Across Australia, BK’s Gymnastics programs are seeing a huge increases in Kindergym enrolments – programs designed for under five-year-olds – with up to 198% increase at some centres. Reports are showing that parents are seeking out activities that will close the noticeable gaps they are observing in physical and social skills and confidence due to the lockdowns of the past few years.
What happened during lockdowns?
Lockdowns have had a huge impact on the developmental milestones of early years children, having not had access to their regular activities. During lockdowns, children under five years of age missed out on a great deal of social interaction and essential active play, with limited outdoor time and no preschool or play group. Many children also suffered a lack of emotional and cognitive stimulation, particularly those who do not have siblings to play and interact with. Research continues to prove that young children require structured and unstructured play-based learning to develop their movement skills such as balance and coordination, as well as instructional learning and cognitive development to help them understand the world around them. Being at home, often on devices while parents worked, means many kids missed out on the time to explore and learn these fundamental skills.
What might parents be observing now?
Many children are now showing high levels of anxiety when needing to be away from the security of a parent/guardian. They also demonstrate greater fear when trying new skills as they are yet to develop safe risk analysis, and many parents are reporting a lack of coordination, balance and movement skills in their children during the course of their play.
What can parents do to help?
The good news is, there are numerous ways parents can help get kids back on track. Parents can support their children with developing these skills by getting them active. Take them to the park, encourage them to walk on straight lines such as the groove in the footpath or perhaps a white line at the local basketball court to build coordination and balance. Throw and catch a ball, swing from monkey bars, practice tumbles and cartwheels on the grass. Variety in movement will help develop a greater brain/body connection, important muscle groups and assist with overall physical literacy in preparation for healthy growth and development.
Sports are great!
Supporting children to start a new sport is a powerful way to make an impact. Team sports and group activities are particularly useful as they also tick that social interaction box. An activity like gymnastics, for example, allows children to learn essential physical skills such as coordination, balance, strength and flexibility but also important social skills like taking turns, listening and waiting all in a fun and engaging environment.
Whatever activities you do engage in, be patient. All children will progress at a different rate and the initial introduction to new activities takes time. Ensure you’re working with coaches and professionals who can give your child the support and attention they need.