If you’re new to teaching children gymnastics, you may be surprised at the skill set you need — in addition to your gymnastics prowess, of course! In addition to offering quality instruction, you’ll need to take steps to retain an atmosphere of order and positive but firm control. Otherwise, your students won’t be able to hear your instruction and may become injured as well. While maintaining order might be most difficult with beginning gymnasts, these tips can be implemented with any age group.
We all know that we lead, first and foremost, by example. Part of being a teacher involves what you do outside the gym. Feel free to demonstrate handstands or other gymnastics moves. Perhaps you can show them a video of you when you were younger or talk about the healthy habits you incorporate outside the gym. Not only will doing so provide added motivation, but it will also help earn you your students’ respect and ensure that they listen to your instruction.
Along with being a positive role model, you can also contribute to a positive environment with verbal praise of your students. Not only can your words help motivate them to keep giving their best, but you’ll also positively impact their overall self-esteem! Of course, encouragement can take other forms as well, such as sticker charts and periodic awards for achieving certain plateaus.
Don’t worry — this part doesn’t have to be the polar opposite of the positive reinforcement you’re already giving. In fact, positive pro-active discipline can be an extension of the encouraging words you’re already doling out. It’s really all about wording. Instead of focusing on what your students shouldn’t be doing, simply word your instructions in a way that focuses on the positive, the thing you want them to do. It’s really quite amazing how a simple rephrasing can make the difference.
You do need to have clearly stated expectations along with already-determined consequences for noncompliance. Whether it starts with sitting in a tape square on the mat or tracking their misbehavior on a chart, the important part is to be consistent and make sure to follow through with all your students when they fail to comply. If students know that they’ll get a note sent to a parent or be required to have a parent present after a certain number of infractions, they’ll probably be a bit more motivated to stay in line. (With Jackrabbit gym management software, tracking student attendance, behavior, and achievements is simple, as is communicating with parents after class.)
Always keep in mind that gymnastics time is fun, and it’s okay to be a little silly, sometimes! You don’t want to overdo the discipline and come across like a drill sergeant.