Teachers regularly tell us that three of the most important elements of school readiness are the ability to sit still, pay attention and stay focused. But did you know that being able to balance is critical to developing all three of these abilities?
It might seem a little odd, but the system that governs our internal sense balance also controls our alertness, concentration, stillness, and even our posture.
Ultimately, many parents are surprised when we tell them that balance underpins so many seemingly unrelated aspects of their children’s daily lives. But it is absolutely critical to your children’s physical, intellectual, social and emotional development.
This simple example from child development expert Gill Connell (author of ‘A Moving Child is a Learning Child’) draws a picture of just how important helping your child develop balance is, and how compromised balance negatively impacts our children's opportunity to learn and develop at school and in life.
“Think of trying to do everyday things like eating breakfast, riding a bike, or reading a book while standing on a tightrope. If you were always worried about falling over, how could your brain concentrate on anything else?”
HOW CAN PARENTS HELP?
Children aren’t born with a sense of balance. They need to learn it. And it is our responsibility as their grown-ups to help them with this critical foundation skill.
But how can we parents help! Children need to learn balance through movement, it’s the only way. That’s because balance is governed by something called our vestibular system, a sensory system that detects motion and gravity to create our internal sense of balance.
So, if balance is important, and it controls how well we can concentrate, be alert, and be still, then how can we help our children effectively develop it?
By developing their vestibular system! And, put simply, the vestibular system is developed through movement. Which makes developing it lots of fun!
Ever see a child spinning around in the park? Children seem obsessed with spinning. And hanging upside down. But did you know there’s a very good reason why? They do it because it feels good. And it feels good because it stimulates their vestibular system.
Make spinning, rolling, jumping up and down, and even going upside down a fun part of your play time with your child. Encourage all of this movement not just in their early years – a critical developmental period – but also past six, seven, eight and nine years of age. Keep on developing those critical systems as your children grow, and you’ll be giving them a great platform!
Our classes are designed to develop children’s balance and stimulate their vestibular system in the most fun way possible. That’s why we call our classes Serious Fun – they’re fun with a serious developmental purpose. Because we know children learn best when they are moving and having fun!
LET'S GET KIDS MOVING AND GROWING TOGETHER!
If you’re not a member yet and would like to be part of The Little Gym Godalming’s education revolution at Woodside Road, Chiddingfold, give our teachers a call on 01483 343 000 or email email@example.com. We would love to learn more about your child and discuss how we can help them develop critical physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills that will help them inside and out of the gym!
It’s no secret that physical activity offers countless health benefits, no matter our age. Besides strengthening muscles and bones it decreases the risk of becoming overweight and can also reduce anxiety. In this day and age as technology provides children with effortless entertainment, as parents get busier and driving to the gym becomes a chore, as full-time schooling approaches and cognitive development replaces physical progress, extra-curricular sports and activities become unimportant and are wrongly eliminated from a child’s daily schedule. But is stopping your child from being physically active really helping them do better in school?
Our bodies are designed to be active and studies have shown that our brains work much better when a physically active life is maintained. According to Rebecca Duncombe, Sport Pedagogy teacher at Loughborough University, many of the children who are sent to school nowadays are not physically ready. She argues that “…an inactive lifestyle early in life may be contributing to a lack of “school readiness” in young children.” Over the academic year of 2015-2016 Duncombe interviewed numerous teachers who strongly support complementary physical activities as having “a positive effect on children’s handwriting as well as their ability to follow instructions and their general readiness for learning.”
Regular aerobic exercise enhances cognitive functions particularly executive functions, it also improves behaviour and the ability to concentrate. According to Dr Charles Hillman (University of Illinois, Chicago, USA) exercise is “good for how fast individuals process information and how they perform on cognitive task.”
On the other hand, prolonged inactivity in childhood can lead to negative cognitive consequences such as reduced working memory, attention and learning. Brendon Hyndman, (Course Director of Postgraduate Studies in Education, Charles Sturt University) says that physical activity is important in developing students’ brain structures (cells/neurons) and functioning at an early age. “The human brain is not fully developed until the third decade of life, so getting kids moving can be a powerful academic strategy.”
The World Health Organisation recommends at least 60 minutes of daily moderate to intense physical activities for children between five and 17 years old. Our own National Health System (NHS) also provides strong guidelines: In fact, the NHS’ guidelines for five to 18-year-olds is pretty clear:
“To maintain a basic level of health, children and young people aged 5 to 18 need to do: at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day – this should range from moderate activity, such as cycling and playground activities, to vigorous activity, such as running and tennis. 3 days a week, these activities should involve exercises for strong muscles and bones, such as swinging on playground equipment, hopping and skipping, and sports such as gymnastics or tennis.
Children and young people should also reduce the time they spend sitting for extended periods of time, including watching TV, playing computer games and travelling by car when they could walk or cycle.
Being active for at least 60 minutes a day is linked to better general health, stronger bones and muscles, and higher levels of self-esteem.” Whilst some schools offer great sporting facilities, children still do not exercise to the daily recommended levels and hence after school activities are essential.
Besides, exercise is fun! Sport challenges and encourages children to overcome these challenges by themselves, setting them up to be independent. Exercising in a safe environment gives them confidence as they are encouraged to overcome challenges; if they are confident they take risks, if they take risks, they grow.
