Urgent! Please Help! how to deal with gymnastic class? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 05-22-2010, 02:12 PM - Thread Starter
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My younger sister asked me to go with her to the gymnastic class to see her 4 YO little son in action. I was amazed and everything was perfect except that there were 6 kids in the class, one teacher and teacher woudl not clearly and of course out of shere impossibility supervise kids on every contraption as they moved along.

so kids ended up doing their things on themselves and when it came to
the bars they had to jump on the top of one and hang on it for few seconds
on the top supported by their hands and bar being at their waste.

My problem was that kids had to jump too high hitting their tummies each time they tried to jump and hold upwards on their hands on the top the bar and it took few good tries for them.

They would jump from a push in high cube that would move about
every affort to jump and I was looking with fear what if they would
somehow miss the bar and fall hitting the jaw on the bar.

I am just so concerned and so seemed my sister, we spoke aobu this
and I think something should be done or said.

I just don't know how to deal with such a situation and she asked me for advise what woudl I do.

I probably would march just to the teacher and asked her either to skip this part of the routine or excuse my child from it.

she said that this would offend teacher naturally.

I am not sure what else can be done tactfully in such a situation.

is it okay and acceptable to ask teacher for any adjustment in the routine or anything at all?

I don't have a child in any classes of this kind that she would be actually in physical danger of any sort and I just don't know what I woudl do but I would certainly act.

what would you do?

thanks for any help. I feel compelled to help and support my sister with advise but I just don't know any better then speak up the truth and
she is not sure if it is acceptable in that situation.

please help.
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#2 of 21 Old 05-22-2010, 05:34 PM
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If they're only going to waist-high on the lower bar, there's not much potential for a dangerous injury that I can think of. I'm not sure what they were launching themselves off of but they wouldn't generally have that much force behind them if they did bonk their chins on the bars. I hope I haven't misunderstood the move.

If they're casting onto the lower bar where their feet are ON the bar then that's a higher-risk move, but the best protection is a good mat. Remember the bars are fiberglass, not metal.

But parents should always feel that they can raise concerns.

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#3 of 21 Old 05-22-2010, 06:09 PM
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I don't have a lot of personal experience with kids gymnastics, but I do know that typically the routines are set in place for all gyms participating in a league... so that every child who is in that league, no matter what gym they take lessons at, will learn the same routine. Then when they go to competition, there are all judged according to the same routine. The routines are created according to what level the child is at in gymnastics... i.e. all level 1s will learn the same routine and the moves/stunts will be at the level 1 difficulty. Children are individually moved through the levels as they demonstrate mastery of each level's skills.

At age 4, I imagine most kids are at the lowest level and learning to jump to the bar and hold themselves on it seems like a fairly basic gymnastics skill. It may be that when children are learning new skills the teahcer is right there on top of them guiding them through what they are learning to do. And then as they become better at that skill and she becomes more confident in their ability, she hovers less. So maybe this was a skill that they had been working on for a while and she knew that the kids were skilled enough that they didn't need her right there holding her hand. IDK.

You might have your sister start by simply asking how she typically teaches the children the skills that they need to learn. And how does she determine what skills they need to learn when. And if your sister is really worried about lack of basic supervision, maybe she could volunteer to help be a spotter or something.

But in all honesty, I wouldn't be worried too much. As a pp said, the bars are flexible fiberglass...the children are young enough that the amount of force they are "hitting" the bar with isn't going to damamge their internal organs or anything... and since I can't imagine 4 year olds doing anything on the high bar, the bar is low enough that if they fall, it's not going to be a far enough fall to injure themselves on, and since there should be sufficient mats for padding underneath the children, that provides even more protection.

Also, while I am concerned about safety when it comes to risking severe injury (i.e. carseat safety, pool safety)... I personally don't think it's a good idea to shelter children from injury so much that they don't participate in children's sports activities. I mean every time a child plays on the playground, they risk physical injuries like bonking their heads and chins. Every time a child rides a bike, they risk falling and needing stitches. Heck, my brother ended up with stitches in his forehead as a toddler when we were playing croquet together. When I was in second grade, I really wanted to play soccer, but my parents wouldn't let me b/c I might get hurt. When I was in fifth grade they wouldn't let me play basketball on a team with my friends because they thought I was too young and might get hurt. I really think that I missed out on some good opportunities because my parents were afraid of letting me do something that might risk physical injury (albeit minor injury). I just don't think it's wise to keep kids in that kind of a box. But that's jmo... and each child and each family has different needs...

mommy to Christopher 2/29/08
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#4 of 21 Old 05-22-2010, 06:21 PM
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Well, honestly, there IS potential for injury in gymnastics. Everywhere my kids have taken gymnastics classes has required parents to sign a liability waiver, acknowleding that there is potential for injury. What you're describing doesn't sound out of the norm for me.

