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Fresh ideas, insights, and tips from

The Little Gym 

 

How do we build balance in children?

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Have you ever wondered why children love swinging, hanging and being upside down?

These activities stimulate the inner ear or the Vestibular system as well as other senses, and it gives children the fun sensations of being dizzy. These feelings provide the vestibular sense with information about motion, head position and spatial orientation and encourage children to seek out these movements on a regular basis.


The vestibular system is one of seven senses (if you were not sure the 6th one is proprioception!).  It is the first sense to develop and it is located in the inner ear.

 

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click here to visit the website

In the ear, there are three semicircular canals that contain little hairs tipped with nerve endings. These hairs are bathed in fluid that moves in reaction to our movement and body position. When our body moves, the fluid inside the inner ear stimulates the little hairs and its nerve endings. This sends information to the brain about our position/movement and what body needs to do to gain, maintain or regain balance.

When we roll, spin or hang upside down, the fluid moves around the canals and the moment we stop moving, it creates the sensation of dizziness.  This is because there is conflicting information being sent to the brain from the inner ear and the muscle-skeleton system and eyes. Here is how it works. Occasionally when we stop rotating our head, momentum keeps the inner ear fluid in motion thus fooling the brain into thinking we are still moving. It takes time for the fluid to settle and match the information being sent to the brain from the other senses.

The reason it is important that children need to move in all directions is so they learn to filter these often conflicting sensations and make sense of them. Once they learn to filter, they can then be more aware and connected to their bodies this can have a large positive effect on balance, coordination and stability.

 

So how do we build the vestibular system?

Simply put, through movement. Children get it from active play, they spin, roll and hang.  Let them explore different ways of moving and in all sorts of directions. Children need to also experience performing activities slowly as well as quickly in order to build a well calibrated vestibular system. When children experience rotating and spinning slowly, the brain can absorb and comprehend physical sensations; "A moving child is a learning child" is a book that suggests 8 seconds per revolution is about right to build the vestibular system. Nevertheless, going fast is also important, it stimulates adrenalin and children learn to regain balance and to stay in control of their bodies.

We can see some children just love to seek out the sensation of being dizzy, whilst others might be more sensitive and not as keen on vestibular activities.  Daily vestibular stimulation is recommended for children- multiple times if possible. Nevertheless, every child is different, every child has their own likes and dislikes and every child develops at their own pace. It is important to let children lead the play and be in charge of how long and how fast they spin, roll or hang for.

Here at The Little Gym Cambridge, we run classes for children from 4 months until 12 years. Children explore and experience all of the different movements and vestibular activities required for building strong balance which helps them to become confident and efficient movers.

It´s not too late to join our classes and experience our fun, warm and nurturing environment.

Click here to see the schedule or call us 01223 324 554 to secure your slot!


Members - It's Bring a Friend Month!

 

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During the month of November, our members can invite friends to join them in their classes - free of charge, as many friends as you would like to invite! Over 700 children have some serious fun in the gym every week, so why not double the dose and invite your nearest and dearest to join* you! How to book:

  • Pick up an invitation from the your instructor 
  • Fill it out and give it to your friend
  • They then call us and book in to join you for a class

If your friends decide to join us for the rest of the term then you both benefit from our 'Refer a Friend' scheme!

 

*Subject to class availability. In the event that a class is full, you are welcome to join another class. Friend should be of a similar age. 


INTRODUCING TUMBLE AND TEA FOR UNDER 3's

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This October, we will be introducing Tumble and Tea time for our members attending classes in the parent and child programme. These monthly sessions are an opportunity for parents to bring their children to come to even more fun at the gym!

On top of all the physical benefits your child will receive, we also understand the need for you as a parent to find a safe place to come and socialise with other parents AND share experiences!

 

Did you know?

Current NHS guidelines suggest that our babies should be allowed to be active and moving throughout the day, every day! With movements like reaching, grasping, pulling, pushing and constantly moving their limbs suggested, where else could be better than The Little Gym?! For our toddlers, guidelines suggest that being physically active for at least 3 hours a day is essential for their development.

        “These 180 minutes can include light activity moving around, rolling and playing, as well as more energetic activity like skipping, hopping, running and jumping. Active play, such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games and ball games, is the best way for this age group to get moving.” For a link to the NHS article click here.

Tumble and Tea gives you so many more opportunities for developmental play and is even more fun that makes your membership at our The Little Gym the best value yet.  We are thrilled to give you more reasons to come to our gym at no extra cost. Must book in advance as spaces are limited. To book call us on 01223 324 554 or email us at cambridge@thelittlegym.eu

Our Tumble and Tea sessions will be held on the following dates:

 

Tuesday 30th October - 2.45pm-3.45pm (4-18 months)

Wednesday 31st October - 11.45pm-12.45pm (19-36 months)

Tuesday 13th November - 2.45pm-3.45pm (19-36 months)

Thursday 15th November - 2.45pm-3.45pm (4-18 months)

Tuesday 11th December- 11.45am-12.45pm (4-18 months)

Wednesday 12th December - 11.45am-12.45pm (19-36 months)


SENSES-The foundations of learning!

