5 Ways Preschool Improves Social Skills

While placing your child in preschool is a great way to help build their social skills, even in a highly social environment, these skills need to be approached purposefully with kids. As much as we treasure our little ones, we all know leaving them to their own devices (i.e. chocolate covered fingers and red faced tantrums) is not the way to go! When you choose the right preschool, it fosters social growth and development in some really important ways. Here are five ways preschool can improve your child’s social skills.

 

Communication

Constructive communication is one of the most crucial skills for kids to master. In fact, it can be one of the toughest! Effective teachers prompt kids to use their words and to ask for help constructively. By attentively recognizing a child’s needs, teachers can help kids come up with the right words to say and productively express themselves. Another great communication tool our teachers use, is expressing compassion to others – prompting students to help each other, ask if a friend needs a teacher, or even little things like getting a friend a band aid are fantastic ways for kids to communicate.

 

Interactive Play

There’s a lot more going on in a three legged race than simple team work. For example, kids learn the value of cheering on their friends, even if it means not winning. Teachers can encourage clapping and applauding for a friend’s success. Even better than prompting encouragement, kids can learn how to lose graciously. The skill of losing well is rare and that’s why it’s so important to have teachers who know how to instill it. Also, through a shared experience of either winning or losing, kids can create lasting bonds with one another.

 

Understanding Emotions    

Kids are pretty good at knowing when they feel sad, but what about noticing a friend who’s a little blue? Through focused games, kids can learn to spot emotions on their friends’ faces. One child can try showing a mad face and their friend can try and guess what they’re feeling. Learning to recognize others’ emotions in this way, through body language and facial expressions, will put your child miles ahead in social skills. Kids can even learn to express themselves creatively through fun games and free play!

 

Talking About Your Day

At the end of a long day, it can be hard for kids to articulate everything they experienced. End of the day discussions in class helps kids learn how to talk about their days. This skill is especially important to parents who want to hear about their child’s experience at school. Our teachers like to go around in a circle and ask kids their favorite part of the day and what they learned – prompting when necessary. Afterwards, kids are able to go home and easily share all the fun stuff in their day!

 

Following Instructions

Learning to follow instructions can be fun! Whether it’s a craft, game, or assignment kids get to practice their listening skills in class. Simple step by step instructions can develop a child’s ability to put their listening skills to practical use and follow directions. Games like Follow the Leader and Mother May I, allow kids to put on their listening ears in a digestible way. When kids are given the chance to be the leader, it also gets them comfortable expressing their ideas to a group. A healthy combination of listening and leadership skills promotes discipline as well as confidence.

 

All in all, preschool is a great way to instill crucial social skills in your child. But remember, the right program is key! You want to make sure to choose a program that approaches social skills deliberately and leaves nothing to chance. As always, fun activities should be at the core of your child’s learning experience. Contact us if you’d like to learn more or have any questions about our preschool program.


Healthy Snacks to Fuel Your Little Gymnast

When your budding gymnast is enrolled in classes and enjoying every moment, you’re likely looking for a way to keep their energy levels high. And there’s possibly no better way to support your kid’s health than by giving them proper nutrition at the right time. If you can teach your child about healthy snacks that can fuel their health and equip their bodies for activity, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits. Here’s what you need to know to help them flourish.

 

Before: Keep it Light

 

Whether your little one has gymnastics practice that day or not, it’s important they get in the habit of eating a robust, healthy breakfast with protein, good fats and complex carbs. This will fuel their brains and bodies for the entire day and set them off to a good start.

 

In the hour or so prior to class, offer a snack kids will love that is also light and easy to digest. Something like an apple and peanut (or almond) butter is a great way to get healthy fats, protein and fruit carbs into your little gymnast’s body so they can have the fuel they need to leap and bend.

 

During: Keep it Simple

 

When it comes to sports nutrition for kids, the most important thing is that they’re staying hydrated throughout their workout. Give them plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks or snacks. If they absolutely need a snack during practice, offer simple carbs like dried mango or healthy granola made with minimal sugar.