That said, if your sister is concerned, she should bring it up with the instructor before or after class. It doesn't have to be a big accusatory conversation, just something along the lines of I'm concerned about the safety of the bar work because... and go from there. And instructor worth her salt will be willing to have an open dialog about this kind of issue.

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#5 of 21 Old 05-23-2010, 12:03 AM
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Dd is 5 and sounds like something she does in gymnastics class. I've never felt like things weren't sturdy under her, though. It would be worth asking for clarification.

She could say something like, "I've been watching the kids on the bars and wondered if you could explain to me what they are learning there?" She could press further, "I see they jump off that platform, but they seem to really struggle to get up there, is that common for this age?" Etc.

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#6 of 21 Old 05-23-2010, 01:33 AM
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My 2yo is in gymnastics (mom & tots) and you have to remember- it is gymnastics.

Me (27) DW (28) DD1 (9) DD2 (7) DD 3 (4)
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#7 of 21 Old 05-23-2010, 01:54 AM
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It's gymnastics, there's nothing you can do about it.

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#8 of 21 Old 05-23-2010, 07:29 AM
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If I were the parent, and had such concerns, i would ask the instructor what I could do to help.
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#9 of 21 Old 05-23-2010, 11:56 AM
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I did gymnastics until I was about 16 and it is kind of a dangerous sport. When they get up to the higher levels they'll be doing very risky moves. People can get seriously injured or even die doing gymnastics, that's just part of it.

That said, all of the coaches I ever had were very very careful about safety, especially for young children and beginners. There's a difference between competitive gymnasts taking risks in order to master high level skills and 4 year olds learning the basics on the bars. I don't know of any coaches that would put a 4 year old's safety at risk. If I was a concerned parent I would ask the coach about safety and ask her to explain to me what she does to ensure the kids will be safe. If I felt the coach was taking unnecessary risks with the childrens' safety I'd probably switch gyms, but I wouldn't ask the coach to change routines or say that my child wasn't supposed to participate in one or another part of the routine. If the routines themselves were freaking me out I'd probably pull my kid out of gymnastics altogether because at 4 the routines are honestly pretty tame, they only get more dangerous from that point on.

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#10 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the posts.
Just to clarify..

1 The bar is wood.
2. The kids jump off the foam cube platform that is approximately
one yard high.
3. They jump off it onto the bar that is so high that they
can bearly reach it with fully streatched hands and they jump up onto
it so they end up on straight arms and the bar is at their hip and they
suppose to hold this for few seconds.

4. The floor level is really way down below them (considering the one yard
high platform they jumped off to begin with.

5. The platform moves ever so much after every jump so there is a chance
for a child just to miss a bit and get false jump and end up wherever.. or even hitting a jaw on a bar, head or hang of on hands and tear ligament.. etc.

6. The floor is only covered by mat that is maybe 5 or so inches thick
so I wonder what if.. the kid will just miss judge the force and flip over the
bar ending up head first on the mat from what it is.. approximately 7 or so
feet high as their heads end to be.. that IMHO is a potential for a spine damage upon impact. I might be wrong but I see it as such.

Having said that the kid is not in the class for some major achievements or for a lifetime career or anything like that, it is just A class for him, it is a class that he is taking for the lack of any other oportunities in the area,
and the goal was just to keep him active not to create achieved gymnast.

He is a fraid to do jumps anyways and this might add to the injury opportunity as he might get hesitant.

Lastly the teacher is NOT preasent there with EVERY child doing it as there is at the same time as some kids are doing that particular excersise, the teacher is supervising other kids doing other things..frankly far less dangerous

So no. there is no supervision on this contraption really. And I think that it should be. Child should be assisted and protected on this thing.

We are talking about kids who are 3 - 4 year olds in that class. and none of them seem to have neither skills or coordination or strenght to do so.

As to parent assisting in the class - it is NOT ALLOWED.

