Original article: http://ballaratfamilyguide.com.au/fun-at-gymbaroo-ballarat/
These beautiful images are courtesy of Event Evolution Photography & Social Media Solutions
Running, jumping, bouncing, crawling, climbing, throwing, spinning, tapping, singing, dancing. These are all the things, and more, that our little mister gets to do for fun at Gymbaroo Ballarat!
But what he doesn’t realise, is that as much as he is having fun, he is also learning and developing his skills at the same time, win-win I reckon.
I first met Yvette (one of the managers of Gymbaroo Ballarat) a few years ago when I was chatting with her about another business she operates here in Ballarat, helping children overcome their learning difficulties by doing physical exercises, and she spoke to me about the connection between learning and movement of the body. It made sense to me, so I have continued to follow Yvette online for some time and have been to some seminars where she spoke in more detail about these types of things. Even before I had my son, I remember hearing her and some other practitioners speak about childhood development from an academic and a physical perspective and how the two were linked so closely.
What I remembered most from one particular seminar was the nutritionist talking about food additives and how important diet was, then the chiropractor speaking about the detriments of modern aides for children like bumbo seats and jolly jumpers and how they can hinder correct posture and physical development, which then led on to Yvette’s talk about the development of baby and childhood reflexes and movement, and how that can lead to learning problems and trouble at school in later life. I have no qualification or expertise in any of these areas, so I took their advice on board, and have often had those messages play over in my mind when raising my little boy.
So when I heard that Yvette and her team were opening a Gymbaroo in Ballarat, I knew it had to be pretty special for her to take it on. This wasn’t going to be just some chaotic play time with a few toys and kids running wild, it would be specially formulated to work on specific skills and developmental aspects of babies and toddlers, and most importantly it would be FUN. And I haven’t been disappointed.
We initially started when the little man was crawling and sitting, and he just loved it. The bright colours, the singing, dancing and crawling and climbing on the equipment. And now that he is walking he loves it even more. I can really see his true nature come out when we are in the class. He is really quite independent and determined to do his own thing, so some days he is happy to spend the whole session putting balls in the pipe or toss them in the basket hoop or trying to push buttons on things or put objects into other objects, which are not necessarily Gymbaroo specific activities, but just random things toddlers do I guess. But other days he loves to watch the instructors and observe what they are doing and try to copy them with their skipping or hopping and bobbing. I know now, that bobbing is the first step before jumping, so learning to bob to the music or bob up and down on the trampoline is what helps lead to jumping!
Which is something else I have really enjoyed about Gymbaroo. Not only has it been a chance for him to meet other toddlers and learn some social skills and develop his physical skills, it has been educational for me too. Each week we go home with a little flyer about the activities we have done in the class with a full explanation of how they are helping our little people to develop and grow, as well as some tips on how to further them at home. And we also receive an email with the songs to sing at home, and activities we can do during the week to reinforce the learning we do in the class. Everything little thing we do in the class from the songs sung, the actions, the objects they play with, the equipment they climb on, all has a well researched specific purpose.
When our crawler was learning to walk and sit by himself he would often sit in the W position, with his knees and feet turned out underneath him, so I was able to speak with the instructor about that in class, and she suggested some activities we could do in class and at home that would help to correct that seating before it became a problem which could lead to behavioural or educational issues. They really do know their stuff!
The classes are quite structured, so it has been challenging for my little man to get used to that, and I’m not sure we are there just yet, but we will get there. He hasn’t quite grasped that the sound of the bell ringing means that it is time to run to the mat for singing and activities, but he definitely knows that when the parachute is out that he is going to get under it and have lots of fun! It is obvious that some of the kids have been going for longer than us by the way they respond to the bell and they know the drill and manage to stay ON the mat when it is mat time! So no doubt, next term when a bunch of new toddlers enrol they will look at us and see a noticeable difference in how we behave in the class too.
It’s such a great opportunity to meet new people and get out of the mundane day to day routine too. Because, seriously, between work, chores and caring for bub 24/7 there is SO MUCH time to get bored! But it really does break up our week and gets us out of the house for a while and forget about the things that “need doing”, and certainly gives me more confidence to be a bit rough and tumble with James. He loves to do upside downs and get rustled up a bit, and now I know how to do it safely without hurting him and in a way that I know is actually beneficial. It’s funny how kids do these things by nature, yet as grown ups we think we might “break” our child. I have really enjoyed the group and look forward to many more classes to come.
So if you are keen to have a go Gymbaroo Ballarat offer a free trial class, which is awesome! So you can pretty much go any time and try it out and see if you want to enrol in a whole term.
There are different classes for different developmental stages, so non-mobile babies, crawlers, walkers and up, and they have different times available so you can pick whatever class suits you best. Then when you enrol you get a little name bib and a treasure bag with a black and white book of words & pictures. Then each week you bring some show and tell in your treasure bag that matches the weekly theme. Last term we had words from the book, and this term our group has a colour each week. And you’ll also get the weekly information flyers, the Gymbaroo magazine that they publish Australia wide and the songs & activities for at home. The magazine is great actually, it covers a lot of the topics that they touch on in the class, but in much more depth, and I love reading the profiles of the big kids who attended Gymbaroo over the years.
It sounds complicated and scientific, but really, as the parent or carer, you just turn up and have fun on the day and enjoy the play. Don’t they say that the work of a child is to play?