The start of a new school year is always a busy, and sometimes daunting, time for children and families. After the relaxation and freedom of the school holidays comes the task of adjusting to a new class, increased school-load and keeping up with extracurricular activities. For those who are starting prep its a whole new world of making friends and adjusting to their new life at school.
During this time, children may seem tired and it might take a few weeks for their bodies and minds to become accustomed to their new routine. Its often the same time of year that children ‘quit’ or take a break from their extracurricular activities, including gymnastics. This may have even been suggested by their teacher. However, this is the most important time for children to maintain their physical activity and involvement in sports the most. There are so many ways in which participating in organised sport, such as gymnastics, is beneficial to a child’s development. So let’s check out a few of the life skills and attributes that children learn through their time in gymnastics, or other sports.
Growth Mindset and Understanding Failure
Participating in sport is a fantastic way for children to develop a ‘growth-mindset’ and learn to deal with failure. No matter how confident or accomplished people may seem, everyone has failed at something in their lives, its how we deal with these set-backs that determines our overall success. Through sport, children learn to be comfortable with failure, and to understand that nothing is achieved without multiple attempts and hard work. Every day when coaching my Tiny Tornadoes classes I remind the gymnasts that ‘it is ok if you fall off the beam. You all know how to land safely in a motorbike shape, and then you can just climb back up.’
Mental health is something that we are all facing more and more, especially children and young adults. Self-esteem, dealing with conflict and failure, and relationship changes are some of the challenges that children face as they begin a new school year. There is no doubt that physical activity is linked to positive mental health outcomes. Participating in organised sport, such as gymnastics, leads to improvements in physical self-perceptions and enhanced self-esteem. Extra-curricular activities also provide a positive outlet and additional support network for children outside of school. Children will form strong relationships with their coaches and teammates, who they can turn to if they need help.
An Outlet Outside of Home or School
Every child needs a safe place where they can go to have fun, see their friends, let off some steam and have a sense of accomplishment. Sitting at school all day can be hard for kids, especially when starting prep, so being able to run around the gym after school is a great way to let out all their pent-up energy.
Success at School
School is a crucial part of every child’s life, and every parent wants to see their child succeed and receive a good education. One of the best ways to improve a child’s interaction with school and willingness to learn is to encourage them to maintain a high level of physical activity, particularly through organised sport. Research has shown that children who participate in sport have better cognitive function, attention spans and classroom engagement. Developing these skills at a young age gives a child the best start to their school journey.
Work Ethic and Time Management
As adults we often struggle to juggle competing commitments, be it work, children, cooking, family time, travel, and so much more. Working out how to manage multiple responsibilities is something that is learnt in childhood, and what better way to do so than learning to balance of school and sport! All sports require a degree of commitment, which encourages children to manage their time, be accountable and prioritise.
Making friends is an important part of every child’s development. Sports are a great way to meet people outside of school and develop a wider range of friendships. For children starting prep for the first time they may recognise someone in their new school from gymnastics, swimming or dance class.
There are infinite ways that gymnastics, or sports in general, can help a child’s development to become an all-rounded, confident and kind adult. We just need to give them this opportunity and watch them learn.