Frankly my sis did not sign up for it knowing what she is up to. She saw an intro class that was very gentle and just fun and playful and that is what she wanted for her child. Now it turns into real deal and it seem to much for her. She paid a lot for this class so she wants to solve this somehow peacefully. She is not confrontantional and she did not have in mind anthing aggressive in nature but something tactful and peaceful with soultion in mind that would be safe.

She would be entirely happy with her child skipping this part of the routine
child would not mind. pulling child of a class seem bit stressful for a kid for obvous reasons, and waste of money for her .. leaving things as they are create potential for injury.

I have zero experience with dealings with gymnastics and what is acceptable and what is not that is why I asked forum for kind advise on how to approach a teacher and what EXACTLY to say... I know she is out of words and she is upset and confused as how to act on this one that is why I am trying to help.

I don't know whole lot about gymnastics but it certainly seem beautiful and dangerous sport.. I just got curious about what some of you said how safe it is on this level and actually it does not seem safe for such a little kids at all..
The coordination is just not there untill late 4 's so anything before that is just plain hit or miss..

furthermore.. statiscits show that approximately 100 000 gymnastic kids yearly end up in the ER so that is another food for thought for me.

so this post intention was not to argue about the gymnastics in general..
pros and cons of it as this is not an issue but personal choices every parent has to make for every child but it was rather simple question as to what to do in this particual situation and how to approach teacher without hurting anbyodys feelings.

I would appreciate more advise if anybody could elaborate...
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#11 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 04:54 PM
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Yeah, that doesn't sound very good. And it isn't the environment my dd is in. She is up high sometimes, but there are thick mats under her, extra foam things around her, and the entire gym floor is on springs. When she is to jump and hold herself at her waist, it is usually from floor level. If she is up on something and jumping off, a teacher is almost always there. They flip on a higher bar and are always spotted. In the 3 and 4yo class, they are even spotted on the low bars as the hold the bar with their hands and put their feet on it. So, what you describe in more detail does seem unsafe to me.

I would approach the teacher directly. I would say, "I was watching my ds on the bar exercise, and I just don't feel comfortable with how it looks. Could you explain to me the purpose of it, and what safety precautions have been taken?"

Maybe the teacher can satisfy her. If not, I'd push more. "I understand gymnastics is a dangerous sport, but these are small children. Is it possible to change that exercise to a lower bar? Or possible for my ds to skip that part?" If not, I would express my regret and ask for a prorated refund.

Uncomfortable or not, it's her job to protect her ds. The situation as you describe doesn't sound okay to me. 7 feet up and no spotting at all? Shaky foundations? Poor matting? That doesn't sound like what I would expect from an expensive class.

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#12 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 05:45 PM
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Are you sure about the floor? The gymnastics place where my kids went had a special floor that was cut lower than the mainfloor. The mat a parent could see wasn't the only cushion.

I think the mom has two choices -- keep the kid in the class or quit. That's really it. If the studio isn't safe, opting out of one move is a very short term solution. Either she trusts them with her kid or she doesn't. If she doesn't trust them, then more things will come up -- new challanges, new routines, etc.

BTW, does the place have a competitive team? I was told that the standards for safety are higher for places that compete, so all the kids are safer there, even if they are never interested/able to compete.

but everything has pros and consĀ  shrug.gif

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#13 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 06:47 PM
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I was just talking to a daycare mom today about something similar.

She was saying that they store things under the trampoline. They keep a wheelbarrow stored next to the balance beam. They have a foam pit that has a plastic slide next to it for the kids to slide down, but nobody monitors that, so the kids slide one after another and pile on top of each other. She says she found two tacks pointy side up. One near the shoe cubbies, and one on the small trampoline.

I was thinking yours sounded slightly dangerous, until I heard about hers.
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#14 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 08:31 PM
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I don't know to much about gymnastics, and what you've wrote sounds slightly worrying but not overly so. I'd definetly talk to the owners/operators and see what they say, and go from there. Barring them being totally offended/blowing you/her off I think I'd continue.

And honestly, I help teach a tae kwon do class, and we make people sign wavers too - thats just common sense. I can't imagine there are too many activities that kids (or adults) can participate in these days that don't involve wavers. Some people are just uber sue happy, you know? So, I wouldn't take that as any indicator of risk for an activity, at all...
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#15 of 21 Old 05-24-2010, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by mamadelbosque View Post
And honestly, I help teach a tae kwon do class, and we make people sign wavers too - thats just common sense. I can't imagine there are too many activities that kids (or adults) can participate in these days that don't involve wavers. Some people are just uber sue happy, you know? So, I wouldn't take that as any indicator of risk for an activity, at all...
Neither would I. We have waivers for arts & crafts classes.

