Gymnasts Prepared to Participate
I just returned from a week of volunteer work in New Orleans that included gutting houses, hanging sheetrock, and painting new houses for Habitat for Humanity. I saw many teens through young adults in their twenties immersed in very different experiences than most had as a suburban-raised student. They were gutting, demolishing and building houses with thoughtful approaches and skill sets not taught in their high schools. Young women outnumbered young men. They were engaged in their work and sensitive to their surroundings.
My gymnast daughters dove into the work in New Orleans with zeal and persistence even though they had never handled a crowbar before. Did their gymnastics experience prepare them? Yes, in part it did, I believe.
First of all, they are strong.
Second, they know their abilities and their limits.
Third, they are accustomed to personal challenges.
Fourth, they are persistent.
Fifth, they have the motor planning abilities to figure out how to do things.
Gymnasts are strong since the sport demands total body strength and flexibility. Gymnastics is a year round sport requiring a competitor to stay in shape, and skills need frequent practice to be retained. Gymnasts have to understand their personal capabilities and limits to stay safe. While coaches “spot” skills and teach safe techniques, it is the gymnast who is ultimately responsible for their actions. Every time a gymnast attempts a new skill, they face a challenge. Some skills come easily while others take months to develop. Patience is needed to continue to try something new over and over until it is mastered. That builds persistence in gymnasts.
Ive outlined how competitive gymnasts bring their skills to an unknown situation. Does gymnastics on the preschool level build capable kids? Yes!.
Even at a preschool level, gymnastics teaches a child how to use their motor skills to maneuver, problem solve, and conquer challenges. Confidence in moving makes physical activity fun. Making activity fun increases the likelihood that your child will embrace an active life style. Trying new skills teaches children to deal with fear and uncertainty. With encouragement and support, children develop strategies to cope and persevere.
As a closing note, it was heartwarming to seeyoung adultsaccus-tomed to lots of screen time with computers, TV, iPods, etc. deal sensitively with peoplein difficult situations. Their people skills were good, and their compassion was genuine. The young adults working in New Orleans brought common sense to situations beyond their previous scope of experience.