We all know that instructing young children in gymnastics takes more than gymnastics expertise – it also requires patience and some kid-whispering skills! If you’re looking for ways to keep kids calm and orderly enough to receive instruction so they can have fun tumbling, check out these simple but extremely helpful dos and don’ts:
Do Be Prepared with a Printed Lesson Plan
If you have a clearly laid out plan for each class time, you and your enthusiastic beginning gymnasts will benefit in many ways. First, you’ll clearly communicate the fact that you’re in charge by appearing credible and well-organized. Second, since you’ll be well-prepared, you’ll be ready to move to the next activity quickly and easily, eliminating extra down time during transitions that can easily lead to chaos. Of course, you need to temper preparedness with realistic expectations; the individuals in your class might require extra time on some activities than you’d originally planned.
Do Begin with a Routine Warm-up Set
Mixing it up can be fun, but starting class with a predictable routine sets the tone for a well-ordered class. Instead of using your voice to squelch play and conversation, after the first week or two, you should be easily able to communicate that class time has begun by starting your routine warmup activities. An added benefit is that students will memorize the exercises in your warmup routine, helping them mentally and physically prepare for new instruction. For those that struggle with anxiety, this kind of predictable start also offers a sense of stability that can make them feel secure and more open to learning something new.
Do Mimic Some Academic Classroom Techniques
One helpful method many school teachers use to retain order in their classrooms is to keep students in a line or particular formation during instructional time. You may not have a classroom or desks, but you can ask students to stand or sit in a specific space while you demonstrate and explain something new.
Another classroom management technique you’ll want to master is to vary the volume, pitch, and speed of your voice while giving explanations and instructions. Always use a positive tone, but be willing to otherwise change it up in order to get and keep attention. Changing your tone to lower, more staccato rhythms when correction is needed will allow you to send the message without resorting to yelling.
A third classroom teacher trick you may find helpful is to periodically check for comprehension during instruction. You can make this process more fun and less formal by saying something like, “If you heard me, touch your nose.” Those who weren’t listening will no doubt feel left out, and you can then ask one of your good listeners to explain the instruction to the rest of the class, using their own words.