Sport also encourages discipline. It teaches children to be persistent and from an early age it inspires them to pursue goals. Discipline itself is a muscle that requires regular exercise. In his book “The Power of Habit” Charles Duhigg calls exercise a “keystone habit”. Setting up healthy habits in your child’s life contributes greatly to their development, both physically and intellectually.
So even as school starts, even as life gets busier, even if at times you would rather not to make that drive to the gym, remember that by doing so you are offering your child numerous benefits that will be noticeable throughout their life in any area that they choose to pursue.
So get them ready for a brilliant future, keep them active!
References and further reading:
Rebecca Duncombe, “Many children aren’t physically ready to start school”. Click Here
Brendon Hyndman, “Move it, move it: How physical activity in school helps the mind and the body”. Click Here
More information about Dr Charles Hillman’s research can be found here: Physical exercise benefits for children
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
To stop or not to stop… that’s the big question facing the parents of children starting reception every September. Should your child continue with their activities after school? The football, ballet or gymnastics that they love?
The answer is YES!
Your child is going to get quite a big shock when they go to school. But not the one us concerned parents are expecting…. Far from being tired, when they start school they will suddenly stop moving for most of the day, and be asked to sit quietly for long stretches.
Here’s the problem… four-year olds aren’t designed to sit quietly. They are still in the developmental stage where their brain is telling them to move, to explore, to experience as much of the world around them as humanly possible. And that is because our little ones learn through moving.
The NHS recommends aged 5 years and under should get at least three hours of exercise every day, including 60 minutes of vigorous exercise. But when they first start school, they will not get that exercise. And they need it to be better at school!
According to Ofsted, Early Years settings are “not sufficiently physically challenging”, and “the more active a child is, the stronger their body core and the better able they are to do things asked of them at school". If practitioners do not encourage children to do this then they are not setting them up very well for the future.”
That's because if you want your child to be a better sitter, a better listener, and better at concentrating, you need to get them moving. It’s the way to truly good listeners.
And here’s why…
Our vestibular system – our sixth sense – is responsible for helping us to sit still and listen, be alert, and concentrate. And it works in partnership with our seventh sense, proprioception. Now, if your child has a poorly developed vestibular sense and a challenged proprioceptive sense then they’re going to find school hard! They’ll be the child that fidgets, that can’t stop moving, that can’t focus, can’t be still, and doesn’t hear what the teacher is saying. They will not be able to retain information. And no parent wants that for their child.
But when does all that critical development of the vestibular system and proprioception happen? Right now, just when they’re being told to go to school, sit still, and listen. At exactly the stage in their life when they need to get moving! All of that development happens BEFORE the age of SIX!
And guess what, they’re both developed solely through movement. If the vestibular and proprioceptive senses are developed through movement, and all that critical development happens before the age of 6 years, then how on earth can our little ones get what they need from Pre-School and Reception alone?
The Simple Answer -- They Need Movement After School!
Your school-age child needs to get moving for three hours a day and even with the best of intentions our education system just can’t provide them with that opportunity. Only modern, savvy parents that are passionate about their children’s development can.
And not just any movement will do. To optimise their development, children need to take physical risks, regularly try a variety of new physical challenges for the first time, stretch their bodies in new directions, reach new heights, and problem solve.
When we were kids we climbed trees… and we have a responsibility as an increasingly aware generation of parents to find a super fun modern-day equivalent for our increasingly ‘more sedentary than they are designed to be’ children.
And according to Gill Jane, Deputy Director of Early Years at OFSTED, there is a tension between physical activity and taking risks, and as a parent, balancing risk is a hard thing to do. OFSTED would like early years practitioners to challenge children and take such risks in order to make them more physically active.
Helping Your Children to Learn Through Movement and Safe Risks
Giving children this strong platform is exactly where The Little Gym comes into play. We know what three, four and five-year-old children need, and we get them moving and challenged in the right way to aid their development. That’s why teachers, occupational therapists and paediatricians recommend us as an accompaniment to the early years of schooling – they understand what an important role we can play in supporting children’s development and schooling. Our curriculum focuses on the right muscle development to help your children sit up right, hold their pens properly and understand more complex directions. Our proprietary three-dimensional curriculum is designed to prepare children for school and enhance their progress thereafter.
And that’s what we all want – parents and teachers alike… to set every child up for success, help them to thrive, and make school as easy an experience for them as possible!
Don’t stop your children’s activities when they go to school. They won’t be too tired. They’ll need the outlet. And they need to keep moving. Penning them into a room for most of the day, stopping them from moving, and then removing the activities they love doesn’t do our beautiful children justice.
And just like us, they need to de-stress after a long day at school! Just like we need to de-stress after a long day at work. Why do you think adult gyms do such a roaring trade in the evening! School has the same effect on our children, let’s help them get that stress out of their system and sleep better at night.
Our Teachers Can Help!
Our teachers are always available to discuss how we can support your three, four or five-year old’s transition into little school or big school, and provide the outlet they need to keep growing and excelling on their exciting journey into the big bright world that awaits them.
Tell us your concerns, and we’ll see how we can help with extra flexibility for school starters. We can offer monthly flexible payments to ease your concerns. Just grab one of our teachers after class or at the front desk to see how we can help. Or, simply call us on 01483 343 000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Re-enrolment is almost over!
