If you want your child to get the right introduction to gymnastics, learn proper skills, and have the kind of positive experience that will make them love the sport, look for a local gymnastics association or recreation program that follows the Gymnastics Canada recommendations for each age.
Following the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model, Gymnastics Canada has developed specific guidelines for children’s gymnastics at the elementary school age levels:
Active start (children aged 0-6)
Gymnastics Canada has guidelines for introductory gymnastics programs where small children can get a head start on developing fundamental movement skills. Through these programs, children should also develop social skills and creative movement with exposure to music and dance. Programs for infants and toddlers aged three and younger may invite participation by the parent or caregiver.
Fun, fitness and fundamental movement patterns (females aged 6-8, males aged 6-9)
Fun, Fitness, and Fundamental Movement Patterns programs should continue to develop the fundamental movements and principles introduced in Active Start, but with more emphasis on quality and refinement of movement. The focus should remain on having fun and away from competing. For some children, this stage of gymnastics training provides fundamental movement skills needed to succeed in other sports. For other children, these programs may also spark the desire to pursue competitive gymnastics.
Building the skills of gymnastics (females aged 7-9, males aged 8-10)
In this stage, children should learn core gymnastics skills and continue to build on the fundamental movement skills that help them to succeed in other sports and areas of life. Winning should not be emphasized in this stage, but opportunities to compete may arise toward the end of it. Children who show a special interest in gymnastics should be directed by their coaches into more advanced programs.
When you look at a gymnastics program for your child, don’t be afraid to ask if they follow the Gymnastics Canada LTAD guidelines [PDF].
You can learn more about quality gymnastics programs at Canadian Sport for Life.