 

 

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The world is a fascinating place and in order to learn and make sense of it, we need to engage with it as much as possible with as many senses as possible. All of the seven senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste, the sense of balance and proprioception) are the starting point of any kind of learning.

 

So how does it work? It's all about the SENSORY INTEGRATION!

The senses collect the raw information from our surroundings, send it to the brain, the brain needs to analyse it and organise it, recall and compare previous experiences and memory and send the final message back to the body to create the appropriate response.

Sensory integration aids children’s overall development. Therefore it is absolutely crucial to expose them to a sensory rich diet with a variety of experiences, to provide the stimulation that the brain is hungry for! GO MULTI-SENSORY!

 

Finding the balance

With all the information being provided, the brain has some hard work to do to maintain a balance between too much and too little. That's when you can see children’s preferences and behavioural patterns, when brain is asking for more or less of a certain kind of stimulation/experiences. In other words, sensory integration is one of the pivot points in the formation of individuality.

 

How we can best support it?

Follow the child’s lead
Be open to different ways of exploring
Let's be a sensory explorer
Let children find the learning instead of bringing the learning right in front of them.

The Little Gym Cambridge is a place where multisensory stimulation is guaranteed every single time your little one enters the gym, from bright colours, directive music, countless amount of different textures, shapes, materials to new ways of moving.

 

Calls us 01223 324 554 to book your place and start your kids learning now.


UNLIMITED PARENT AND CHILD CLASSES UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR!

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Parent and child classes at The Little Gym are designed to give children opportunities to do what they are born to do - MOVE!  Our 45 minutes sessions combine movement, gymnastics and exploration to enhance children’s understanding of their bodies, develop confidence and help prepare essential skills for when they start school and they help lay the foundations for learning.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Current government and NHS physical activity guidelines for children under three, recommend that they spend at least 3 hours a day being active. These activities should include high intensity exercises such as jumping, rolling, skipping, climbing and running (click here to refer to the NHS website).

Here at The Little Gym we know that movement is essential for young children's cognitive development alongside the more obvious physical benefits.  Occupational therapists who deal with children who have sensory perception issues refer to this as "The Pyramid of Learning".  Essentially this means that the path to academic learning starts with strong sensory integration, brought about primarily through physical movement. The earlier this process is started, the better!

The more children move, the more their brains are able to respond to stimulation and the stronger the brain-body link becomes. 

 

When you enrol into one of our parent and child classes (10 months and up), you have the opportunity to attend as many classes a week as you would like* at no extra cost!

 

Why not make The Little Gym 1 of your 3 movement activities a day!

 

Call us on 01223 324 554 or click here to secure your space now!

 

*Booking of unlimited classes will end on 19th December 2018. Only valid for age 10 months to 36 months. Only for members enrolled into the Parent and Child programme. Subject to class availability. Parents MUST book into additional classes in advance.


BABY'S FIRST HALLOWEEN PARTY

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Come and join the team at the gym on 25th October to celebrate your baby's first Halloween (ages 4 -12 months). With activities, games and spooky-licious refreshments for all, there is no better way to celebrate the fun! We encourage all parents and babies to come dressed in the best halloween outfits! Best parent and child outfit wins a prize!

The event will be held at our gym on Thursday 25th October 2018 from 10.00am-12pm. Tickets are £5 per family and all proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Meningitis Research Foundation. You can purchase tickets by calling us on 01223 324554 or emailing cambrige@thelittlegym.eu. Spaces are limited so book now to avoid disappointment.


How your child’s body teaches their brain to think

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Have you ever wondered why children never sit still? Have you noticed they have the need to move, fidget, explore, touch and interact with everything around them? Does it feel like they’re not listening and not doing as they are asked? This is exactly what their bodies are made for. Children, particularly in the early years, are not designed to sit down and listen to instructions.They've got to move and explore their environment with their body and all of their 7 senses! Click here to read more about the senses. Although it may not be obvious, they pay attention more than we think as they are curious and interested in their environment but the only way to learn is to experiencing it with their bodies.

 

Think about the brain as a galaxy with billions of stars. The brain cells need to be connected in order to create strong pathways with each other which allows the brain cells to communicate and process information from our senses. Connections are made through movement, new experiences and countless amounts of repetition!

 

Did you know that 90% of the neural pathways in the brain will be set for life during the early years of childhood? These pathways between the brain cells determine not only how children think and learn but also will shape who they become, their passions and interests and are one of the most important foundations in the formation of individuality.

 

Movement is one of the top priorities in the brain during the early years of children's development. The brain will always prioritise movement before thinking until the movement becomes fully automated so the child is able to move/perform the certain task without thinking about it.

 

The Little Gym Cambridge is a place where children explore by moving in different and new ways, take risks, build strong bodies whilst being exposed to a rich multisensory environment.

 

Call us on 01223 324 554 to secure you spot or click here to see our schedule!