Quick reminder for those who haven’t re-enrolled yet that there’s only one week left for you to benefit from the member’s discount when re-enrolling your child into the new season (starting on the 3rd of September). To secure their place please make sure you formally sign up and pay your deposit by the 21st of July, you can do this by speaking to any member of our team. You can also find all information about re-enrolment in the parents’ re-enrolment newsletter. We look forward to seeing our gymnasts learn and progress their skills even further!
Summer is here!
Our Summer camps are about to start! From the 31st of July to the 1st of September we offer a range of exciting and fun activities for children aged 3 to 10 years old. Children aged between 3 and 5 are able to stay for two hours, there is no length restriction for children aged 5 years and above. Spaces are limited so make sure you book your child’s place soon! You can also benefit from our special offer of bringing a friend for free, simply make sure that they are registered with us beforehand by either you or their parents.
During this period some classes will still be running. These include Parent/child classes on Wednesday and Saturday morning, as well as classes for 3 to 12 year olds on Fridays and Saturdays. The Little Gym Godalming will be closed on Sundays and Mondays during August.
You can find all information regarding summer camps, including prices, by visiting our website. Please note that the Skill Thrill Camp has now moved to Wednesday afternoon.
We love our The Little Gym Leotards and T-shirts!
We will soon be re-ordering Leotards and T-shirts! If you would like one please speak to us so we can order your size and favourite colour!
Win a FREE Birthday Party!
Review us on Google and get a chance to win a FREE Birthday Party! Two runners up will receive two FREE Summer Camps each. The final prize draw will take place on Tuesday 31st of July. Entrants must be members, enrolled in Semester 2, and attending weekly classes.
Birthday parties at The Little Gym are super fun! All our Birthday Parties give your birthday child and their friends the full run of the facility, filling the celebration with instructor-led games, music and super fun activities. You also won’t have to worry about setup or clean-up, making it totally awesome and completely stress-free for you!
Terms and conditions apply. For more information about Birthday Parties visit our website or speak to a member of our team.
How to Review on Google
Type The Little Gym Godalming in your search engine and our business page will feature on the right hand side. Scroll down a little to where the reviews are and add your own comments.
Review us on Facebook too, for an extra chance to win!
Easily double your chances by also writing a review on our Facebook page. We’ll give you a second entry in the draw to win the FREE birthday party or Camps!
Also make sure you like and follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with all our news and offers.
We hope you have enjoyed this season with us and wish you a fabulous Summer!
The Little Gym Godalming Team
When we tell people that we are launching our brand new Bugs class 4 to 10 months old from 1st August 2018, they occasionally say – ‘What on earth can you teach a 4-month old!?”.
What we learn as a 4-month old, sets us up for life! The Little Gyms around the World has had great success in teaching these classes for years now. And, we love teaching fun, rich classes for our little baby Bugs, as we call them, because we know that by developing the little brains in our baby Bugs we’re shaping their entire life and setting them up for success.
Those big adult brains we all have started out as little brains. And those little brains are hungry, they need to be fed so that they can reach their full potential at every stage of life – not just now, but in five years, 10 years, and even 20, 30 or 40 years!
But how do babies learn, and why is it important to start young?
Your baby’s brain grows with every experience – everything they smell, see, touch, chew, every movement they make, every surface they feel. And in the first months and first years, their body is the engine for all of their brain development.
That’s where our Bugs classes for 4-10 month olds are unique. We know that the more Bugs move, the more they experience, the more we stimulate all seven of their senses (not just FIVE!) then the bigger their brains get. And we want our little ones to have nice big brains full of processing power.
That’s why teachers have told us they can tell which of the children in their classes go to The Little Gym!
Diverse Repetition is key to learning!
Babies aged between 4 and 10 months need opportunities to repeat new experiences in various scenarios for their brain to grow and learn, and grow and learn some more.
Through repetition, the brain has the chance to grow new pathways. And the more pathways we have in our brains, the more efficiently our brains work, and the better our brain cells are at processing and exchanging information. All this helps to make our Bugs super smart.
But we also want this learning to stick – or as we say, we want to hard wire all those connections in their little brains and this is why our well researched curriculum is developed for this purpose.
How hardwired these connections become depends on how much repetition your child experiences. After just one experience of something, the wiring is weak. But the more repetition a child has, the stronger and more hard-wired what they’ve learnt becomes. The child can then eventually perform actions without even thinking – and that’s when they’ve achieved what we call ‘automation’.
And that automation is exactly what we want for your babies and children. Once we have helped them to automate the simple things, they can go on to more complex learning, and that’s when they can truly live up to their potential.
Did you know that we actually have 7 senses?!
We have the usual 5 that most people know about and most sensory classes focus on – touch, taste, smell, sound and sight, but did you know about the extra two? These are called our proprioceptive and vestibular senses. These two sensory systems actually form the foundation for all of our learning, which makes them pretty darn important!
Activation of all the juicy new pathways we’re building in your baby’s brain occurs when a child experiences something new through not just five senses, but all seven senses. And to activate all seven senses, you need to get your Bug moving – proprioception and the vestibular system are critically developed through movement.
