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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 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!