The start of the school year is here …

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Your child is going to get quite a big shock when they go to school. Far from being tired, when they start school they will suddenly stop moving for most of the day, and be asked to sit quietly for long stretches.

Here’s the problem… four-year olds aren’t designed to sit quietly. They are still in the developmental stage where their brain is telling them to move, to explore, to experience as much of the world around them as humanly possible. And that is because our little ones learn through moving.
If you want your child to be a better sitter, a better listener, and better at concentrating, you need to get them moving. It’s the way to truly good listeners.

And here’s why…

Our vestibular system – our sixth sense – is responsible for helping us to sit still and listen, be alert, and concentrate. And it works in partnership with our seventh sense, proprioception. Now, if your child has a poorly developed vestibular sense and a challenged proprioceptive sense then they’re going to find school hard! They’ll be the child that fidgets, that can’t stop moving, that can’t focus, can’t be still, and doesn’t hear what the teacher is saying. And the child that gets in trouble for all of those things. And no parent wants that for their child.

But when does all that critical development of the vestibular system and proprioception happen? Right now, just when they’re being told to go to school, sit still, and listen. At exactly the stage in their life when they need to get moving! All of that development happens BEFORE the age of SIX!

And guess what, they’re both developed solely through movement. If the vestibular and proprioceptive senses are developed through movement, and all that critical development happens before the age of 6 years, then how on earth can our little ones get what they need from Pre-School and Reception alone?

The Simple Answer -- They Need Movement After School!

Your school-age child needs to get moving for 3 hours a day and even with the best of intentions our education system just can’t provide them with that opportunity. Only modern, savvy parents that are passionate about their children’s development can.

And not just any movement will do. To optimise their development, children need to take physical risks, regularly try a variety of new physical challenges for the first time, stretch their bodies in new directions, reach new heights, and problem solve.
And according to Gill Jane, Deputy Director of Early Years at OFSTED, there is a tension between physical activity and taking risks, and as a parent, balancing risk is a hard thing to do. OFSTED would like early years practitioners to challenge children and take such risks in order to make them more physically active.

Helping Your Children to Learn Through Movement and Safe Risks
Don’t stop your children’s activities when they go to school. They won’t be too tired. They’ll need the outlet. And they need to keep moving. Penning them into a room for most of the day, stopping them from moving, and then removing the activities they love doesn’t do our beautiful children justice.

And just like us, they need to de-stress after a long day at school! Just like we need to de-stress after a long day at work. Why do you think adult gyms do such a roaring trade in the evening! School has the same effect on our children, let’s help them get that stress out of their system and sleep better at night.

 

We just started our new semester and there are still a few spaces left in our classes!
Click here to check you our schedule or call us on 01223 324 554 to secure your space before it’s gone!


INTRODUCING PRACTICE TIME FOR MEMBERS!

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Repetition is key for all learning - whether it is learning to walk, to cartwheel or learning to read! For children, repetition of movements help them to get more connected to their bodies and helps automate movements that are necessary in order to proceed to more 'cognitive' types of learning. 

With this in mind, we will be introducing PRACTICE TIME this semester for our members already enrolled into the pre-school and grade school programmes. Practice Time is a structured and supervised period to practice the essential gymnastics skills they’re learning in class each week. The children will explore on the equipment, practice the skills they learned and participate in other group activities. 

These sessions will be running during school holidays for children aged 3-12yrs (sessions will be age specific) - with our first sessions happening this October half term. More information to follow, so keep an eye on this space!


2018/19 DATES FOR THE DIARY

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We are super excited for all the fun planned for the upcoming semester and we want to make sure you know what is coming up! Please see below important dates for the diary:

 

  • Monday 3rd September - start of our Serious Fun Semester
  • Monday 22nd October-Sunday 29th - Half term - no classes 
  • Monday 22nd October-Friday 27th  - Half Term Holiday Camps (details to follow)
  • Monday 29th October-Sunday 4th November - HALLOWEEN WOW WEEK (come dressed up in your spookiest costumes!)
  • Monday 10th December-Sunday 16th December - XMAS WOW WEEK (get those Christmas jumpers ready!)
  • Thursday 20th December-Wednesday 2nd January 2019 -Closed for Xmas Holidays - no classes
  • Thursday 3rd January 2019 - Semester resumes 
  • Monday 4th February - Sunday 10th February - Celebration Week (invite the family to our 'Greatest Show on Earth') and last week of the semester

 

If you are going to miss any of your classes during the semester, then please make sure you let one of the team know, so we cancel your class and help you arrange a make up session. All cancelled sessions must be made up by 10th February 2019. Only sessions that have been cancelled in advance can be made up.


UNLIMITED PARENT AND CHILD CLASSES UNTIL 31st OCTOBER!

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Parent and child classes at The Little Gym are designed to give children opportunities to do what they are born to do - MOVE!  Our 45 minutes sessions combine movement, gymnastics and exploration to enhance children’s understanding of their bodies, develop confidence and help prepare essential skills for when they start school and they help lay the foundations for learning.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Current government and NHS physical activity guidelines for children under three, recommend that they spend at least 3 hours a day being active. These activities should include high intensity exercises such as jumping, rolling, skipping, climbing and running (click here to refer to the NHS website).

