It is not all that long ago that I was a child (really it isn’t). Around school, I spent my time playing in our large yard or at the park across the road, on top of that I was active in 3 different sports. My sister walked me to school as a young girl and when I was big enough I walked on my own, or with friends.
In a couple of decades things have really changed!
We now have time-poor parents with a reliance on cars. Population density causing people to live in smaller houses without yards, and fewer parks. We have parents concerned for their child’s safety, and the big one, digital technology.
According to VicHealth the walk or bike ride to school is now enjoyed by as few as one in four children. Around 80 percent don’t get the recommended hour of exercise every day, a figure that rises to 92 percent for high school students aged between 12 and 17. And the Federal Department of Health observes that one-quarter of young people are overweight or obese.
This major issue, if it wasn’t already a growing concern for policymakers, has had a major spotlight shone on it since COVID. So many kids have been locked inside their houses for days, weeks, and months on end.
Currently one of the biggest concerns for Australian kids is that over 40% of children finish grade 4 without the confidence to engage in sport or regular physical activity (UNSW2008).
This means that by the time our kids are a mere 9 years old they will be dropping out of sport or refusing to try a new sport because of a lack of confidence in their bodies. WOW!
One thing that hasn’t changed across the decades is how our bodies work. Everything works better when we move each day. Our minds are sharper, our emotions are more stable, and obviously, our bodies are in better condition. We were not made to sit on our bottoms all day and it is having consequences.
If we can get young children into the habit of physical activity and educate them why it is so important for them to move their bodies. They are more likely to keep these habits into adulthood, and have the confidence to join sporting groups later in life.
One thing you might not know about gymnastics is that it enhances physical self-concept in all Victorian primary age year groups at a faster rate than schools’ standard PE curriculum (Rudd, 2016).
Obviously, I am a little biased, well a lot biased, but gymnastics truly does give children the foundation skills for any sport or physical activity that a child wanted to try their hand at. What other sport can teach you to run, jump, climb, swing, balance, roll, be happy upside down, cross the midline, improve flexibility and mobility? These are just some of the physical benefits to be gained. Mentally, children can learn perseverance, grit, conquering fears, body confidence, making friends, working in groups, listening skills, improved memory and pride in their achievements. What a fabulous sport!!
In the end, it doesn’t matter what activity you and your child choose, what is important is that you get out and do something and do it early. Move your body, improve your skills, and have heaps of fun!!