Preschool- HELP!

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coachmolly

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Former Gymnast
Jan 18, 2009
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VA
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Do you find that circuits are appropriate for 3 year old preschool classes? I have been covering one preschool class a week for another coach and the set up is always a circuit. The class is very small, less than 5 kids, but I cannot seem to keep their attention and keeping them rotating from one station to the next without running off, getting stuck at the one station that is the most fun, or just totally losing concentration in general. I'm really at the end of my rope and I'm not sure what to do. This week I tried to keep them at one station altogether, take their turn, pass through another station on the way back which was right next to the one I was standing at and where they would not need any assistance, and then get back in line. Even this was a challenge.
I do not have a very commanding voice or presence and am scared to punish the kids in any way (make them sit out a turn or on a foam square for a minute or two, nothing major) because I don't want the parents to react badly. With my older classes I can punish them with conditioning, that's not really possible with this age group. I'm just getting really frustrated and am looking for any and all advice. Thanks in advance!
 
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gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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Yes, but you have to keep it simple. Have them all sit down and show the circuit one time completely (make sure they're watching). Important is to spread the stations out as much as possible, and have visual cues as much as possible. Stop if anyone isn't listening and redirect before you continue.

They should be able to do it. You should mostly stay at the "hardest" station. You can either start everyone at the first station, but I usually don't do that. I say you can go to whichever you want, then you start when the music starts. This way they spread out immediately.

No more than 10-15 minutes.

From your spot, you will redirect as necessary. It will be almost constant with 3s. That's okay. Annoying, but it isn't a fault of yours, just the way it will go. You'll have to get up and wander to trouble shoot once they've gotten the hard station down. Because of the nature of the constant redirection, it's really important in a preschool class to know all the names. Name tags at the beginning if necessary, even.

Two stations is more troublesome than it's worth in my opinion. They'll end up too close together which leads to whining and silliness. Also, it's too repetitive. This group has a very small attention span and is more focused on trying and doing than getting and perfecting. If circuits aren't your thing, do locomotive skills with them all going at the same time down the floor.
 

marie83

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Mar 23, 2009
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Another coach and I took on our club's pre-school class just before Christmas last year. We have a huge group - 17 between the pair of us! We started off doing circuits, but had much the same experience as you - either that or they just went round and round the circuit and didn't really learn anything!

So we stopped doing circuits and planned our sessions out in 10 minute slots we do something related to Agility, something related to Balance and Something related to co-ordination every session, as well as a warm up and cool down.
We also made a star chart with behaviour issues on = Good sitting, good listening, Waiting turns, being kind to others etc. When they do these things, they get a star. When they get 10 stars they are rewarded with a prize.

We have recently started up the circuits again, now that the children know how we want them to behave. This time round they are much more successful and more focused on a particular activity, jumping for example.
 
C

cher062

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Yes, but you have to keep it simple. Have them all sit down and show the circuit one time completely (make sure they're watching). Important is to spread the stations out as much as possible, and have visual cues as much as possible. Stop if anyone isn't listening and redirect before you continue.

They should be able to do it. You should mostly stay at the "hardest" station. You can either start everyone at the first station, but I usually don't do that. I say you can go to whichever you want, then you start when the music starts. This way they spread out immediately.

No more than 10-15 minutes.

From your spot, you will redirect as necessary. It will be almost constant with 3s. That's okay. Annoying, but it isn't a fault of yours, just the way it will go. You'll have to get up and wander to trouble shoot once they've gotten the hard station down. Because of the nature of the constant redirection, it's really important in a preschool class to know all the names. Name tags at the beginning if necessary, even.

Two stations is more troublesome than it's worth in my opinion. They'll end up too close together which leads to whining and silliness. Also, it's too repetitive. This group has a very small attention span and is more focused on trying and doing than getting and perfecting. If circuits aren't your thing, do locomotive skills with them all going at the same time down the floor.
I agree with all of the above and a circuit is perfect for 3 yo. My degree is In Early childhood Ed and have been working with little ones for over 20 years. Your description says your not very commanding. You have to have a calm but assertive energy with these kids. They need to know your in charge or they will walk all over you. If they are sitting or waiting more than 10 min your going to loose them. Also I know in our gym with the toddlers they have rubber discs with numbers on them and rubber arrows they put on the floor for them to follow From one station to another - it give the follow the path effect. Also from one station to another they may have small hula hoops down on the ground so they have to hop in the rings to get from one location to another.
 

Shan126

New Member
May 25, 2009
31
At that age, I would say it is not appropriate. At my gym, we have obstacle courses that they go around as a group. I demonstrate it at the beginning, so the kids know what to do at each spot and this allows you to walk around and help at different problem spots. With the advanced tumble tots who are a little older, we will do 10 minutes of drill stations. There are usually 5 drills, so they only spend 2 minutes at each and don't get bored.
 

gymdog

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Former Gymnast
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Jul 5, 2007
5,121
At my gym, we have obstacle courses that they go around as a group. I demonstrate it at the beginning, so the kids know what to do at each spot and this allows you to walk around and help at different problem spots.
This is a circuit...unless I'm missing something? It doesn't have to be performing actual gymnastics skills, just a series of things they go around and do before they move to the next one. Rather than waiting in line to do one thing.

Circuits can take on different forms. Depending on the age, I might do different things. You can play "add on" with a circuit for example. Start at the first station, explain/demonstrate (and you pretty much need to demonstrate), then have everyone go and wait at the second station. Explain/demo, everyone goes, when they finish they go back and do the first station, then the second, line up at the third. After the first time at the third, go back do first second third, etc.

I personally would not do this with that age, although I think it would probably work, it would just drive me crazy because there's no way half of them would remember to go back to the first station after doing the last and I would be like, no, go back, no not that one, no that's not what we did, no, no watch her, no, all right just come back here, you're in the way, there are people behind you, ONE PERSON AT A TIME, stop running, it's her turn, don't push you'll go next...

But anyway. I'd still have to say all those things, it's just easier for me to move around if I'm not explaining the new one.
 

KAQuinlan

Member
Mar 6, 2009
93
Florida Panhandle
I agree with gymdog. We do circuits with our three year olds all the time. As stated, you have to take the entire group through each station and have each child do it so that they know what to do. We try to put a fun thing between each skill -- front roll, jump on the colors, cartwheel, slide, spiderman walk, crawl under the rainbow, etc. The idea is that they get to do the fun thing once they have done the skill. I usually choose one skill that I really want them to get that day and stay at that station. I only leave it if a child is completely missing another station.
 
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