Our youngest Delta members are our little Explorers! In this class our 18month – 2.5 year olds take over the gym, helper in tow and explore movement in a fun, play based environment. But sometimes as we know, guiding a toddler can be tricky! So here are our tips for getting the most from your Jnr Gym Kids Explorer Class!
We’re Here! It’s gymnastics day! Let’s get started!
• Water bottles in the pink Explorers buckets & shoes off please!
• Bare feet are best for good sensory feedback and more grip at gymnastics!
Hydration – Healthy habits start young. Teaching your kids to sip water regularly is not just good for body hydration, it also supports brain function, learning, clearer thinking & mood. Children can be irritable, tired, less able to concentrate and just don’t operate at their best when their brain and body are not adequately watered.
The ‘drink time’ can be a great pause moment when we’re huffed & puffed or possibly a bit upset/frustrated or when something is not quite going their way. Taking a quick drink can often ‘re set’ their state and ask ‘where to now’? It also gives our coaches a moment to show and model some purposeful playful activities – building those listening muscles just for a moment. Our littlies are very motor sensory movers but do take in a good ‘show’!
Let’s Start with Group/Together Time!
We know toddlers are wired to move & not sit still! We also strongly believe our Explorer class is a chance for some brief, directed learning (with the support of their helpers!) Our warm up together time, needs lots of engagement from our helpers to support our energetic children, so join in the play & have fun!
- A great time to introduce concepts & playfully practice together in a circle
- Children learn to follow instructions in a group and and to practice those social skills – even if it’s lots of observing
- Kick your shoes off and be involved! Watch their eyes light up as they see you playing along
- Sit shy or wandering Explorers between your legs or on your lap during group time
- Whisper in their ear & point to the coach… “it’s time to watch Miss Julie now, play time soon”
- Praise them for great watching & listening! Give them a big clap & cheer for any joining in!
- Guide wanderers back into the circle (try distracting them with a silly giggle)
Toddlers sometimes lose it! We have all been there & completely understand (please don’t be embarrassed)!
Acknowledge this is not where they want to be right now
- Give them some perspective
- Scoop them up gently & take them away from the group & equipment
Help change their grizzly state with a quick drink of water & a distraction point
Take the moment to step back and show them the circle of together time
- Let them know that’s where the kids are now & play is soon
- Distract & acknowledge – we’re going on the tramp or beams very soon
Try & re-join the circle – the coach is constantly changing the activities and props!
However… we ask you don’t allow children to go and play on the equipment (even if it is to the side). It is amazing how quickly Explorers build their stay & pay attention muscle, little by little, when they know this is my option for now. (We need to support the other children in class, who can be easily distracted too!)
Clean Up Song!
Our clean up song is a fun way to practice helping and set up a routine for our Explorers.
Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere.
Clean up clean up, everybody do their share…
Toot Toot…Off we go!
In our Explorers class, we visit and explore different areas of the gym. When it’s time we follow our coach ‘train style’ around the gym. Our little ones can get very engaged in their playful ‘work’ and a little cue to help them stop and move on & transition from one activity to the next is our ‘TOOT TOOT’ train noise. Making our Delta Gym Kids train sound helps Explorers connect to moving on. This is also a fun way to start introducing the train lining up for later more independent gymnastics classes.
Listen out for the coach’s call and encourage the children to notice the change. “Can you hear the train? Miss Amanda says it’s time to go… toot toot”. Our train arms are also a fantastic way to sneak in some cross patterning work while we are having fun or scoop them up and chug chug bounce along letting them explore the motion through you. Great time for a moving cuddle!
Exploring Time – Out on the Equipment!
Play is the best form of learning! Play is a toddlers work and playing with them is the best way to teach & direct our Explorers.
When your Explorer is on the equipment, close by, a hands reach away is a great approach (except of course when giving lots of hugs, tickles and Hi-5’s!). Allowing Explorers to climb up on to the equipment themselves gives them a safer & confident feeling that they’ve gone as high as they can manage on their own. If your toddler is not quite ready to go alone but is willing to try, rather than holding their hand, try placing your steady hands on their back, hips or elbows. This is a great support for our little ones and leaves their hands and arms free to work through the ‘how to do it myself’ & you can then release slowly as they gain more confidence!
One More Time
Toddlers often fixate on one activity! This is how our brain learns, repeating over & over and your Explorer may be thriving in their accomplishment and success at the activity. This sense of achievement is very important in their development of self-efficacy. It may seem tedious but it won’t last. They will move on soon enough!
Try to transfer the fun of the activity they are stuck on to another activity. E.g. take the ball they love to throw at the target over & over, roll it down the slope and encourage them to roll after it!
Bubbles & Balloons
Bubbles and balloons give our Explorers a chance to get moving in a focused, yet less structured way. Coming together on the floor is a great opportunity for social development, as children watch each other & prepare for group time. We have lots of fun activities with balloons, scarves, tossing and catching in our Explorers Program.
We are switching on our visual focus & balance! Our Toddlers vision is still developing (tracking, depth perception, short & long focus). Like all of their muscles, little eyes need lots of practice with slow, moving objects!
- Clap the bubble – the motion is the same bilateral action to catch a ball
- Poke a bubble with different fingers – great isolation fine motor work
- Crocodile snap their two hands or fore finger and thumb – lots of coordination challenges
- Toss & bat your balloons in front of you for easy tracking and hand-eye coordination
- Float from above! Catching isn’t always the aim; let your Explorer take a moment to integrate their balance & visual sense
- Kicking down low lets us practice balancing on one foot!
- Swatting with both hands & feet gives both sides of the brain a wake up!
It’s Time to Say Goodbye
We will finish our Explorers class with a fun cool down, bubbles, stamps and our Jnr Gym Kids goodbye song!
It’s time to say goodbye. It’s time to say goodbye
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
It’s time to say Goodbye…..GOOD BYE!!!!
A bottle of water is a great way to finish class – our Explorers will certainly be in need of some rehydration! A Thank you to their coach & a wave or Hi 5 good bye is a chance to practice the simple but important social development skill of acknowledgement & a great way to finish an Explorer class!