Early Childhood Homeschooling Made Easy

Taking teaching and your child's future into your own hands.

Toddler gymnastics and soccer

on April 19, 2013
Kayla having fun at Tumblebear Open Gym at Patti's All American in Indiana.

Kayla having fun at Tumblebear Open Gym at Patti’s All American in Indiana.

It’s amazing to me how fast this month has been going by. I’ve blinked and it is already the middle of the month. The last several weeks have been extra busy for us, and I can’t seem to find the time to keep up with my blogs…writing my own blog posts, and reading posts from other bloggers. I keep telling myself every day that I will find the time to write a post, and then I don’t. I’m disappointed with myself, but life has a way of taking over at times.

With that said, we’ve been busy doing lots of fun and exciting things, so that makes up for it. I pride myself on exposing Kayla to new experiences and activities. I think it’s important for kids to be exposed to various activities in order to be well rounded. I love taking her to the zoo, to children’s museums, to kiddie amusement parks, to different stores and restaurants, etc. I also enjoy getting her involved in a variety of classes so she has an outlet to burn energy, to learn something new, be around other kids her age, and experience something she may end up developing a passion for someday. (You know, just because I homeschool, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in socialization. I just believe in going about it in a different way.) It’s also quality mommy/daughter time since at this age (two-years-old), parents are required to participate in most activities.

Over the last couple of weeks, Kayla has started taking a gymnastics class at a local gymnastics gym, and taking soccer through a local park district. We’ve also attended two open gyms at other gymnastics gyms (besides the one where she is taking a class). It feels like for the past two weeks, I’ve been driving around all over the place taking her to different activities at different places. It’s fun, but it takes its toll.

I’ve been thinking about signing her up for a gymnastics class for awhile now. She’s extremely coordinated for her age, she’s bursting with energy, and she’s a bit of a daredevil. Gymnastics seems perfect for her. A friend from high school recommended a gym (Gym-Kinetics) to me last year, and I did a lot of research before signing her up for a gymnastics class. I wanted to make sure I picked a good gym with great coaches that work well with children. To my delight, she loves it. It seems to be a perfect fit for her. She bounces around like a bunny the whole time, full of energy. By the end of class, I’m a little tired myself. Who knew spotting a toddler and following her around a gym could be so much work? Kayla seems to get more hyper from being in class, and I’m ready to take a nap afterwards. Go figure. The gymnastics coach is young, playful, and the kids seem to adore her. So far, I am happy with how the class flows, and I can already see Kayla learning new things. I do worry a little bit about safety, but they have the place pretty well padded with all types of tumbling mats. I think toddler gymnastics is a great idea for parents looking to get their kids out of the house and doing something active. Plus, it gives kids their first glimpse into the world of gymnastics. Kayla loves watching the older kids do flips. She watches them in awe. Only time will tell if Kayla has any skill as far as this sport goes, but for now it’s all for fun. Having fun is the most important part anyway.

Gymnastics class at Gym-Kinetics in Illinois.

Gymnastics class at Gym-Kinetics in Illinois.

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I was thrilled when I found a soccer class for young children a few weeks back. One of our local park districts offers Mini Kickers Soccer for kids 5 and under. The class is taught by a British company that works with the park district. I thought for sure Kayla would enjoy this class because she absolutely loves kicking balls and running around. The week leading up to our first class, we practiced kicking the ball everyday and she got pretty good at it considering her age. Kayla would ask me every single day if we could practice. The day of our first class, she woke up excited about going. Once we got there, it was another story. She was a bit overwhelmed by the size of the class. The way the class works is they eventually divide the kids up by age, or at least that’s what the description of the class says. They are supposed to put the 2 and 3-year-olds in one group, and the 4 and 5-year-olds in another group. When we arrived at our first class, there were about 15 kids running around a big gym kicking balls with 4 coaches hanging around. As we walked farther into the gym, we saw all the parents/caregivers, remaining kids in the class, and younger siblings sitting in the bleachers. There was a massive amount of people there for this one little 45 minute class. Kayla was looking around at all of the people and her enthusiasm seemed to slip away. We sat down on the bleachers for a few minutes so she could observe her surroundings before class started. I encouraged her to go and kick a ball around with the other kids. She didn’t want to venture too far away from me. Once class started, she got excited again and did really well for about 30 minutes. After that, her attention seemed to start slipping away and she seemed to be overwhelmed by the amount of people moving around in the gym. I will admit it was a bit chaotic, and I hope the coaches are able to rein things in a bit in the future.

