The skills listed below are in a general progression order. Start parent and tot classes at Level A as well as all other preschool groups to make sure they understand and have mastered the basics. Keep a checklist for each class. Record and date each skill when you introduce new ones to the class. This is helpful when a substitute teacher is needed. He/she can immediately determine the group level and teach appropriate skills. Also, the checklist is helpful to show parents how their children are progressing.

A few notes on teaching skills:

A back hip pullover seems to be a difficult skill for young students to master. Use a ladder hanging from the high bar for students to walk their feet up. When their tummy is near the low rail, tell them to do a chip-up and kick their feet over. You can also use stacked panel mats or a trapezoid piece to assist the kick over action. When using stacked panel mats, unfold a section to make the kick-off point lower as they get stronger. After these drills, have them do chin-ups for strength development. When teaching the back hip circle insist that the feet stay high on the front support finish position

For front supports, I suggest that you chalk the preschooler’s thighs where you want them to touch the bar (the little ones have a tendency to lay their tummies on the bar). I don’t recommend most classes use chalk. However, there may be some girls and boys in the older classes that might need it. Don’t sacrifice safety for cleanliness.

For casting, tell the children to first hunch like a cat, lock their legs and squeeze their bottom. To keep their legs together, have them hold a foam piece or beanbag between their knees. Tell them to lock their arms and raise their chest high with their necks stretched tall like a giraffe.

A single leg stemrise is a favorite old skill I love to do in beginner classes. It’s like a single leg kip. When teaching them a stemrise, tell them to ride the bar with their thigh and pretend their leg is a piece of bread. There is butter on the top bar. They are going to butter the bread by sliding their extended leg against the top bar and then throwing their tummy over the bar to end in a front support on the high bar.

A drill you can use for glide kips is to have the child hold a bean bag or foam piece between their ankles. Have them try to glide out and drop it into a laundry basket, hoop, or on a chalk circle drawn on the mat. You can put a wedge in front of the set of bars. Have them practice stretching to kick the incline to achieve a glide action and body extension.


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