 

After: Keep it Well-Rounded

 

When your child is done with class, it’s the perfect time to give them ample healthy snacks to help rebuild their muscles (and soothe growling tummies). Some of the best options include smoothies made with fresh fruit and almond or coconut milk, banana slices and nut/seed butter, rice cakes, avocado on whole grain bread, plain yogurt with fruit, or trail mix (look out for added sugar). The goal is to get as many nutrients and healthy fats, proteins and complex carbs into your kid’s body post-workout as possible. And, of course, always more water!

 

When you pair sports nutrition for kids and gymnastics, you’re giving them the tools to be successful in their favorite activities – and life. Contact us if you’d like more information about how to prepare your child for our gymnastics programs.

 

 


Swimming Lessons for Kids: How Often Should Your Child go?

When you’re investing time, energy and money into helping your child learn how to swim, it’s only natural to want to make sure you’re doing it “right.” Are you supporting your little one enough emotionally throughout the process? Did you choose the right school, or instructor? Are you encouraging a love of – and respect for – water outside of swim class? Among all these questions is also the matter of frequency. Many parents assume that one lesson per week is enough, while others believe more is better. Here’s our perspective, filtered through our knowledge of child development and experience from seeing hundreds of kids go through our program.

 

Consistency is Number One

 

Children are creatures of habit, and find security in having things repeated (as you’ve probably noticed after hearing the word “again!” shouted with glee over and over about the same activity). When learning to swim, there’s also a strong case for repetition as it can help enforce the swim skills being taught and increase muscle memory.

 

But even above frequency on the priority list for little swimmers should be consistency. If you can commit to two or three swim classes or private sessions per week, your child’s swimming ability, comfort, progress and retention of skills are sure to be accelerated. But if you find your schedule regularly causes you to skip class (or feel overwhelmed), start with one class per week and pledge to show up every time. Then, you can add in another weekly class and make the same pledge. This will help your child have the consistency they need, and hopefully lead into multiple classes per week for ultimate swimming mastery.

 

Swim Year Round

 

There’s a misconception out there about an optimal swim class “season.” We’ve heard parents say that they only bring their kids in the spring and summer, since it’s too cold during other times of the year. Or, we hear spring and summer is when they’ll be spending the most time around pools and water parks. But skipping a few weeks or months at a time can be really detrimental to your child learning how to swim.

 

Again, swimming lessons for kids are only truly successful when the kids are coming to classes regularly. A month or two away from class might seem like an eternity to a child, and it also can result in lost muscle memory, lost (or reduced) skills and a setback in comfort around water entirely. The beauty of taking class at an indoor swimming pool is that weather doesn’t have to have any bearing on whether or not your little ones can keep learning to swim. They can swim year round, consistently, and have a great deal to show for it.

 

Make it Personal

 

Lastly, it’s always important to remember individualization when it comes to child development. An average child will most likely flourish in swim classes or private sessions two or three times per week. But if you or your little one has a packed schedule and aren’t able to maintain that many classes, you know your child best and should always go at their pace. When they are comfortable and confident, their developmental skills will soar!

 

 

So when you think about child development and swimming lessons for kids, it’s important to remember that consistency – and frequency – go a long way. The general rule is that the more your child can attend classes, the faster they’ll progress and retain what they’re learning. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about our swim programs.


