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Be Your Child’s Cheerleader!

Why it’s sometimes best to bite your tongue and shake those pom-poms!

It’s Tuesday. Your child’s favorite day of the week because it’s GYMNASTICS DAY! Your child loves gymnastics! He loves his teacher. She loves her friends in class. They love learning new skills. That is great! But, you go every week and watch class. You can see how much fun your child is having. You watch your child roll on the floor laughing with her friends. You watch him play “thumb-war” with another boy in class. They aren’t listening. The teacher keeps calling their name. It is hard to watch. You just want to yell at your child to behave and listen!

Maybe your child is quiet and well behaved. She stands quietly in line following directions and tries really hard. All you see are bent legs on that cartwheel. His somersault is more like a log roll, and the teacher only corrects them one once in a while. You are thinking, the teacher is not watching, they must not see how my child is doing it incorrectly. I need to step in and give instructions from the sideline. “Get your legs straight!” “Point your toes!” After all, you are just helping the teacher, right?

While it may be hard to watch, and it might seem like the teacher is not doing their job, it may actually be a sign that the instructor is doing a great job. A gymnastics teacher has a lot to do. Of course, they teach gymnastics, but they also do a lot more. For the little kids, ages 2-5, gymnastics class may be the first time a child ever has to wait their turn or stand in line. They learn how to follow directions and listen to someone other than a parent. It is the instructors job to teach all these things while also teaching gymnastics skills.

For older kids, a big part of gymnastics is keeping it fun and positive while teaching skills. Most teachers see that the child is doing a skill incorrectly or not having straight legs. But, if the teacher criticized every move a child made or yelled corrections every single time a kid tried something, how much fun would that be? It is important for a teacher to teach and then let the child attempt a skill a few times before giving more critique. They are learning coordination and body control.

When a parent “coaches” from the sideline, it typically does a number of things, none of which are helpful.

  1. It embarrasses the child
  2. It disrupts the class
  3. It tells the child that you know more than the teacher and she should just listen to you
  4. It takes the fun out of learning

The list goes on and on. Not to say that you might have some helpful tips, but these may be best given after class or even right before next week’s class. Part of the teacher’s job is teaching the children that they are in control of the class.

If you have a real concern that the instructor is not doing a good job, that your child is not learning anything, or there are safety issues, bring it to the attention of the front desk. There may be a simple explanation, or they may take your concerns to management and address the situation.

If it seems like your child is not progressing, maybe try not watching class for a few weeks. When you return to watch a class, you may be pleasantly surprised at how much your child is actually progressing. It’s sometimes hard to see if you are always there. This is not to say don’t be involved, but sometimes the best way a parent can be supportive is to bite their tongue and cheer!

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