At what age can – or should – a child begin gymnastics? It’s a question that gymnastics schools, coaches and instructors hear all the time. And the most basic answer any of them can offer is that there are no hard and fast rules. There are no legal or even generalized ‘rules’. There are gyms that offer classes for tiny tots but will take on a twelve-year-old as a beginner too. However, there are some tips and guidelines that parents can consider to help them decide just when their child is ready to begin gymnastics .
What the Experts Say
Some parents look to a respected medical entity like the American Academy of Pediatrics to guide them in getting advice about all kinds of things relating to their kids’ development, including their children’s participation in sports. For organized sports such as baseball the AAP advises that most children are not ready until they are around six. Instead, they suggest that children between the ages of around 18 months and 5 years should take part in activities that build motor skills, such as running, tumbling, throwing, catching and balancing. Sounds a lot like gymnastics doesn’t it?
And indeed, the AAP recommends gymnastics as a sport for very young children as long as they practice it in a controlled, structured environment with a dedicated adult supervisor present. Another expert body, USA Gymnastics, the umbrella organization for the U.S. Olympic team and gyms all over the country, also feel that gymnastics is an option for the very young and even certify teachers to conduct special ‘kinder classes’ that also involve parents to help provide that one-on-one adult supervision that the AAP recommends. These ‘early’ classes introduce children to the basics of gymnastics and are conducted in a way that is lots of fun for children and allows them to learn and progress at their own pace.
Let Your Child Guide You
If your two-year-old is already tumbling their way across the backyard – or the kitchen floor – then it’s actually probably a very good idea to get them enrolled in formal gymnastics class as soon as possible so that they can begin to learn the right way to do it! If, on the other hand, you have a three or four-year-old who can barely make it through story time without being told off many times because concentration is still a skill they are mastering then they may not be ready for a formal gymnastics class just yet. And if that is the case, it’s OK. There will still be plenty of other beginners whenever your child is ready to begin gymnastics classes, whether that is when they are three or thirteen.
It’s Not Too Late
Although many children begin gymnastics training at an earlier age, all is not lost if they don’t develop an interest in the idea until they are older. Some kids just don’t become interested in gym at all until later on, or they try another sport and find it’s just not for them. Most good gymnastics schools offer beginner’s classes at a number of different age levels that accommodate a wide range of skill levels. At the most basic level gymnastics classes offer more than a way to exercise and let off steam. Gymnastics helps children gain resilience, discipline and confidence, learn to work as a part of a team and even to develop better social skills, and these are all benefits that kids can gain, even if they are ‘older’ when they get started.