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#16 of 21 Old 05-25-2010, 08:44 AM
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What you're describing is a jump to front support.

Most gyms are WAAAAYYYY more concerned about liability than I think is productive. But I'm sure there are some dangerous ones.

I would personally not be concerned. But I'm also thinking that watching my children play when they were 3-4 would have been very concerning for you.

My kids tend to get hurt in the house, not the gym or even usually outside. They will decide to run from one room to another and smack a wall or trip over something (or nothing). They pinch fingers in various springs, or shut their fingers in the door.
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#17 of 21 Old 05-25-2010, 09:34 AM
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I guess that I must be different from everyone else, but I would be concerned. I remember taking beginning gymnastics when I was 6 and there was always someone to spot me on the bar, even though we did very simple stuff.

When my dd was 4, she took a gymnastics class at the local rec center. The teacher was always present with the other children spotting the ones working on the equipment. If it was just the teacher, then the other kids had to stay with the teacher while the teacher worked with each child one-on-one. The other children were not allowed to run around and do their own thing at the other stations. My dd also learned to do the same maneuver on the bar that you mentioned, and she was never allowed to so much get near it without the instructor present, even after she got good with it. Children waiting for their turn with the instructor were not allowed to go on the high balance beam, or anything requiring climbing, unless parents were spotting their children. They were allowed to go on the low balance beam, which was only 6 inches off of the floor.

When the class enrollment was large enough, like ten or more children, the teacher would hire a high school student so that they could divide the class into groups of two, one group for the teacher and one for the high school student.

Had I been in your shoes, I would have pulled my dd from the class. The teacher either does not have enough experience to safely work with a group of such young children, or perhaps the teacher is trying to save money by not hiring enough instructors for the class.

Call me overprotective, but there you have it.
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#18 of 21 Old 05-25-2010, 01:11 PM
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IME, I find that some sports take 'liberties' with personal safety just because 'it's always been done that way'.

I also find that some instructors push limits that aren't developmentally appropriate for individual kids. In that instance, I choose not to have my child in the sport, but that's because I know my child's limits.

eg. My oldest DD had vertigo/irrational fear of heights, slides, etc. when she was young. At 4, she was also in a gym class that was big on bars, slides, etc. etc. It was horrible for her - her fear made her really unbalanced and clumsy. But she still had to participate. I pulled her, not because I didn't want to challenge her, but because it was not right for her and she could have had a bad accident. (She's now been in rhythmic gym for 3 years and excelling...no heights, no apparatus )

So anyway, my point is that not all of the exercises are 'safe'. I was in many activities over the years, and the unsafest ones I'd been in were martial arts (some of the exercises/conditioning were not based on modern theories of physiology but rather tradition), and swimming (horrible swim coaches that made you swim till you drank the pool ugh). Just be cognizant and advocate for your child if you're uncomfortable.
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#19 of 21 Old 05-25-2010, 01:48 PM
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Pull him out of the class. Seriously. It's gymnastics and no, the teacher is not going to be holding the hand of every child on every thing they work on. If you and your sister think it's too dangerous then by all means pull him from the class. But the teacher isn't doing anything wrong. My 7.5 year old daughter has been doing gymnastics for 4 years and is now at Senior Advanced level (which is for 9+ but she's doing that well) and my 4 year old has been doing it for a year. I would have never even thought to be concerned that they are expected to take risks. That kind of goes with the territory.

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#20 of 21 Old 05-25-2010, 03:31 PM
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My son is 5 and in a Level 1 class (1 level above the preschoolers) and he does not do anything on equipment that requires his body off the ground without a spotter, except the low beam.
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#21 of 21 Old 05-26-2010, 07:47 AM
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I am thinking that gymnastics is gymnastics and that is likely what it will be. Also, I am not sure you can get a real idea of any problems from just one class. And if you don't have a child in there yourself, IDK. I would think there is nothing really you can do but to take the child out of the class. Because they are not likely to change anything.

And if what you describe bothers you, I am sure my boys at play would REALLY worry you. Like when my one year old leaps off the back of the sofa or my six year old swings from the tree head only inches from the ground or my nine year old climbs to the top of the huge tree (which he has been doing since he was 18 months old). So, perhaps I am just desensitized to rough and "dangerous" play.

Of course, I have never had a child in gymnastics classes so I can not really say how they should be done.

Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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