Here at The Little Gym we know that movement is essential for young children's cognitive development alongside the more obvious physical benefits.  Occupational therapists who deal with children who have sensory perception issues refer to this as "The Pyramid of Learning".  Essentially this means that the path to academic learning starts with strong sensory integration, brought about primarily through physical movement. The earlier this process is started, the better!

The more children move, the more their brains are able to respond to stimulation and the stronger the brain-body link becomes. 

 

When you enrol into one of our parent and child classes (10 months and up), you have the opportunity to attend as many classes a week as you would like* at no extra cost!

 

Why not make The Little Gym 1 of your 3 movement activities a day!

 

Call us on 01223 324 554 or click here to secure your space now!

 

*Booking of unlimited classes will end on 28th October 2018.  Enrolment must take place by 30th September. Only valid for age 10 months to 36 months. Only for members enrolled into the Parent and Child programme. Subject to class availability. Parents MUST book into additional classes in advance.


Summer camps are on!

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Schools are already on summer holidays but The Little Gym Cambridge is always on! We are on your side and will keep your children busy, moving and having tons of fun whilst you work, GO shopping or have a coffee with a friend!

 

We run our 3-hour OFSTED registered holiday camps Monday* to Friday for the 6 weeks of summer (23rd July - 1st September).

*we will be closed on Monday 27th August for the bank holiday.

 

The Adventure Camps (3-8 years old) are fun, imaginative sessions which are specifically designed to help children build their independence and confidence. At the same time our adventurers learn fundamental gymnastics skills in the imaginative world of pirates, outer space or circus escapades.

 

Here is the schedule:

Monday - Friday 9:30-12:30 pm

 

CAPTAIN CARTWHEEL’S PIRATE SHIP              23rd - 27th July

THE RACE TO OUTER SPACE!                           30th July - 3rd August

THE LITTLE GYM SUMMER GAMES                   6th - 10th August

THE SEARCH FOR RAINBOW CASTLE              13th - 17th August

BALANCING BERTIE’S BIG TOP ADVENTURE! 20th - 24th August

THE SUPER GROWN-UPS                                  28th - 31st August

 

The Skill Thrill Holiday Camps (5-12 years old) are a great opportunity to give 5-12 years old a fun filled gymnastics afternoon experience. Whether your child is a complete beginner or experienced gymnast, our instructors will tailor the skills and progressions to suit the needs of your child.

Children will be working on fun skills like cartwheels, handstands as well as flying rotational skills. They will be enhancing and improving any skills they may have in their repertoire.

 

Here is the schedule:

Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:30-4:30 pm

 

CRAZY CARTWHEELS AND AMAZING AERIALS  24th and 26th July

HAPPY HANDSPRINGS!                                         31st July and 2nd August

ROCKIN’ AND ROLLIN’                                            7th and 9th August

VA-VA VAULTING                                                     14th and 16th August

BALANCING BONANZA                                           21st and 23rd August

HANDSTANDING HEROES                                     28th and 30th August

 

Click here to request your camp or call us on 01223 324 554 to secure your slot.


Come and explore our ''Wild West Warrior Quest' camp extravaganza

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Easter holidays are rapidly approaching and you might be wondering about how to keep your children busy!

The Little Gym Cambridge runs 3-hour long OFSTED approved Adventure Camps (3-8 years) and Skill Thrill Gymnastic Camps (5-12 years).
Our adventure holiday camps are fun, imaginative sessions which are specifically designed to help children build their independence and confidence.  At the same time our adventurers learn fundamental gymnastics skills in the world of our ''Wild West Warrior Quest'.  In these sessions our 3-8 year olds are going to be training as cowboys and cowgirls, trying to find the treasure! Come and Join us in the heat of the wild west and get ready for some adventure! YEEEE HAAAA!!!

Our Skill Thrill camps are a great opportunity to give 5-12 year olds a fun filled gymnastics experience.  Whether your child is a complete beginner or experienced gymnast,  our instructors will tailor the skills and progressions to suit the needs of your child.  Children will be working on fun skills like cartwheels, handstands and some flying front tucks as well as enhancing and improving any skills they may already have in their repertoire.

Drop your camper at the gym and come back three hours later to pick them up.
Spaces are filling up fast, click here to see the schedule and call us on 01223 324 554 to secure your spaces!


Enhancing linguistic skills through movement

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We are starting very exciting learning unit in our Parent and child and Pre-school programmes this week which is all about language development! You might be wondering how a gymnastics class can enhance children’s language skills.

 

We are taking advantage of the mind-body link and are getting creative over the next four weeks to help develop linguistic skills. Studies show when children are exposed to multi-sensory experiences, the learning is much more effective and they are more likely to retain information. Multi-sensory means that more parts of the brain are being stimulated at once.

