Preschool gymnastics classes introduce fundamental body movements and skills. They should also offer broader child development benefits, instilling coordination, spatial awareness, self-confidence, positive self-image, social skills, listening skills, concentration, memory, creativity and self-expression. Classes should stress playfulness, experimentation and exploration while maintaining an upbeat and fun atmosphere. Warm-up routines should prepare the children for that day's lesson and reinforce the broader goals for the program.
Playing Warm-up Games
By leading the group through fun games, an instructor can prepare the children for class by warming up their muscles and teaching them to follow direction. For instance, youngsters can pretend they are beans and make different body shapes on command from the instructor. The "baked bean" is a tucked position on the mat. "Jumping beans" jump up and down in place. "Beans on toast" is a position that requires them to sprawl onto the floor in a star shape. The "chilly bean" position has them standing up, rubbing their arms and shoulders like they are cold. The "jelly bean" has them wave their limp arms like they are made of jelly.
Reinforcing Basic Gymnastic Positions
Warm-ups can also be used to reinforce the basic gymnastic body positions, while also improving listening skills and concentration. Spread floor markers or smaller mats around a large gym mat. Have one gymnast sit at each spot. When you call out out a basic gymnastic position or skill -- tuck, pike, straddle, lunge and so forth -- each gymnast must assume that position as quickly as possible.
Teaching Proper Stretching
Children must learn to stretch properly for gymnastics class. Instructors should work with them in small groups, demonstrating the proper stretches and making sure each child is following that lead with correct technique. Instructors can make stretches fun by adding some fun touches like having the children tickle their toes during their sitting pike position stretches.
Training Gymnastics Movements
As the students become more advanced with their training, warm-up sessions can expand to include more challenging body movements like trampoline bouncing, standing broad jumps, high-knee jogging, crab crawls, one-legged hops, leg raises and forward and back rolls. Such drills develop skills and teach youngsters to stay focused and work within a group. Training should remain general because preschool children will struggle to refine specific skills until they achieve the right level of motor development.