How to Keep Your Preschooler Motivated in School

Nearly all parents have been there. You wake up in the morning, and your child does not want to go to school. Maybe your little preschooler didn’t get enough sleep the night before, or maybe there’s some part of school they decided they didn’t like. But either way, this kind of mindset is sure to make the morning a challenge for both of you. Of course you want to listen to your little one and support their feelings, but you also want them to learn the value of following through on their commitments. So when it comes to motivating children in preschool, what is the best way to proceed? Here are a few ideas:

 

Pros and Cons of Motivation

 

Let’s say your child has suddenly become resistant to going to school. One of the first things you can do is try to find out if something is going on at school that’s upsetting them. Reflect what you see in their actions and what that tells you, then leave it up to them to elaborate. “I see your face getting red. You look mad about going to school!” Then wait, and see if they tell you why. Another useful thing to do is to pull aside your child’s teacher and mention the upset. Ask if there’s something new in the preschool curriculum that could have caused the behavior shift, or if something happened with the other kids at school that might be making your child uncomfortable.

 

If there’s nothing obvious happening externally that can be fixed, your child might just need some extra motivation. The novelty of school might have worn off and you may need to encourage kids with some extrinsic motivation. There are a few rules of thumb to remember when motivating your child. First, never resort to bribery. Do not use food or candy as a reward or engineer your kid’s behavior by promising something in exchange for going to school. This can set up dangerous habits and associations. A more positive approach is to reward with your words and attention. You can tell your child, “I can see that going to school is hard for you right now. School is a part of life, and I’m here to support you. I know you will get through it. You’re really brave.” Then, when you pick up your child, reinforce the same sentiment: “What a brave kid you are! You went to school and participated today. Let’s go to the park to celebrate.” This approach validates your kid’s feelings and also can help instill a solid sense of self-worth.

 

Bring School Home

 

Sometimes, it can be helpful to bring bits and pieces of the preschool curriculum home with you. This can make them more comfortable in areas that they struggle. Ask your child’s teacher if there are any parts of school that your child seems to like or dislike. If your little one is struggling with writing alphabet letters at school, you could introduce sidewalk chalk at home and work on writing letters on the sidewalk, in a fun and stress-free environment.

 

Or if your kid is drawn to play dough at school, you could further foster this creative streak by presenting them with modeling clay to try at home. And no matter what, it’s always a great idea to read with your kids at home. Reading books goes a long way in motivating children to learn, because it stimulates their imaginations and rapidly expands their vocabularies.

 

Keep the Dialogue Going

 

Whether you try rewards or bringing school activities home, the most important part of providing motivation for kids is to communicate openly. If your child is nervous about social interactions, empathize with them. Tell them about a time you struggled to feel included in a peer group, and how you got through it. Give them words they can use with their classmates, and offer to role-play a social situation. Or if your little one doesn’t want to do what the teacher asks, talk with them about why it’s important to listen to teachers and some strategies they can try to enjoy school more. Invite them to share their likes and dislikes, and don’t try to change their feelings. Simply reflect back that you hear what they’re saying, and try to be a valuable resource in helping them navigate the hard parts and celebrate the fun parts.

 

As you begin the school experience with your preschooler, remember that we all have off days. Children can especially have a hard time dealing with their emotions — so be patient. You might be surprised at how quickly the resistance passes, and how much a little intentionality and a lot of communication can change things for the better. Contact us if you’d like more tips, or to learn about our programs for preschoolers!


The Inspirational Stories of Famous Gymnasts: How They Got Started

When we see famous gymnasts on television, we see the finished product, the polished and accomplished person up on a stage under the bright lights. These individuals and their achievements are the result of hard work and training behind the scenes that we don’t get to see. And every single gymnast who has risen to the ultimate level in gymnastics and earned a spot to compete in the Olympics, has a unique story about how they got to that point. The beauty of hearing the stories behind influential female and male gymnasts is that we can see they are human beings who have had successes and setbacks just like the rest of us. This relatability can provide gymnastics inspiration for kids, just like the inspiring stories of the following gymnasts.

 

Nadia Comaneci

 

Nadia Comaneci has been a household name since she competed in the 1976 Olympics and became the first woman ever to score a perfect 10. The scoreboard at the time wasn’t even able to display a 10 (since it had never happened before), but Nadia still pulled off the feat seven times – ultimately winning three gold medals during the games. But her story starts long before this momentous Olympics.