Imagine that your Bug is crawling on a piece of equipment in the Gym. Whilst they are crawling, they have to work out how to balance on their hands and knees. And they have to look where they’re going. And hold their head up so they can look for their parent. And also make sure that parent is still nearby! But then they also have to make sure they don’t fall off the end of the equipment, and must start to predict and problem solve where the end is! And they don’t need to be crawlers yet to absorb all of this information. Just being among other little Bugs can enhance their development. Babies from 4 months learn fast and try to mimic others; this is why the youngest children usually develop faster than their older sibling.
This multi-sensory learning, repeated again and again in different situations, is key to developing automation, and creating the millions of connections our little Bugs need to set a strong foundation that optimises their learning not just today, but when they’re 2, or 4, when they’re at school, university and beyond!
Bugs Grow at The Little Gym!
The greater the new experiences your child has in every class at The Little Gym, the more opportunities their brain has for growth! And that enhanced brain activity and efficiency will provide the foundation for more complex levels of learning in the future. And what an exciting future that is for our little Bugs!
We are launching this exciting new class on 1st August so, for more information on our Bugs classes for 4-10 month olds, and to take advantage of our free trial, call The Little Gym Godalming on 01483 343 000 or email us at Godalming@thelittlegym.eu
We're very excited to announce our Summer Season Schedule a month early! You said you wanted to see the summer schedule, and we're thrilled to be able to share the schedule with you early!
Following lots of requests for Summer Gymnastics and Child Development Classes from members, we're delighted to announce that we will be running both Summer Camps AND Summer Classes for five weeks from 1st August to 1st September 2018.
Fun-Filled Summer Camps!
We will be running our hugely popular Super Quest Camps for 3-10 year olds and our Skill Thrill classes for your gymnastics junkies (6-12) all through the summer. That means lots of fun, cartwheels, and laughter for every child.
Our camps are three hours long for 5 years old and up and 2 hours long for 3-4 years old. During the first hour, your children are in the gym going on an adventure with our teachers. During the second hour, we have snacks (provided by you / guardians / parents) for a rest and to boost their energy, followed by a break with age-appropriate arts, crafts, stories and play. And then it's back into the gym for a final hour of fun!
You can find our Summer Camps Schedule Here. The camp schedule remains the same for each week of the summer, with a different theme for the camps every week, and lots of exciting new games to play and skills to learn!
You can book any session. There are no restrictions on booking whole weeks, or days in a row. You can also book two sessions in one day!
Super Quest Camps -- 3-10 Year Olds
Children from 3-10 years old can go on a Super Quest as a Super Hero, Sky Ranger, Green Beard’s Pirate or go on a Race to Outer Space… and many more wonderful themes. We'll take your little one on a gymnastics and sports Super Quest full of exciting themed missions in the gym. Then they'll take a break from the running around for snacks and arts and crafts, and maybe story time in our cosy, cosy kitchen corner, before heading back into the gym for their next mission.
Skill Thrill Camps -- 6-12 Year Olds
For gymnastics junkies aged between 6-12 years, come on a super fun and confidence boosting Skill Thrill workshop to perfect handstands, cartwheels, vaulting, handsprings and more. Skill Thrill Camps are themed camps that also build in some seriously fun skill development! Not only do your children go on a fun mission in the gym, they also get to hone their gymnastics skills just in time to show them off at school again in September!
Flexible Camp Scheduling!
Family schedules are complicated, and you might not want to sign up and attend camps all day every day. No problem! At The Little Gym, we give you the choice of doing one half-day camp a week, two, three, or even four! The number of camps you attend is absolutely flexible and designed to work with the differing needs of families and children.
Members and non-members are both welcome too! Pricing below!
Great Deals with Summer Camp Bundles!
Summer Sunshine is great, and so are our great Summer Camp Bundles! Camps are £30 per half day for members, and £35 per half-day for non-members. Full day for our members are £55 and £60 for our non-members. Buy 10 half-days and get it for £200 if you’re a member or, £300 if you’re not a member yet!
To book camps, contact our wonderful team of teachers on 01483 343 000 or email us!
A Summer Bonus -- Classes!!
We're thrilled to announce that we will now be holding classes for every age group up to 12 years old and even introducing a new class for babies as young as 4 months old across the summer. We just couldn't ignore your requests for classes in the summer!
Summer classes with our lovely energy charged teachers are a great way to keep developing your children's bodies, brains, and their social and emotional skills while they're having a break from school.
Our super instructors will run classes for Bugs, Birds, Beasts, Super Beasts, Funny Bugs, Giggle Worms, Good Friends, Flips and Hot Shots, AND Twisters all the way through the summer.
You can find our complete Summer Classes schedule HERE -- choose 'Summer 2018' from the drop down schedule menu.
To book classes, contact us on 01483 343 000 or email us!
Great Value Summer Class Bundles!
We also have some fantastic summer value bundles and the opportunity for summer only pay-as-you-go sessions to keep your little ones giggling and growing across the summer holidays. These value bundles are only available across the summer
Check these great Summer Bundles out:
Summer Bundle: five Summer Classes for £65
Bookings are open now! Spaces will be limited, so get in early to book.
We're looking forward to seeing you for a world of wonderful summer fun soon!
May half-term holiday is around the corner, and so are our fun-filled The Little Gym Camps! Children from 4 to 12 years can spend the holidays secure with the teachers they already know and love. Non-members are welcome too!
