Beam Fears

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Shan126

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May 25, 2009
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I recently started teaching some preschool classes and cannot believe how many kids are afraid of the high beam and even the medium height one. I want them to be exposed to it since I have kids in my older classes who are still scared, having never been exposed as a young gymnast. What do you do to have them get over this fear.. is it good to make them use it or just give in and let them use only the floor beam?
 
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LittleLady

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Feb 3, 2009
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Vermont
Overcoming fear is a normal part of gymnastics. When I was teaching preschool kids, there were a few that were so afraid of being on a high beam that they froze. I encouraged them by explaining to them that the beam is not going to move on them. I told them it will always be right where it is. One child was so afraid of walking backward that she would cry. I held her hand and had my arm around her waist. I told her to put her foot right behind the other one because the beam will be there. I kept stressing the point that the beam is not going to disappear or move on her. After a few days, she was walking backwards on her own and the smile on her face after doing it was worth all the patience and effort.
Work with kids on a floor beam telling them the same thing to build their confidence. Hold their hand and waist at first on the high beam. Eventually, they will over come their fears. The ones that don't will soon realize gymnastics may not be the sport for them. It's not something that can be forced. I hope this advice helps.
 

Aussie_coach

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It is quite normal for kids of this age to be afraid of the beam. They are very young and it wans't so long ago they learned to do things like walk up and down stairs. They don't have the coordination of an older child or adult yet so falling off is a real possibility just the way they fall over to often. It's also very high for them, let them stand next to it and see that it generally comes up to their head or even higher. You as an adult may be more wary of doing things on it is it came above your head height.

Definatly use the beam, it is great to get them used to it at this early point but always allow them to hold your hand if thats what they need. If they are going on a full height beam it is essential they hold your hand at this age anyway.

Use lots of encouragement. Perhaps give a special award the first time they go across. Try to make it fun and do different games up there.
 

ginnymac

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Jun 26, 2008
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Make the higher beams wider at first. Put 2 next to each other or use the wide training pads when walking across the beams. Let them get used to being up high before they are put on something both high and narrow.:)

You could also make the distance that they have to walk up high smaller. Use steps or inclines etc...so that they don't have to actually walk from one end of the beam to the other. That's a lot of steps for little preschooler feet!
 
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gymnut1

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How about starting with a circuit that involves climbing over the high beam (mats under to make steps up) at one end and going round and climbing back over it at the other end. Then climbing up and standing on it and jumping off the other side at one end then the other. They will soon progress to climbing on one end walking down to the other and jumping off instead of going the long way around. Kids always like the short cut!

Blocks or mats underneath to make it a 'floor beam in the sky'
 

Shan126

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May 25, 2009
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Thanks everyone for the advice! I really like the circuit idea and making it more of a game.
 

CreateMagic

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You could have them crawl or "bear walk" on the beam, which makes it feel closer to the ground. Little kids often feel more comfortable (in my experiences) walking sideways at first, because they can shuffle instead of having to actually pick up their feet. Try high matting under the beams at first...think of how you might build confidence in an older kid for skills like cartwheels. Low beams on a small incline (one end on the ground, the other on a folded panel mat), walk up and down.
 

KAQuinlan

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Mar 6, 2009
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Florida Panhandle
We also have a beam elevated on one end. The kids start at the low end and walk up the beam so that they are higher. Then, there is another beam that goes across the river (which has plastic, smiling sharks in it). We usually do this with our parent & tot kids, but may do it in the early classes with our preschoolers. Also, the pads are essential in early teaching. When they are comfortable on the pads, then we take those off and let the brave ones try walking without pads. The not-so-brave ones get a hand or a parachute (hold the top of the leotard in the back, or the back of the shirt), which lets them know that we are there, but really makes them do it by themselves. If they start to fall, we use our free arm to catch them -- not give them a wedgie with the "parachute!" We find the parachute very effective for this as well as doing a "Birdie perch" on the bar (squat on), climbing ladders, and just about anything else a child has a lot of fear in.
 
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