 

In fact, Nadia discovered her passion for gymnastics at an early age and was picked out of the crowd by a gymnastics coach at the age of six. She committed to the sport and worked tirelessly to grow and improve, and she made incredible strides. Throughout her journey, however, Nadia struggled with an eating disorder and had to fight through it to get her body back to a point of health and strength. She got past this debilitating hurdle and ended up on top of the world in terms of gymnastics accomplishments. Even years later, she’s still regarded as an icon in the gymnastics world. About her success, Nadia says that “the more experienced I get, I treasure and I honor what I’ve done much more. It becomes much more important, and I appreciate it because I understand from a different view what it takes to do that.”

 

Gabby Douglas

 

Gabby Douglas had the glow of the world’s spotlight cast on her and stole many hearts when she debuted as a U.S. Olympic athlete in 2012. She became even more of a symbol of hard work and devotion, when she earned a team gold medal and became the first African American to win the Olympic gold medal, in an individual all-around event. Her impressive winning streak continued at the 2016 Olympic games when she won numerous team gold medals in the Olympic games. But the path to Gabby’s success started very young and was lined with many hardships.

 

It could be said that Gabby’s gymnastics career began at the age of three when she completed her first successful straight cartwheel. Just one year later, Gabby learned how to do a one-handed cartwheel by herself, and from there her interest was sparked. She began formal lessons and was a state champion by the age of eight. But throughout her childhood, Gabby struggled with homelessness, blood disease and an absent father. She learned to lean on her faith, draw strength from her mother and work hard in order to get past these personal difficulties. Now, Gabby inspires others by saying: “Know that no matter how much money you have, no matter what the color of your skin is, that you still can push 100 percent…don’t ever give up.”

 

Simone Biles

 

Simone Biles first became drawn to gymnastics when she was on a field trip with her day care class to a gymnastics facility. Simone imitated the other gymnasts while she was there, and the coach noticed and asked if she would join his class – and the rest is history.

 

Today, Simone is widely known as the superstar of gymnastics, hailed as the most decorated Olympic gymnast of all time. She has won a total of 19 World Championships and Olympic medals, and was the first African American woman to win the gold all-around World Championship. She was also a member of “The Final Five” at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she dominated the competition. Simone says that gymnastics helped her deal with ADHD in her early years, giving her an outlet that was like nothing else. Through dedication, day in and day out, Simone became a true champion.

 

These are just a few of the inspirational stories about successful gymnasts who started finding their passions at an early age. If you’re looking to offer gymnastics inspiration for kids, enroll them in classes to see if their passion is sparked. No matter where a child begins, there is always time to grow and succeed – and build their own inspirational story along the way. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about how gymnastics can play a large role in the development of your child’s life!


New to Gymnastics Lessons? What to Expect

Whether you think you might have a budding Olympian on your hands, or simply want to introduce your child to a new sport, gymnastics for kids will be something the whole family will love. And if you’re searching online for “gymnastics near me” or “toddler gymnastics classes near me,” look no further! We’re in the neighborhood and spend our days inspiring a love of gymnastics in children.

Once you’ve checked out our class schedule and enrolled your little gymnast, you both might be feeling a mixture of excitement and jitters. Here are a few things to keep in mind before your child hits the mat in their first gymnastics class.

 

Be Proactive

Every child has their own unique temperament. Even if your kid is fearless and endlessly outgoing, attending a first class of any kind can be intimidating. Help ease anxiety by stopping in to the gym a few days prior to the first class. Make sure you take a little time to get oriented with the layout, introduce yourself to your child’s instructor, and spend a few minutes chatting with them. Having advance knowledge of what their teacher is like and a feel for the gym, can go a long way in helping kids feel comfortable, when they come back for their first official class.