Choose from our exciting Hawaiian Hide and Seek or Legends, Fables & Folklore theme. Whatever their age or passion, we have the camp!
Our two-day camps have an exciting theme, all designed to make your children smile and use their imagination! And, they get 1h30 of fun in the gym, and one hour of age-appropriate arts & crafts, and snacks to get a bit of a breather!
Wednesday 30th May 2018, 9.00-12.00: Hawaiian Hide and Seek!
Wednesday 30th May 2018, 13.00-16.00: Hawaiian Hide and Seek!
Thursday 31st May 2018, 9.00-12.00: Legends, Fables & Folklore
Thursday 31st May 2018, 13.00-16.00: Legends, Fables & Folklore
Or, you can book the full days on both days from 9.00-16.00!
Not only do your children go on a fun mission in the gym, they also get to hone their gymnastics skills just in time to show them off at school!
Contact our team on 01483 343000 or email at email@example.com for more information and to book a camp with your favourite teachers this May Half-term holiday. Spaces are limited!
Come along to our amazing Baby and Toddler and Pre-School Open Morning at The Little Gym Godalming on Friday 1st June 2018!
This is a rare opportunity to experience one of our award winning classes and enjoy a welcoming morning tea with cakes. Join a wonderful community of Mums, Dads and Nannies, and share the wonders, laughs and challenges of raising babies and toddlers.
Spaces are limited. Call now or book online here for your child's class. Bookings are essential:
9:30am - 10:15am - 'Birds' for 10-19 months
10:30am - 11:15am - 'Beasts / Super Beasts' for 20-36 months
11:30am - 12:20pm - 'Funny Bugs' for 3-4 years old
1:30pm – 2:30pm – ‘Fun Friday’ for 4-6 years old
3:00pm – 4:00pm – ‘Fun Friday’ for 6 – 12 years old
The Open Morning is free and designed for those who have not yet tried our Parent-Child and Pre-school programmes. Call 01483 343 000, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book online here https://godalming.thelittlegym.eu/event-form. Places are limited!
Our Parent and Child Programme for babies, toddlers and pre-school children is designed by child development specialists and physical education experts to provide young children with a solid platform for everything to come in life. Our 3-Dimensional approach to skill development means that every class we offer fosters growth in three holistic dimensions: Brain Boost, Get Moving and Life Skills -- all designed to encourage your child to grow into a well-rounded, well adjusted child.
Our fun classes are semi-structured, allowing an opportunity for exploration while also introducing rich group learning activities and opportunities for integration, socialisation, and the development of a host of critical life skills. They're lovely classes full of music, movement, laughter and cuddles in our beautiful facility. We look forward to welcoming you and your little one for lots of giggles, grins and growth in the gym! Booking is a must!
PAY AS YOU GO:
In the afternoon we will run Fun Friday classes for children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old.
Non-members and members are welcome to book. The price for this extra class is £15. Book soon as places are limited! Fun Friday classes will be gymnastics based classes filled with fun, music, movement and great games! Parents and Guardians will be offered a glass of Prosecco and nibbles whilst they enjoy watching their little ones having fun!
A fun, rounded approach to physical exercise is the key to lifelong wellbeing
Last week I was speaking with a friend whose goddaughter had reached the lower echelons of the junior GB swimming team. She was a brilliant swimmer, but she simply wasn’t brilliant enough and eventually the realisation dawned that 12th best in the country – good as it was - was a long way from any podium. It all came crashing down when she was 15. Competition – and the need to be better than she felt she could ever be - had taken the spark out of her sporting experience and in the seven years since she’s swum just once.
Not playing ball
According to the US National Alliance for Youth Sports around 70 percent of kids in the United States stop playing organised sports by the age of 13 because “it’s just not fun anymore.” CNN reports football coach John O’Sullivan as saying “it’s time to put the ‘play’ back in play ball.” Last year, The Irish Times ran an article entitled: “Over-competition in sport is bad for children’s mental health.”
The 3D approach to activity
This post isn’t a rant against competitive sport. Some children thrive on it. But for others, the over dependence on competition and the belief that elite sport is the only sport that really counts is proving damaging.
In contrast, taking a broader, more holistic approach to physical exercise can have long lasting benefits. New research shows exercise in childhood can have a protective effect in later years. it boosts brain power and cognitive development. And whilst competitive sport can risk emotional harm in those not suited to it, a ‘3D’ approach to physical wellbeing can protect mental wellbeing for life.
Crucially, not one of the studies above requires the physical activity to be elitist or competitive. It’s fine to have a go. It’s ok to not be great at it. It’s definitely ok to have fun while doing it. And once that feeling of fun is there – and so long as it isn’t removed again by hours of training on/in the track, rink, pitch or pool – it’s far more likely to stay.
The sport that really counts
I get immensely protective of the children at The Little Gym when I hear the odd aside about ‘real sport’ or when I hear the physical activity we undertake is ‘recreational’ (as if that’s a bad thing).
As the data increasingly shows, increasing the fun and removing the stress are the ways to get most children (and most adults for that matter) enthused about exercise. True, we don’t focus on developing the next generation of Olympians, it doesn't mean either that we won't. What we do focus on is to develop alert, confident, well-adjusted and healthy people who no longer need to feel terrified, rejected or let down by sport.