Observing the other kids when we first arrived for soccer class.

Observing the other kids when we first arrived for soccer class.

The soccer class was the biggest class we’ve taken so far. Most of the classes we’ve taken, and the storytimes we’ve attended, have had 10 kids or less, plus one parent for each kid. This soccer class had about 20-25 kids, plus some kids had two parents with them and younger siblings. I can see how a toddler would have a hard time adjusting to this type of class size. She also seemed confused by the fact that there were four coaches. She didn’t seem to understand who she was supposed to be looking to for directions. I think she’ll do fine once she gets used to it. Once the first class was over, she was ready to leave. Usually I have to practically drag her out of a place after class is over. This was a new experience having her grabbing my hand and leading me toward the door. The fact that she still wants to practice kicking the ball at home gives me hope that she’ll still want to go back each week.

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On days when we don’t have anything else going on, I’ve been taking Kayla to open gyms. Some of the local gymnastics gyms have open gym once a week where members and non-members can come in to use their equipment in a supervised environment. Some of the open gyms are for all ages up to 18-years-old, and others are only for younger kids. The first open gym we went to was at a very nice gym, but it was crowded with older kids. We didn’t have any issues with the older kids. They mostly kept to themselves and were considerate. From watching them, I would say most of them were students at the gym, and they seemed very focused on what they were doing. The majority of them seemed to be there to practice and have fun with their friends. With all the older kids around though, I had to watch Kayla very closely to make sure she didn’t get in anyone’s way or get hurt. Most of the equipment was geared toward older kids, so Kayla was limited on what she could use. Not to mention, she doesn’t have much patience for waiting her turn. The open gym was on a Sunday, so there were a lot more people there than if it would have been during the week. I would recommend to this particular gym that they do a separate open gym for younger kids.

Walking around at the open gym at United Gymnastics Academy in Illinois.

Walking around at the open gym at United Gymnastics Academy in Illinois.

Inflatable at open gym

Inflatable at open gym

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The second open gym we went to was on a Wednesday afternoon and it was only for kids 6-years-old and under. All of the equipment they had set up was for younger kids. They had a very friendly coach in there supervising. Kayla seemed to like the coach right away. It was a welcoming and caring environment. I was surprised by how much I liked this open gym compared to the first one we attended. This particular gym is known for being a gym that focuses on classes and development for young kids. The decor is kid friendly, the staff is inviting, and they have a wide variety of unique classes offered there. I’ve been considering signing Kayla up for a few classes there, but was hesitant about doing it without seeing the place in person. If I’m going to drive 25 minutes or so to take Kayla to a class, it better be worth my time and money. This place would definitely be worth it. It’s a wonderful environment for kids.

Tumblebear open gym at Patti's All American in Indiana.

Tumblebear open gym at Patti’s All American in Indiana.

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I don’t want to fill up our schedule too much, but I am glad that Spring is here and we’re finally getting out of the house again to have some fun. I no longer have to worry about cold and flu season. (We got sick 4 times in 3 months at the end of 2012. Whatever Kayla gets, mommy gets too.) It’s so nice to get back to doing some activities outside of the house besides shopping and going out to eat. And Kayla loves being able to see other kids. She lights up when she sees all the other kids running around. She sees one of her cousins a few times a week, but there is nothing like seeing a bunch of other kids her own age. I can’t wait until all the June dance recitals are over so that I can get her back into a dance class. That was a class we could both enjoy. Until then, gymnastics and soccer will keep us very busy.

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