 

Understand the Setting

 If you yourself have never taken gymnastics before, and if your child is new to the sport, there might be a little learning curve as far as processes and class structure are concerned. Don’t worry — this is normal! At all gyms, but particularly those that provide gymnastics for kids like we do, there is usually a lot of hustle and bustle. You’ll see lots of different equipment and coaches and students will be using it at all different times. . The biggest thing to remember is, ask when you’re unsure. Even if it seems like there’s chaos out on the floor, there’s often a flow and order that the gymnasts are following. In order to learn quickly, and stay safe, it’s best to make sure you understand how to use the equipment, and what the order is all about, before your child jumps in . Also, a key point to remember is that your child’s safety is paramount to us. If you ever have a question about how we keep our kids safe during classes, please let us know and we’d be happy to share our safety protocols with you.

 

Prepare for Success

Finally, your little one will undoubtedly be excited to learn new skills in gymnastics class – and look the part. We recommend a leotard for class, mostly because it allows freedom of movement and doesn’t leave any clothes hanging from the body, which could cause slips or accidents. Plus, there are tons of fun gymnastics outfits to choose from! Lastly, your child will be barefoot, and it’s important to put girls’ hair up in a bun or a braid so it’s completely out of the way.

Last but not least, make a point to give your child a healthy snack before heading to the gym. Foods that are nutritious and fairly light, like an apple and almond butter or cucumber sticks and hummus, are ideal to fuel your aspiring athlete’s body and keep hunger pangs at bay. We have water fountains, but suggest you bring a water bottle too, as well as a snack for after class. Our kids work very hard and are often eager for a snack as soon as their lesson ends.

As you keep all these tips in mind, most of all we hope you and your child will get excited! This sport is all about strength, grace and athleticism, but it’s also all about fun – for you and your little one. Contact us if you have any questions or if you’d like to learn more about our gymnastics programs.

 

 


How to Find the Best Dance Class for Your Child

Whether it’s ballet, hip-hop, or jazz, dance lessons are an exciting way to incorporate more physical activity into your kids’ routine. After watching an exciting episode of So You Think You Can Dance, you may be ready to jump in the car and find the nearest dance studio for kids, but before you do, know that not all dance classes are created equal. While dance classes provide a fun physical outlet for kids, it’s important to find a class that suits your child’s unique interests, abilities, and personality.

 

Variety is Key

There are a variety of dance classes for girls and boys alike, so a class that introduces children to different types of dance is an important step in making sure your child has a positive dance experience. A beginning class that includes exposure to 2-3 disciplines will provide your child with a well-rounded foundation. Ballet classes will, for example, have a different feel and entail learning different skills than hip-hop or jazz. Another helpful idea to consider is to take your child to a recital or performance to see what dancing is all about. Doing this can also give your child a bigger picture of what they would be working toward, thereby offering an incentive to attend and do their best. Even if you have a child who is just getting around on their tiny feet, there are really fun dance classes for toddlers, like Twirly Bees and Tutsi Toes.

 

Watch and Learn

The best method for choosing a facility that offers dance lessons for kids, is to observe the class in person. You can also browse the internet or ask around in your community to find the best-rated dancing schools. Come prepared with a list of criteria to ask about and look for, such as faculty credentials, cleanliness, and safety precautions. It’s important to make sure you send your child to a clean, friendly, and trustworthy school that will focus on having fun and staying active!

 

Listen to Interests

First and foremost, initiate open communication with your child. Nobody knows what interests them better than they do, after all. Are they interested in ballet? Hip-hop? Jazz? Tap? Definitely take into account your child’s personal preferences when searching for dance classes for boys or girls. Even before that, be sure your child realizes what goes into dance lessons and that they require time and commitment.

 

Dance classes are a fun way to get your child moving, but you should make sure to choose a proper dance facility before signing up for class. Visit around to ask questions and familiarize yourself with the process. Communicate with your child about their preferences and any responsibilities they may not be aware of. Introduce them to different kinds of classes, observe classes in action to reduce anxiety, and most importantly, remember it’s fun!

 

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us, we are happy to help!