Gymnastics With an Academic Twist

Marcia Carter, owner of the Oroville Gymnastics Sports Academy and LEAPS Preschool, began a program specifically designed to help children be more successful in her gymnastics classes and at school. Meeting the needs of the families in her community, she offers specialized classes to build the foundational skills critical for success inside gyms and inside classrooms.

A teacher in Marcia Carter’s community describes the benefits for children involved in classes offering gymnastics with an academic twist. ”During these past four years I have been teaching kindergarten. I have noticed that the children from your preschool achieve reading goals sooner and with more ease than ever seen before. The children who come from your preschool are always well prepared for the high state standards expected to be learned by kindergartners. I congratulate and thank you for all you do to help kindergarten students achieve these high expectations.”


Dr. Nancy Bates, owner of Gym Magic Sports Center and Preschool in Las Cruces, N.M., offers classes focusing on building a solid foundation for learning. “We emphasize education and learning. The response from our staff, parents, and children has been incredibly positive.” Gym Magic also created a new program Magical Moves (for six months to three years of age), which has led to partnerships with many early intervention groups. The response has been so positive that the early intervention groups have had to rotate families in and out of Gym Magic’s program because too many families want to participate in the new program.

Gymnastics centers experience a dramatic increase in enrollment when offering classes with an academic twist. If your gym is empty during the day, adding classes focusing on academic foundational skills may help increase revenue while offering a great service to the community and parents who homeschool their children.

As a parent of a child with special needs, I believe that it takes a team to raise a child with special needs. My child’s team includes her gymnastics coach right alongside her special education teacher. My daughter comes alive when she is at her gymnastics center. While usually burdened with expressive language delays, she becomes talkative and animated because her vestibular system gets a jumpstart from tumbling, swinging on bars, and jumping on the trampoline. When she is with her peers, her gymnastics skills are a communication tool for her — a way to connect. Always lagging behind her peers academically, it is magical to see her shine through gymnastics. Ensure that your treasure chest of educational gold is clearly embossed with a giant “X” that marks the spot where academic excellence begins — in your gymnastics center!

                • Dr. Nancy Bates

Foundational Physical Skills for Children

If your little athlete has a number of concerns on this list, talk with our athletic center in Englewood, and our team will likely recommend an evaluation from an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing challenges. Sensory issues are common underlying factors in ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and developmental delays. When children are involved in movement activities that help organize the sensory system, quite often their symptoms lessen or go away altogether.

While most reading readiness programs state goals, such as writing one’s name independently or sounding out simple words, essential physical foundation skills need to be in place for preschool children to be able to keep up with intense academic demands of today’s kindergarten classrooms.


Rolling into Reading

The more a child tumbles, climbs, creeps, and crawls, the more densely wired the brain becomes for academic success. Movement is the architect of a child’s brain. The two hemispheres of the brain are designed to constantly communicate with one another. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa. Bilateral activities, common to all gymnastic programs, require both sides of the body to work together and separately. Coordinated movement patterns create efficiency in the brain. Efficient pathways create fluent readers who complete reading tasks with ease. For example, during reading the left hemisphere attends to letters and the sequence of words, while the right side of the brain focuses on comprehending what is read. Reading fluency depends on one intimate conversation between the two hemispheres of the brain having a clear signal. Bouncing on the trampoline, tumbling down a mat, swinging from the bars-all these activities help wire the brain and integrate the vestibular system.

Located in the inner ear, the vestibular system is intricately connected with the brain. Its job is to make sense of all perceived sensory information from the environment and tell us where our bodies are in space. Like the hub of a wheel, the vestibular system integrates vision, hearing, balance, and skin sensations. If children have poor sensory processing skills, they may have a difficult time learning gymnastics skills or regulating behavior. Weaknesses observed in gymnastics classes may lead to discovering that the child is struggling in school as well.


What happens in Brain-Body Development

Come spend a day with Pam Jones, a preschool teacher with a vision to create an integrative preschool program that prepares all children for the rigorous expectations of kindergarten using movement, not worksheets.

With the assistance of Debra Em Wilson, Pam provides preschool children with activities that build a solid foundation for learning. These activities develop strong core posture, essential for sitting in a chair for any length of time. Midline and vision skills are enhanced with activities the children enjoy and must have in order to read and write with ease. Music activities provide children with opportunities to develop rhythm, sequencing, and timing, which are essential skills linked to a reduction in ADHD in children.

This engaging DVD takes you through Pam’s preschool day, including morning song activities, gross motor gymnastics, fine motor instruction, and Focus Moves activity room. In the Focus Moves activity room, children work on foundational skills essential for kindergarten success.

Techniques presented during this program are educational and informational in nature. For advice appropriate to your specific situation, please consult a physician. For package deals and seminar dates, visit www.schoolmoves.com.

              • Learner Press ISBN; 0-9706961-5-9