Editor’s note: this story has been edited on March 15, 2017 for clarity.
Q: My daughter is 4, nearly 5. She’s been going to swimming lessons for about a year, which she loves (mostly the free play at the end). We (she and I) are interested in her trying out gymnastics but we might not be able to afford two lots of fees (also she’s starting school soon and I’m conscious of not making her too busy). Her gross motor skills are not her strong point (she’s not delayed but seems to be a bit behind most of her friends), which is why I think gymnastics might be good for her to gain confidence/strength etc. I have been really trying to encourage her to build her skills, which she usually enjoys. If we had to choose between continuing swimming or starting gymnastics, which one would you suggest, or how would you go about deciding?
It’s wonderful to hear that you’re working with your child to help her to develop skills! We completely understand the budgetary and time concerns you’ve expressed.
If you want to focus on her gross motor skill development, we feel the best program for her at this time would be gymnastics. Children develop a wide range of movement skills such as hopping, jumping, balance, falling, landing, running, spinning, starting/stopping, twisting and running, as well as agility, coordination, and speed.
If you are able to, see if you can find a program that will let her try one or two classes before committing to see if she likes it. Swimming is an important life skill, and since you already know that she loves free play time in the water, it would be great to continue to take her swimming and make that an activity you enjoy as a family.
As she gets a little older, you may want to switch her into a multi-sport program which would be a way to expose her to lots of different types of skills and movements.
To give you some further food for thought, here are a couple more articles that might be of interest to you: