Parents Guide To Choosing A Gymnastics School
All gyms are not the same. In fact the philosophy of gyms can be as different as night and day. Choosing a gymnastics school, like most decisions made for our children, can be very confusing and stressful. If it’s your child’s first exposure to the sport you want it to be fun and safe. As your child’s interest and ability grows you want a gym that will encourage and inspire, not yell and judge. As they spend more time in the gym it becomes a second home. Should your child choose to grow in the sport you want a gym that is capable of coaching more advance skills.
A quality school is a product of warm, caring human relationships and promotes constructive attitudes. Quality can always be improved upon and a quality organization is one that is alert for ways to improve what it does and how it does it. A quality school is one in which everyone in the organization, working both separately and together, seeks a common goal.
Think about why you want to put your child into a gymnastics class. To build muscle tone, coordination, balance, strength and flexibility? Self-esteem and confidence? Do you want them to learn the sport? Do you want your child to burn off energy and have playtime and social interaction with other children?
All these are great reasons. It is important to match the gym and class with your child’s personality and goals. Regardless of the reasons the gym should be a comfortable place that encourages physical activity with a focus on fun, safety, and personal progress.
When you are looking for a gym there are a few things to keep in mind.
Whether your child is just beginning to enjoy gymnastics or has been working on improving their skills for a number of years, capable and caring coaches are essential. It is important that your child’s instructors take the time to teach kids to warm up and stretch muscles properly to avoid injury and to focus on overall conditioning rather than just mastering gymnastic moves. A good coach will also find the right balance between challenging the kids to strive for improvement while keeping the focus on fun. Every child should be and teachers should care about every student regardless of their potential.
Coaches and staff should be approachable for comments, questions, and concerns. They should be knowledgeable and caring. Do the instructors teach children morals, values, character, health, fitness and good work ethics?
Coaches should be up to date on the latest safety and spotting techniques, as well as new skills. USAG, the United States Association of Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States, offers a specific safety certification. Additionally coaches can be CPR/First Aid certified, KAT certified (Kinder Accreditation for Teachers) and/or MELPD certified (Movement Education and Lesson Plan Development).
Training tools are very important for gymnasts. Not only do training tools allow the gymnasts to get the correct feel for the skill they are working on but training tools also make it much safer for the gymnast allowing them to take fewer falls without getting hurt. Once they get the hang of a new skill with training equipment, they will be ready to perfect it without these tools.
Do they have all the equipment and extra training equipment for the gymnasts to use? Does the gymnastics center have a pit, tumble track, trampoline, strap bar, harness, etc.? Is this gymnastics facility set up where you can use these training tools to the fullest?
If a gymnastics class has fewer students in it each child will receive more personalized attention, learn more and have more fun. With younger students it is easier for a teacher to maintain control over the class and make sure each student understands the concepts and instructions. A smaller class size also allows our teachers to ensure that students are not developing bad habits or improper technique. A gymnast-instructor ratio that seems appropriate (there is no magic number, but the children should look as though they are being monitored at all times by an instructor) Does the gym observe the teaching ratios set forth by USA Gymnastics?
Trial Classes and Visits
All gyms should encourage walk-in visits and allow you to schedule a trial class. Check out our Trail policy
When you visit take a look around. Do you see happy looking gymnasts enjoying themselves and the sport? Does it seem as if there is adequate padding (mats) throughout the gym? Are there signs up describing safety procedures and rules? Is there a waiting room where you can see your child during his/her class? Is it a well-lit, clean facility?How does the gym sound during class, happy or stressful?Are the children busy or sitting still?
Watch how the instructors interact with the children. Are they enthusiastic? Do they get and keep the kids motivated? Do they give a positive with a negative – “GREAT JOB, now next time let’s try to keep our legs straight!” Are skills broken down into achievable parts and taught in a progressive, step by step, manner? Are instructors spotting (helping) the children?Is discipline appropriate?
There are so many things to think about. How are customers treated? How close is the school to your house? How long has the school existed? Is the cost of the activity reasonable? Is the program structured and presented in an age appropriate manner?Is there a sense of professionalism about the school? Is there communication between the school, students and the parents i.e. newsletters calendar of events, web page? What is the make-up policy? Drop policy? What’s the reputation of the gymnastics school in the community? Check out our FAQ
After you’ve gotten all the answers it’s time to ask the most important question. Is your child happy, safe and having fun? Is the gym a good fit, for you and your child?