 

The Little Gym classes are all about multi-sensory learning.  Just to give you an idea of an activity the children will be doing this week: the children start by hearing the alphabet through directive music, they are then encouraged to repeat the alphabet themselves.   The second part of the activity is then for the children to look at different letter shapes taped on the mat and they are then given the opportunity to create the letter shapes with their own bodies- great problem-solving. Boom!  Four senses used at once! And on top of that, it is fun learning and when we enjoy the learning process, we are motivated to do more!

 

Click here to find out more about joining our classes


What am I supposed to do with my baby?

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Welcoming a newborn into the world is truly miraculous time. It is exciting as well as challenging, it literally turns your world upside down (of course in the most positive way) and on top of that, there is not a manual on what you are supposed to do! It does not matter how many parenting books you have read, there is so much to learn and when it comes to the crunch much of this learning happens through trial and error.  
Nowadays, there is such a large range of activities and classes on offer, it is difficult to sift through the options and decide what is best for your baby in order to best support his or her development.
Studies indicate that movement feeds the brain and lays the foundation for learning. It is important to encourage movement in early months of baby's’  life to help them reach developmental milestones. Click here to find out more about the benefits of early movement.

The Little Gym Cambridge offers classes for children as young as 4 months.
The Bugs class (4-10 months) is a 45 minute long parent and child session which is designed to support babies’ overall development through the use of age appropriate developmental gymnastics. Children are exposed to the rich multi-sensory environment.  This allows them to learn and helps them to gain a better understanding of the world around them. More importantly, though they explore the gym environment with their senses as well as the bodies.
Everyone learns through processing sensory inputs. Our sensory system picks up information from surroundings, sends it to the nervous system.  This processes the information and generates an appropriate response/reaction. You may know about the 5 common senses; touch, smell, hearing, taste, and sight. But did you know about the other two hidden senses? The sense of balance (the vestibular system) and proprioception (our sense of where our bodies are in space)? Those two senses play an absolutely crucial role in our lives and without them, we would not be able to function.
You may well be wondering how can we develop these? Through MOVEMENT and the key is starting in the early months of a baby’s life.

This is when The Little Gym comes in,  the skills Bugs do at The Little Gym, such as rotational activities on the floor, moving across inclined mats as well as the balancing beam, weight bearing skills on legs and arms and gripping/pulling with the arms all feed into the child’s development.

 

Along with the sensory stimulation, children develop much needed strength which aids them greatly in reaching milestones.  These include rolling, sitting up, crawling and so on.
The lovely thing about the Bugs classes is that the learning is not only for children but also for you, the parent. Spending time in the gym with your child teaches you about different areas of child developmental and the theory as to why we do the specific activities; you can practice skills learnt at the gym at home and gain confidence in how to support your baby safely and you will definitely enhance the bond between you and your child.

 

Get in touch for more information about our Bugs class (4-10 months) running every Wednesday 2.45-3.30pm.

Call us if you have any questions and to book your space.


Support Teacher Martina

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4th March 2018 - Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon

Ever since teacher Martina moved to Cambridge, she has wanted to run the Saucony Cambridge Half but until this year she couldn’t get a slot. However, last year was a lucky one for her and now she finally has a place. Knowing she needs to train hard and doing training miles through the winter months is a challenging prospect- she is needing extra motivation.

Martina has decided to raise awareness and money for Meningitis Research Foundation as this is a cause close to the hearts of her and The Little Gym Cambridge.
Read Martina's story here. Any sponsorship is greatly appreciated - help to spread the word- share- donate. We can make a difference...

Thank you


How does music enhance cognitive development?

 

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We have been talking a lot about the various benefits that music has on children’s global development in our previous blog posts.  Let’s move on to the effect music has on cognitive development.  When we speak about cognitive development, we mean the thinking processes; problem-solving, decision making, memory and language learning etc.
We are now going to look more closely into how music helps with prolonging attention span, aid with following directions and instructions and improve listening skills.

If you are a parent, teacher or you have spent any time around children, you are probably aware of how tricky it can be for kids to follow simple instructions or even for them to concentrate on any task for more than a few minutes.
First of all, factors like language and amount of instructions given, play a big role in successfully initiating a productive activity with children.  Nevertheless, if you use action songs (putting toys away, putting shoes on) it makes the task more fun and with repetition often mundane tasks can become an embedded routine for younger children.  This is why The Little Gym’s curriculum goes big on songs and jingles in parent and child and preschool classes.  Through repetition and consistency, children learn over time to follow directions and instructions from helping to put toys away, lining up to change stations and so much more. Most importantly, children often don’t even realise they are learning, they just simply sing the jingle with the teachers and act out what jingle is about- so much fun!
Moreover, music and singing have a great effect on children’s attention span (the length of time for which a person can concentrate), music increases the time that children can pay attention for.


