GymbaROO – important for 3 and 4 year olds!
So often we are asked this very important question: “My child has been attending GymbaROO for the past three years – and now she’s off to kinder. Why should I keep bringing her along to GymbaROO?
This is a great question, and one that deserves a detailed answer. Parents perhaps wonder what benefit can be gained by their three and four year old attending GymbaROO – especially if they have been attending for the past few years – and there are parents whose children that have never been to GymbaROO that may ask the same question. Well, there are lots of reasons, and I hope this article will help you decide that your child is really going to benefit from the GymbaROO pre-school readiness program.
Kindergarten, or preschool is an important experience for all children – it helps them prepare for the social challenges of a school environment, however, many children go into their first year of school without the developmental skills of early childhood firmly established.
Why are the skills of early childhood so important?
Ages 3 to 5 is the time in which children consolidate the skills they have learned in the first three years. It is the period in which their brains start to more effectively put together information and appropriately respond to messages that come to them through all their senses – vision, hearing, touch, movement of muscles and joints, and balance. This prepares the brain to work at the higher level required for successful academic learning. The first three years is about getting the right message pathways set up for emotional, social and learning readiness. Movement and sensory experiences in the years from 3-5 transform these pathways into message superhighways that are required for academic success.
Children whose message superhighways in their brain are not ready for learning will find activities such as drawing, painting, bead threading, puzzles, cutting out, word recognition, letter and numeral writing more difficult than those whose brain is mature and responding effectively and efficiently. Even though the children who have some problems are most likely highly intelligent, they are at risk for ongoing learning difficulties.
We all expect children to learn once children get into school – and blame the teachers if they do not! Yet many children enter school without the skills required for learning, and, as a result, do not learn. The number of children who struggle at school has increased in recent years due to modern living. Children receive less and less opportunities to experience movement, sensory and perceptual activities that are so important to the development of their brain. We drive everywhere, children spend hours sitting and watching TV or playing computer games, they are no longer able to play freely in parks due to fears of safety and, especially when they are infants, they are rarely able to play freely on their tummies on the floor.
Minor developmental immaturities may not cause any problems prior to kindergarten or school, but they can be a major cause of difficulties in later learning. Staff at GymbaROO are trained to recognise the children who may not be ready for school. We identify the areas in which your child may have a “Just Noticeable Difference”, and recommend activities that will help to ameliorate the difference before your child gets to school and struggles.
The GymbaROO 3 -5 year olds program is unlike any other program as it offers children the opportunities to fine tune their brains in readiness for learning in a number of ways, it:
- Provides optimal opportunities to allow for complete integration of the senses (called Sensory Integration) – this means that the brain is able to clearly sort out, and make sense of all the messages coming from various parts of the body, pick the messages that are most relevant, screen out the ones that don’t matter, and respond effectively and efficiently with the best possible answer. This level of development of the brain is essential for
- Visualisation – needed to follow instructions; read, understand and write stories; recognise and spell words; remember words to songs, follow a rhythm; understand mathematical concepts.
- Self-esteem, confidence, emotional control and stability – needed to be able to cope with the emotional demands of everyday classrooms
- Good organisational skills – enables a child to be able to work out what needs to be done when.
- Staying focussed – required for concentration, following instructions, reading, learning maths tables and many other literacy and numeracy skills.
- Allows the children to experience movement skills that promote lateralization and cross lateralization. This are important for:
- Right and Left body awareness – children need to have a preferred hand before they begin schooling.
- Hand- eye coordination – is required for smooth hand writing as well as ball skills (also hand-foot coordination).
- Crossing the midline of the body – eyes must be able to smoothly track along a line from left to right, especially for reading and writing. Sport activities and ball skills also require this skill.
- Promotes conceptual awareness through activities and movement that important for:
- the understanding of concepts – up/down, in/out, over/under, beside/under, front/back, near/far, and other concepts used frequently in the classroom.
- space-time awareness – required for organisational skills in the classroom, catching objects, skipping and timing events such as catching or hitting a ball
- Provides opportunities to practice and learn social skills that enhance:
- awareness of and consideration of others
- taking turns and interacting with peers
- sensing body language and observing others
- learning to follow instructions as part of a group
- Allows for stimulation of proprioreceptive feedback mechanisms– this encourages the development of self correction feedback mechanisms, so that the mental image of particular moment is enhanced and the child can feel what needs to be changed. Children who learn easily can maintain good body posture in the classroom environment without having to lose concentration on the main task in hand.
- Promotes opportunities to develop good visual skills – this includes:
- focusing, eye teaming, distance calculations, near to far and back again, visual ability, convergence and peripheral vision. In other words they learn to use their eyes – an essential skill for reading, word recognition and many other visual skills in the classroom.
- Establishes foundational literacy skills
- visual and auditory skills are practiced – important for letter and word recognition
- sequencing practice and memory skills with words and pictures
- parents are assisted in understanding correct letter formation, how to use the blackboard and the value of ‘full arm’ activities.
Parents are encouraged to understand why all the activities undertaken at GymbaROO are so helpful to their child’s development. Of course, your child’s development is an on-going process, it does not happen just when they are at Kinder or at Gymbaroo classes. To maximize their development you need to know why certain activities are important, what to do at home and how to have fun at the same time.
Children who have mastered the pre-learning skills will find school a much more enjoyable and satisfying experience. Isn’t that what we all wish for all of our children?