I’d say that’s a goal worth pursuing.
Want to give your child a lifelong love of physical activity, without the stress? Give me a call on 01483 343 000.
The benefits of physical development stretch far beyond the physical…
You may not realise it, but the Department for Education has a role to play in your child’s development long before they set foot in a classroom. It’s the DoE that established the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/596629/EYFS_STATUTORY_FRAMEWORK_2017.pdf, a document that sets the standards for learning and development of young children up to and including 5 year olds. It covers a lot of ground - from language and communication to social and emotional development – in its efforts to ensure every child can develop confidence, independence and resilience.
Central to it is physical development.
This isn’t physical development in the traditional school setting – we’re not talking about PE. An understanding of good health and physical exercise is a part of it, but the EYFS definition reaches much further: to dressing and using the toilet independently, to basic hygiene and to ensuring that “children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.”
Learning to play
When you think about it, that makes complete sense. Unless you have an understanding of how your body moves, and develop the coordination of hands, feet and the rest of your body, you can’t draw the picture, score the goal or build the Lego castle that’s in your head.
Play may be an essential part of a child’s development, but even play needs some basic physical building blocks to get started.
Yet the benefits of physical development don’t stop there.
Take this study from the University of Aberdeen https://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/3600/, which found a clear link between exercise and a child’s concentration.
Councillor Martin Greig, Vice-Convener of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee, said: "The conclusion of the research confirms what many have long believed about the significance of physical activity for learning. The carefully conducted research gives support to incorporating an appropriate amount of exercise into the school day.”
Or how about this article in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/jun/18/how-physical-exercise-makes-your-brain-work-better, pulling together “a wave of studies exploring the unexpected links between mental and bodily fitness.” Included in here are studies that show physical exercise benefits concentration, creativity, memory and mental health.
And then there’s this piece from The Telegraph https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/jun/18/how-physical-exercise-makes-your-brain-work-better, reporting on a study which also looked at the link between physical activity and concentration in children, and which found “those placed on the programme improved their accuracy on some mental capability tests by twice as much as those who were not assigned to do daily exercise.”
Bringing it all together
At The Little Gym, our very reason for being is the holistic benefits of physical activity on the health, wellbeing and performance of children.
Here’s one very simple example. If you can’t sit still you can’t concentrate. If you can’t concentrate you can’t learn or play. And if you can’t learn or play you can’t develop. That’s why some of the fun activities we’ll include within a session are designed to strengthen the body’s core and hip muscles.
Because when your body has developed the strength and muscle memory to keep you sat up straight, it can devote more energy to everything else.
That squarely aligns with the DoE’s requirement for physical development, but it also ensures that our children are ideally placed to benefit from all the other cognitive, concentration and developmental benefits of physical activity.
Want to give your child that sort of boost? Give me a call on 01483 343 000 or email me at email@example.com.
Depression will affect 1 in 4 children and teenagers. As social media continues to ramp up body image pressure, it’s likely those figures will rise. Yet, in a whole range of ways, exercise can help.
Medication, dedicated treatment programmes and psychotherapy can all play their part in helping a child through the black cloud of depression, but there’s one treatment that, studies suggest, could outstrip them all in terms of long lasting benefits: exercise.
The idea of using exercise as a way to address wellbeing and mental health is hardly new – scientists have been investigating the positive effects of exercise on depression since the early 1900s. But as lives become more sedentary, more pressurised and more solitary, the effects of exercise are becoming even more pronounced.
The effects of exercise on depression
It’s not for nothing the Canadian YMCA has launched a programme aimed specifically at mental health in the young. As the Canadian Psychological Association notes, the benefits of exercise include “lower levels of stress, sadness, and loneliness; improved sleep quality and self-esteem; and boosted academic performance in youths.”
The Mayo Clinic notes a key non-medical strategy for addressing childhood depression is to stay healthy, advising parents to: “Do your part to make sure your teen eats regular, healthy meals, gets regular exercise and gets enough sleep.”
Mentalhealth.org.uk notes that “people with high levels of regular physical activity have been shown to have higher levels of positive emotions such as interest, excitement, enthusiasm and alertness compared to people with moderate and low levels of physical activity.”
And this study (into depression in the general population) revealed a clear and “statistically significant” link between physical activity and mental wellbeing, with symptoms of depression reducing in each study group that used exercise to combat the condition.
Results that last
What’s more, the improvements exercise can convey appear to be long lasting. The depressed subjects of the above study “displayed significantly greater improvements in depression, anxiety, and self-concept than those in a control group after 12 weeks of training” and “maintained many of these gains through the 12-month follow-up period.”
It isn’t only the physical activity that benefits mental wellbeing either. Find the right exercise group, and the social element can be just as beneficial to overcoming depression. As mentalhealth.org.uk says, “there is extensive research that shows that good social relationships and networks promote and are a protective factor for wellbeing and mental health.”
How do you get a depressed child to exercise?
‘That’s all very well’, you might say, ‘but have you tried getting my son or daughter anywhere near a gym?’
There’s a specific cocktail of issues that surround youth depression that makes it even less likely a tween will commit to exercise: low self-esteem; other, more sedentary distractions; the feeling that ‘everyone else will be better/look better than me’.