Upbeat music with positive lyrics can also serve as a source of motivation as it often conveys an inspirational/educational message.  All of The Little Gym’s songs used in classes have an educational theme, this ranges from teaching children about recycling and environment, accepting and loving yourself to being kind to each other. Alternatively, creative movement challenges are used to tap into the children’s imagination.  They help to enhance children’s visualisation and physical development but mainly it greatly improves children’s listening skills as they focus their listening on an ‘invisible’ source of a sound and they are challenged to act it out with their bodies- a fantastic MIND-BODY workout!

Call us to book in and give your child this fun learning experience.  Make the most of our Early bird offer promotion for next semester (starting the 19th February).


The link between music and language development

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It is generally known that music has a huge impact on children’s development, particularly their language development. Let’s break it down and look little closely on what’s going on behind the scenes.

Music is a powerful tool for learning as it has it both elements, enjoyment and learning. It is simply more fun to sing out phrases and sentences rather than monotonously repeat them.
Musical experience plays an important role in expanding vocabulary as children learn to understand different sounds, how they blend them together and eventually it helps them with putting it all together and creating meaningful phrases.  Music also enhancing language through rhymes and songs, helping with understanding words in context. The beauty of rhymes is the simplicity of the language being used and the repetition, as for any learning- repetition is the key.

Singing and musical experience is a great way to develop auditory discrimination, the ability to distinguish between different sounds, as that is one of the first components of language. In addition, some researchers show that musicians are more adept at processing speech where there is a large amount of background noise.

Lastly, when music is combined with movement it creates a wonderful multi sensory experience where the majority of the brain is stimulated and therefore children are more likely to remember and retain the information.

Musical experience plays a fundamental role in The Little Gym’ s curriculum. We use songs, chants and jingles in every single class to enhance children's overall development. Over the next three weeks we have a specific focus on music in our parent and child and pre-school programmes.
Click here to find out more about our classes and secure your space in the new term (starting 19th February) and take advantage of the early bird booking offer.

 


How music affects children's development

 

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Music plays a huge role in our lives, we interact with music on a daily basis. Either we hear music in the background on radios, tv adverts and films or we just play our favourite tunes because we enjoy hearing them.
Music is a powerful tool for learning and for children's development. When you think about it, there is probably not a child in the world who doesn’t like listening to music. Music is a universal language that everyone can get something out of.  Even music in a language that the listener does not understand can spark emotion and imagination.

The benefits of listening to music and making music are countless. Let’s have a look how broad the spectrum is.

Social development: music is a universal language which brings people together. It creates a bond and a sense of togetherness. In fact, the types of songs that have a real effect on your body, the ones that give you shivers down your spine or make your heart race, have been linked with the "chill response" which boosts levels of the hormone oxytocin.  This is linked to feeling connected and loving towards others.

Emotional stimulation: we all have songs that calm us down, make us feel relaxed or on the other hand, increases our energy levels and lift our mood up. Why is it that there are so many tunes which take us back to the moment when we heard the song for the first time? It can be either a first date, your wedding day or even a difficult time in the past.  When we hear the song again we are instantly transported back in time. This is simply because songs stimulate specific areas of the brain, particularly the limbic system which governs emotions and feelings.

Physical development: music promotes movement.  Music often produces a motor response in us, this could be tapping the beat, nodding our head, or swaying side to side. The same goes for children. Even babies and who cannot yet walk will respond to music with a physical reaction (moving hands, kicking legs or bending legs as though they want to jump). Children love music and they love to move to music. Moving to the rhythm of music is a great way to explore motor patterns, this helps improve coordination, agility and balance, as well as building strength.

Music also has a positive effect on listening skills and language development. It helps with following instructions, as well as improving attention span. Check out our blog in coming weeks to learn more about that!

Musical experience plays a fundamental role in The Little Gym’s curriculum. We use songs, chants and jingles in every class to enhance children's overall development. Over the next three weeks, there is a specific focus on music in our parent and child and preschool programmes.

Click here to find out more about our classes and secure your space, taking advantage of our early bird offer to join Semester 2 (Starting 19th February).


The Power of Imagination and Roleplay

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It is amazing to see children being so creative and imaginative. They can turn a wooden stick into a magic wand or a tea towel into a superhero cape.  The lovely thing about imaginative play is there is no space for logic or reality.

 

Have you ever wondered why children are often drawn to imaginative play and make believe? There are actually countless benefits, so let me point some of them out.

Confidence booster: When children transform themselves into the character, they have to think and act as the character would and children may truly surprise themselves with their new abilities. For instance, they might be worried to about how to overcome an obstacle but Batman would never think twice and would just go for it.  Moving and learning activities really help to develop the confidence needed to try new things.  This in turn leads to better comprehension of what works and what does not for that child.

Exploring new ways of moving: moving in new and challenging ways is crucial for building children´s coordination, stability as well as strength. It allows them to think on their feet and adapt to new scenarios.  And what are the most beneficial moments in child's day? It is those moments which challenge the mind and body with things they have never experienced before.

Emotional development: children have the opportunity to safely examine the edge of their emotional spectrum and put different emotions into an action.  This all happens at the same time as dealing with unpredictability.  Learning about different roles means that children have to be able to put themselves in other people's shoes.  This is the foundation for developing the crucial life skill, empathy.

