they can track the heavier objects as they fall, asking them to watch an object thats tossed becomes easier when teaching them to catch. Also you can take a rope and shake it, ask the kids to jump on it to 'catch' it. This helps with tracking and jumping/landing on two feet.

Jump rope: Have the kids hold the rope behind them, swing it over their heads, look at it on the floor, then jump over. Repeat in this 3 step process until they start doing it faster on their own.

That's all I have time to write atm, if I think of more I'll include it!


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