Here are some simple tips for overcoming such issues and encouraging your child to give exercise a try:
Exercise has a unique power to help reduce the symptoms of depression and instil a love of physical activity that can benefit your child physically and emotionally as they grow towards adulthood. To find out more about how we could help your child find, call 01483 343 000.
Come along to our amazing Baby and Toddler Open Morning at The Little Gym Godalming on Friday 6th April!
A rare opportunity to experience one of our award winning classes and enjoy a welcoming morning tea with cakes. Join a wonderful community of Mums, Dads and Nannies, and share the wonders, laughs and challenges of raising babies and toddlers.
Spaces are limited. Call now or book online here for your child's class. Bookings are essential:
9:30am - 10:00am - 'Birds' for 10-18 months
10:30am - 11:00am - 'Beasts' for 19-29 months
11.30am - 12:00pm - 'Super Beasts' for 30-36 months
Our Parent and Child Programme for babies and toddlers is designed by child development specialists and physical education experts to provide young children with a solid platform for everything to come in life. Our 3-Dimensional approach to skill development means that every class we offer fosters growth in three holistic dimensions: Brain Boost, Get Moving and Life Skills -- all designed to encourage your child to grow into a well-rounded, well adjusted child.
Our fun classes are semi-structured, allowing an opportunity for exploration while also introducing rich group learning activities and opportunities for integration, socialisation, and the development of a host of critical life skills. They're lovely classes full of music, movement, laughter and cuddles in our beautiful facility. We look forward to welcoming you and your little one for lots of giggles, grins and growth in the gym!
The Little Gym Godalming is recruiting now! We offer great progression opportunities with competitive salaries.
Our teachers hand out smiles every day -- and we're convinced we have the best job in the world! If you want to hands out smiles, not just gymnastic skills, then read on to find out how you could be making hundreds of children giggle, grin and sparkle every week.
We're looking for energetic and dynamic teachers – full time and part time – to join our passionate and vibrant team as we launch an exciting new business in Chiddingfold, Godalming GU8 Surrey.
The Little Gym Godalming is all about teaching through fun – that’s how children learn best! It also makes our jobs great fun too. There’s nothing better than seeing children and their parents glowing with pride and happiness after class, and knowing that YOU made that difference.
Primarily a teaching role, you will teach children from 10 months - 12 years, depending on your experience. We are looking for a number of individuals that have experience teaching gymnastics, dance, acrobatics or parkour. There is admin, sales and customer service required as part of the role.
Team members will have the opportunity to grow with this new business, from day one, and there is plenty of opportunity to progress to more senior roles in the business for the right people. We are a franchise of 300 in the World so, we genuinely don’t just provide jobs, we give career opportunities.
Salary is dependent on experience and does include performance related bonuses.
Secondary education – good command of written and spoken English
Gymnastics, Gymnastics dance, dance, acrobatics or similar: minimum 2 year
Level 1 coaching minimum in either Gymnastics, dance, acrobatics or similar
Paediatric first aid viewed favourably
If you think you have what it takes to change children’s lives every day, please click on this link and send us your CV with a covering letter.
The ‘terrible twos’ are that bit more stressful when you add sleep problems to the mix. Between 2 and 3 years old, it’s common for children to experience sleep issues, and for the purposes of this post, we’re splitting those issues in two: problems falling asleep, and problems staying asleep.
At the age of 2, there’s a separation anxiety that affects many children at bedtime. The right bedtime regime can allay this anxiety; the wrong regime can intensify it.
In fact, even the word ‘regime’ can be an issue, because it’s important to find the right balance between the night time rituals that provide comfort and reassurance (eg brushing teeth is followed by getting into bed, which is followed by story time) and the destructive rituals that become blocks to sleep (eg “I can’t sleep without teddy X, the small light on, the big light off, the TV on in the corner, a dummy in my mouth etc etc).
Sleep is a natural process. It’s something most people do automatically every night. So try to avoid making it a ‘thing’ and building it up to be a big event. In particular, if you’ve had a few interrupted nights, try to avoid transmitting that feeling of ‘I really hope they sleep tonight’ to your child (because they’ll pick up on your anxiety and will be even less likely to sleep).
By the age of two, teething is usually (just about) done, but there are more developmental leaps just around the corner and each one can coincide with what’s known as a sleep regression (ie a period when a child who has been sleeping well, suddenly stops). At the age of two, your child is growing intellectually, emotionally, verbally and physically and it’s not uncommon for those leaps to cause a ‘wobble’ in the sleep pattern. Things usually settle down again after a few weeks.
But if you’re concerned that your child keeps waking and the problem doesn’t subside, the answer could be:
Too late/early to bed
Sleep patterns change over time. A child that needed lots of sleep may begin to need a little less and vice versa. If your child goes to bed late, try an earlier bedtime as being overtired can (rather counterintuitively) lead to earlier waking. Alternatively, if you typically put them down early, try nudging bedtime back a little so they’re more tired.
There’s a point at which the needs your child had as a baby (regular feeding, night and day) change. Where once a night time feed was the right choice, in a 2-year old it can be a cause of night-waking, because little tummies are full of fuel.
Instead, make sure your child eats a full, healthy dinner and avoid even a small supper within 30 minutes of bedtime.