Social development: pretend play in a group setting lays lots of challenges in terms of teamwork, turn taking (sometimes you might have to be the baddie not just the goodie!) and learning about competition- victory as well as defeat!

Cognitive development: role play has huge benefits on language and communication development as well as requiring some strategic planning, problem-solving and allowing children to increase their independence in terms of decision making.

 

How to get involved?

There is one simple rule for this game, just go with it. Let your hair down, forget the logic and go along with your child's imaginative plan.

 

The classes for pre-schoolers at The Little Gym Cambridge last 50-60 minutes,  the curriculum is created by experts on child development and it has been developing for over 40 years now. The classes consist of imaginative and creative lesson plans where each week children experience new scenarios which support their development.  Programmes at The Little Gym are divided by age and tailored towards the individual child’s development.  Activities are much more than just physical and this helps children to develop their cognitive and emotional skills.

 

Check out our schedule here and call us on 01223 324 554 to secure your space and be part of the Serious Fun.


Santa's Workshop has arrived at The Little Gym Cambridge

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Christmas is approaching and we are all getting excited about the festive period ahead. This week will be truly magical here at The Little Gym Cambridge.

Santa’s workshop has arrived at The Little Gym Cambridge and Santa’s helpers have planned some amazing activities in the gym for our gymnasts. And to make it even more special for our families, we will have The Greedy Catering Company selling some yummy festive food throughout week.

 

Greedy Catering Company is owned and run by mum of two, Justine Kerr who also happens to be a Michelin star chef. Check out her Facebook page here

 

Put on your Christmas jumper and and coe join us at The Little Gym Cambridge to celebrate the festive period!


How movement helps children with understanding directional concepts?


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Think about directionality like a tour guide to the understanding of 3-dimensional world. In order for children to orientate themselves and understand the 3D world, they need to first understand spatial concepts on their own bodies and what is the best and most efficient way to learn our personal orientation? It is through movement of course!


Children´s understanding of orientation rapidly improves as soon as they start moving and exploring their surroundings.  When children actively and personally engage with their environment they learn how it relates to themselves and that is the first step to learn and comprehend spatial concepts. For instance, children need to know first, where is the “top”, “bottom” or “middle” of their bodies before they can understand where these spatial terms are when unrelated to their bodies, such as the “top” of the table, the “middle” of the stick or “bottom” of the tower.

Once children understand their personal orientation and how they relate to their surroundings, then they can grasp the abstract concept of how things unrelated to them relate to each other. The challenging part is that directional concepts require context to decide their immediate meaning and context comes from experience. Therefore, children need plenty of variety in experience as well as repetition.  This is the key to learning.

 


How can we enhance children's learning about space?

We can help children understand space by narrating the spatial terms which they experience during play.  Such as, “you are going THROUGH the tunnel, OVER the block, UNDER the table”.  If there are multiple ways to overcome the obstacle, by asking questions like “which way will you go?”  You suggest that there is more than one way and that creates a wonderful brain boost activity for problem-solving and decision making.



What is the mind-body link?

Let's look at brain development and the connection with movement in a very simple way. There are different parts and centers of the brain and each of them has different role. The early years are the most critical for brain development, experts suggest that 90% of the neural connection are in place by the age of 5 and the neural connections happen through movement and new experiences. The more children move, the more they experience and the more the brain is stimulated.





Brain Basics

The brain develops from bottom up. Starting with the brain stem (survival) continues through senses and sensory stimulation, the Cerebellum (MOVING), the Limbic system (emotions) and lastly the Cortex (THINKING).

We know that any learning at any age is based on prior knowledge- from unknown to the known. When children learn about the world surrounding them, they need to experience it with their bodies, engaging multiple senses to create new experience and understanding- moving comes before thinking.

So learning directions and spatial terms by sitting down and listening “here is top and there is under” will not be as efficient as if the learner moves through the environment themselves.  Children have to figure out which way to go, how to get through the tunnel and what it feels like to be inside the tunnel. Multiple sense stimulated at once creates a multisensory activity and it is proven that the learned information is more likely to be retained.


The beauty of our Parent and Child classes at The Little Gym is that children have the freedom to explore the multi-sensory environment at their own pace, they can satisfy their curiosity and therefore feed the brain with new experiences in the constantly changing environment. During our classes, children move and feel their bodies in all directions and on different planes of movement, subsequently, they enhance their understanding of spatial orientation and directionality.  The parent or carer coming with their child has the priceless opportunity to witness children´s growth and rapid development whilst they have fun together.


Call us on 01223 324 554  to secure your space at The Little Gym Cambridge.  Save over 10% with our Pre Christmas Offer for Parent and Child classes (10-36 months).




Baby's First Christmas Party 11th December 2017!


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Come and join the team at the gym on 11th December to celebrate your baby's first Christmas (ages 4 -12 months). With activities, games and festive refreshments for all, there is no better way to kick off the festive fun! We encourage all parents and babies to come dressed in the Christmas outfits! There will also be a raffle with a chance to win a free semester of classes!

