Today, Caroline attended her very first day of gymnastics class! I was looking for something to enroll her in for the summer months. Since her Mother’s Day Out program is only during the school year, I wanted her in a regular social setting throughout the summer as well. I looked at swimming lessons, classes at the rec center, and even classes at places like My Gym. Nothing was really appealing to me or exactly what we wanted. She’s young (1.5 years old), so I didn’t want anything too serious or too focused. At the same time, I wasn’t just looking for an expensive playdate! I wanted some structure so she could practice not only how to interact with other adults and children, but also things like waiting your turn, staying with the group, and following basic instructions. When a fellow mom gave me the idea of doing a gymnastics class, I was immediately intrigued and started doing some research.
We found a program that was more affordable than all of the above listed options, so that made me super happy to begin with. I also really liked the idea of it being pretty action filled and movement oriented, as I think that is great for this age. The class I found is a Mommy and Me class for walkers up to 3 years. I also loved the age range. I knew Caroline would be on the young end of this, so she’d get to watch older children doing the tasks, and listening to the instructor, etc. We went to an open house that the gym had last weekend. Caroline got to try out everything (balance beams, trampolines, foam pit, obstacle courses, and more)! She had a blast! I signed her up for a class immediately!
Her first class went very well! There are 4 children in the class. I think the other three children are all 2.5/3 years of age. She was definitely the young one! She remembered where we were immediately and was thrilled to be there. 3 of us had gotten there a bit early, so we sat in the waiting area. Our children interacted with one another and the moms were very hands on, which (as you all know by now) I LOVE!
Our class got called back, and we went into the gym. They started by having scarves to play with and
doing some stretches. Well that was apparently not going to work for Caroline. Caroline wanted to head straight for the trampoline. Needless to say we were off to a rough start. The other moms and children were all following instructions. My little girl was trying to run away from me, and when I’d redirect her and try to get her excited about the current task, she’d throw a fit and start tantruming. I felt a bit unnerved and was really hoping the whole class wasn’t going to go like this. I even felt a bit embarrassed as all of the other moms had their (older) children under control. This is obviously a normal reaction for her age, so I know that it will just have to be something we work on (one of the many reasons we are doing this class anyway)!
Then, it was time for the obstacle course. Caroline had loved this during the open house, so I was really hoping she’d get involved at this point. Nope. She still had her eyes fixed on that trampoline. Nothing I said was getting her to realize that she’d get to do it eventually. And nothing was getting her excited about what we were currently doing. Finally, when we got to the balance beam portion of the obstacle course, Caroline decided to participate. She walked on the balance beam, and climbed over and up a ladder. Then she found toys against the wall and was completely distracted again. There are LOTS of distractions in this place! LOL Just when I had her back and participating, we were moving on to the next station- the trampoline!
Caroline was beyond thrilled. The trampoline is one way, and one person at a time. During the open house, I pretty much had her understanding to only go one way, then slide down, then go get back in line. She did very well with that again and was listening to my direction. She understands what “wait” means and what “go” means, so she also did very well waiting in line. The instructor commented that “she waits really well for her age”. YAY! Finally something was going right! haha She loves just running down the trampoline. I finally got her to jump a little bit on her last try.
Next up- over to the floor mat for some balloon and paddle fun. But wait, we have to walk past the foam pit first. Caroline desperately wanted to go in the pit. I told her we had to keep going with the group and follow the instructor. She listened SO WELL. She got a couple of balloons out and joined everyone on the floor. The music was on, and Caroline started dancing. That’s my girl! We were the only ones (the other kids were hitting their balloons with their paddles nicely). We danced with our balloons! LOL
Then it was time for the pit! Caroline jumped RIGHT IN! They have two ropes that hang from the ceiling that they can swing on. She said she wanted to try them. I helped her climb on. She held on tight and I swung her out into the pit. She landed head down with her feet in the air. I went in after her since she was just staying there and a bit confused. This girl had the biggest smile on her face. “More, more, more!”, she said. More it was! She then climbed up and went down a slide all on her own.
The group then headed to another trampoline. Caroline listened when I told her it was time to move to the next station. She walked over to the next area, following the instructor (Mr. Willy). Again, this trampoline was one at a time. I held Caroline up to watch as one of the other girls jumped. Then it was Caroline’s turn. She got right on and jumped. She waited while others took their turns.
At that point, class was almost over. Time to head over to the mat again (where we started), for a song and dance. Caroline again did not want to participate or stay put. More fits. So I just held her and we ended nicely. They all got stamps on their hands and feet before leaving!
Caroline had a great time. It is obviously going to be a challenge in the beginning and end of class to keep her focused. I am so glad that we are doing this though, as those are the types of things we need to be working on together, and we simply can’t do much at home other than practice basic directions. This place is perfect- it has distractions, yet the expectation will still be that Caroline listen to Mama and listen to the instructor. There is not much “instruction” at this stage other than to participate in the current station. That is going to be challenge enough during mat time! She also got so much energy out and is learning a lot about her body and movements with the activities that they had the children do. I am very glad we are doing this class. The class is 9 weeks long. I am excited to see how they progress in those 9 weeks!