The food intolerances that can give us all an interrupted night’s sleep can have just as pronounced an effect on your child. If your child is suffering rashes, bloating or swelling, talk to your GP.
Physical exercise of the sort we promote at The Little Gym can benefit sleep in a range of ways. Exercise can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, benefitting falling and staying asleep. It can make a child more alert during the day (and therefore more likely to enjoy a full night’s sleep). And, by raising the body temperature during exercise and cooling again afterwards, it can promote deep sleep, particularly when your child’s The Little Gym session is later in the day.
If you’d like to know more about how The Little Gym could help your child enjoy a better night’s sleep, call me on 01483 343 000.
Years before I even realised running my own The Little Gym was a possibility, I’d already seen its benefits.
My son, Luca, was 18 months old. He’d started walking by about 14 months, he was alert and interested in the world around him and busy doing all the things little boys do.
I first brought him to my local The Little Gym because I’d always been a big believer that a sound mind starts with a sound body. I’m not quite sure what I expected the results to be, but I’m certain I didn’t except them to be quite so profound, quite so quickly.
I’ve often described the acceleration he got from The Little Gym – athletic, cognitive, social and behavioural – as uncanny. That may not be the most scientific of assessments (especially from someone with a background in children’s cognitive health) but that’s really the only way I can describe it. Uncanny, and magical to watch.
By the time he started attending school for a few mornings a week at the age of 3, Luca was sitting upright on his chair, full of confidence and attentiveness. He was raising his hand to ask and answer questions, waiting for his turn, listening to instructions. He knew how to hold his pen, knew how to start a conversation, knew how to make friends.
With these building blocks in place courtesy of The Little Gym, he was able to progress so much faster at school, because he wasn’t having to expend energy on mastering these skills; he already had them.
Ah, you might say, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have developed them that quickly anyway? That would be a fair point, but for the fact that since then I’ve met lots of other The Little Gym franchise owners and – without exception - they’re all former members who saw similar transformations in their own children.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind a little.
I worked for a pharma company specialising in enzyme replacement treatments for rare diseases. What we did was astonishing. I’d wake every day knowing that today we could transform a child’s quality of life, their lifespan, or the opportunities they were able to seize. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of, but it came at a personal cost.
I was a single mum spending lots of time living out of hotel rooms as I travelled the world for my job. Initially, I was able to leave Luca with a nanny safe in the knowledge that he was well cared for, even if I was wracked with guilt.
By the time he was able to say, “Mummy, do you have to go?” I’d barely be able to keep it together long enough to leave the house without sobbing. Eventually I just couldn’t continue, so I began looking for something else – something that would keep me much closer to home.
I knew I wanted to continue working with children. I loved them (and they seemed to like me!) and I knew I wanted to feel as though I was making a difference. Then I remembered the difference the The Little Gym had made to Luca.
They had it so right. They still do. And when a little research revealed they were a franchise, there was no hesitation.
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about The Little Gym Godalming opening its doors. So let me show you instead. Come and see us – you can get in touch here.
“A sound mind in a sound body.” You’ll no doubt have heard that before – it’s the sort of thing every parent says to their child at some point. What you may not realise is that this simplest of sayings dates back thousands of years, yet is backed by some very hard, very current science.
It was Greek Philosopher Thales who first suggested that physical exercise is an important (and possibly essential) part of mental and psychological wellbeing. I know what you’re thinking: you probably prefer your science to come from a little more recently than 600BC, but the fascinating thing about Thales’ theory is that, after lots of research carried out over the past couple of decades, it has basically been proved entirely accurate.
Movement, Sally Blythe notes in The Well-Balanced Child, “is part of the dance of development.” Repeated movements, she says, “help to strengthen the neural pathways that run between the brain and the body.”
As children grow, their ability to control their environment through movement and manipulation affects their cognitive development. In 2012, a study found that “fine motor skills… contribute to kindergarten achievement” while a 2016 report observed “significant correlations… between motor coordination and… cognitive function.”
Rewarding as it is to have the scientific community back the work we do at The Little Gym, we don’t need a scientific study to tell us the difference movement and motor skills can make to a child, because we see it all the time. If you think about it, the effect of physical development on academic achievement is almost inevitable.
Take a pre-toddling child, for example. The sooner they develop their core muscles, the sooner they’ll be able to walk, and the sooner they’ll be able to turn those first, wobbly, tentative steps into confident movement.
In later life we see the same effect when we’re learning to drive. When your hands and feet (and head) are a whirl of gearstick, steering wheel, clutch, accelerator, you have little mental space left for processing the world around you. During my earliest driving experiences I remember focusing about 2 feet beyond the end of the car bonnet. Only when I’d got the hang of the basic controls did my focus lengthen. That’s when I really started to learn to drive.
A toddler is mastering their own vehicle – their body. The sooner they can do it, the more they can focus on the discovery rather than how to get to the discovery.
Freeing up that cognitive resource is something that continues to be a big advantage as a child develops. If your child starts school unable to hold a pencil correctly, then they can’t devote all their mental energy to understanding how to form letters and numbers because they’re still trying to grasp (literally) the basic tools.
The sort of movement and fine motor skills developed at The Little Gym aren’t merely a ‘nice to have’. They’re essential for a good start in life – and just as important to cognitive development as they are to physical development.
Even the Ancient Greeks knew that.