Why “smart Gyms” Raise the smartness Factor
The more a child tumbles, climbs, creeps and crawls, the more densely wired the brain becomes for academic success. Movement is the architect of a child’s brain. The two hemispheres of the brain are designed to constantly communicate with one another. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa. Bilateral activities, common to all gymnastics programs, require both sides of the body to work together and separately. Coordinated movement patterns create efficiency in the brain. Efficient pathways create fluent readers who complete reading tasks with ease. For example, during reading, the left hemisphere attends to letters and the sequence of words, while the right side of the brain focuses on comprehending what is read. Reading fluency depends on an intimate conversation between the two hemispheres of the brain– a clear signal, just like a smart phone.
Bouncing on the trampoline, tumbling down a mat, swinging from the bars – all of these activities help wire the brain and integrate the vestibular system. Located in the inner ear, the vestibular system is intricately connected with the brain. Its job is to make sense of all perceived sensory information from the environment and tell us where our bodies are in space. Like the integrative technology of a smart phone, the vestibular system integrates vision, hearing, balance, and skin sensations. If children have poor sensory processing skills, they may have a difficult time learning gymnastics skills or regulating behavior. Weaknesses observed in gymnastics classes may lead to discovering that the child is struggling in school as well.
The No Child Left Behind legislation prompts parents to seek programs that help children meet the mandated academic standards expected of today’s youth. Without your assistance, parents may overlook your gym as a valuable resource. You can help them see the real value of gymnastics programs by linking these programs to academic benefits, which is the focus created by No Child Left Behind and standards-based education.
Duplicate this chart and hand it to every parent who enters your “smart gym.” When parents are cutting corners and deciding what extracurricular activities stay in their budgets, educating families is the key to ensuring your program remains when others may go. Dr. John Ratey calls exercise “Miracle-Gro” for the brain. Adding classes with a smart twist can also be ‘Miracle-Gro” for your business.
How Gym Owners Are Expanding
Marcia Carter, director of the Feather River Recreation Activity Center and former owner of Oroville Gymnastics Learning and Sports Academy, began a program specifically designed to help children be more successful in gymnastics classes and at school. Meeting the needs of the families in her community, she offers specialized classes to build the foundational skills critical for emotional and academic success.
According to local educators, during the past four years they’ve noticed that the kindergarten children from Carter’s preschool program achieve reading goals sooner and with more ease than ever seen before. The children from this particular program are always well-prepared for high state standards expected to be learned by kindergartners. The local educators gave their congratulations for all Carter has done to help kindergarten students achieve these high expectations.
The Feather River Recreation Activity Center is expanding its classes to include Boomers, capitalizing on the need for more services for active seniors while bringing in increased revenue for the facility. Dr. Nancy Bates, owner of Gym Magic Sports Center and Preschool in Las Cruces, N.M., offers classes focusing on building a solid foundation for learning. “We emphasize education and learning. The response from our staff, parents, has been incredibly positive.”
GymMagic created a program, titled Magical Moves (for 6 months to 3 years of age), which has led to partnerships with many early intervention groups. The response has been so positive that the early intervention groups have had to rotate families in and out of Gym Magic’s program because so many families want to participate.
Look for Dr. Nancy Bates’ article in next month’s Technique magazine that explains how she began a successful tutoring program by networking with schools and integrating gymnastics with after-school reading tutoring. She’ll discuss how the program was funded through federal grant money. It’s a must read for all gym owners looking for ways to increase revenue and fund new programs.
Article Produced by: Debra Em Wilson, Reading Specialist, & Marcia Carter, Gym Owner/Coach