The event will be held at our gym on Monday 11th December 2017 from 10.30am-12pm. Tickets are £5 per family and all proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Meningitis Research Foundation. You can purchase tickets by calling us on 01223 324554. Spaces are limited so book now to avoid disappointment.

How children´s feet develop?

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Children's feet and barefooting

Did you know that when children reach their first birthday, their feet are approximately half of their adult size?  There is rapid development of the feet in the first years of a child’s life.

When children are born, their feet have 22 partially developed bones laced with muscles, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels.  By the time they approach adulthood their feet will be made of 26 bones and ossification (full strengthening) of the bones will be completed at around 18-20 years. The foot is one of the most complicated parts of the body to develop.

How children's feet actually develop?

Simply said, through movement and ideally being barefoot as much of the time as possible. Movement is a truly powerful tool for building strong feet that support a human’s body weight. From the moment we stand for the first time our feet are responsible for carrying our bodies for the rest of our lives.

Being barefoot helps children build the strength, muscle tone, coordination and developes the grasping action of toes. Also, it helps with bone growth and developing bone density through constant direct weight bearing. Children´s feet are very sensitive to tactile stimulation. Experiencing different textures, materials, temperature, shapes etc. through feet provides priceless learning about environment and foot strengthening at the same time.

Being barefoot also plays a huge role in building children's confidence with movement. Children can feel different surfaces directly with their feet and learn how to interpret and adapt to the intricacies of even the most challenging terrain.

It is understandable that sometimes it can be tricky to let children run around barefoot.  It is suggested to ere towards looser footwear so children´s feet are not too restricted and ideally shoes should have less support in the soles.  This is so the shoe does not take away from the foot´s responsibility to support the body. Click here to find some tips for choosing toddlers´ first shoes.


How about the arch?

The support the arch provides is probably the most important function in our feet.  It bears our weight, it helps to absorb all of the stresses we put on our feet; from the first step, skip, jump or non-stop running around.  Feet are designed to have an arch which means that weak or collapsing arches can negatively affect the biomechanics of the whole body.  Having the freedom to move whilst being barefoot plays vital part in developing strong arches that support our bodies at all times.

Classes at The Little Gym Cambridge run from 45 - 60 minutes where children can move freely and explore each week's different fun challenges whilst being barefoot. 

Click here to book your intro visit.

How do we build balance in children?

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Have you ever wondered why children love swinging, hanging and being upside down?

These activities stimulate the inner ear or the Vestibular system as well as other senses, and it gives children the fun sensations of being dizzy. These feelings provide the vestibular sense with information about motion, head position and spatial orientation and encourage children to seek out these movements on a regular basis.
The vestibular system is one of seven senses (if you were not sure the 6th one is proprioception!).  It is the first sense to develop and it is located in the inner ear.

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In the ear, there are three semicircular canals that contain little hairs tipped with nerve endings. These hairs are bathed in fluid that moves in reaction to our movement and body position. When our body moves, the fluid inside the inner ear stimulates the little hairs and its nerve endings. This sends information to the brain about our position/movement and what body needs to do to gain, maintain or regain balance.

When we roll, spin or hang upside down, the fluid moves around the canals and the moment we stop moving, it creates the sensation of dizziness.  This is because there is conflicting information being sent to the brain from the inner ear and the muscle-skeleton system and eyes. Here is how it works. Occasionally when we stop rotating our head, momentum keeps the inner ear fluid in motion thus fooling the brain into thinking we are still moving. It takes time for the fluid to settle and match the information being sent to the brain from the other senses.

The reason it is important that children need to move in all directions is so they learn to filter these often conflicting sensations and make sense of them. Once they learn to filter, they can then be more aware and connected to their bodies this can have a large positive effect on balance, coordination and stability.


So how do we build the vestibular system?

Simply put, through movement. Children get it from active play, they spin, roll and hang.  Let them explore different ways of moving and in all sorts of directions. Children need to also experience performing activities slowly as well as quickly in order to build a well calibrated vestibular system. When children experience rotating and spinning slowly, the brain can absorb and comprehend physical sensations; "A moving child is a learning child" is a book that suggests 8 seconds per revolution is about right to build the vestibular system. Nevertheless, going fast is also important, it stimulates adrenalin and children learn to regain balance and to stay in control of their bodies.

We can see some children just love to seek out the sensation of being dizzy, whilst others might be more sensitive and not as keen on vestibular activities.  Daily vestibular stimulation is recommended for children- multiple times if possible. Nevertheless, every child is different, every child has their own likes and dislikes and every child develops at their own pace. It is important to let children lead the play and be in charge of how long and how fast they spin, roll or hang for.

Here at The Little Gym Cambridge, we run classes for children from 4 months until 12 years. Children explore and experience all of the different movements and vestibular activities required for building strong balance which helps them to become confident and efficient movers.

It´s not too late to join our classes and experience our fun, warm and nurturing environment.

Click here to book your intro visit at The Little Gym Cambridge