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Faolmor

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Hi

I hope this is the right forum to post this (thought it might be Australia-specific, which is why I chose this one!)...

My DD is 4.5, and has been doing a recreational class all year. One of her coaches mentioned maybe getting her tested for their...well, I guess it would be a development class for kids who aren't on their squad yet, or old enough or something. I have no idea how it all works, and I didn't really get the chance to ask questions before the term ended.

I was just wondering...what do they mean by testing? What sort of things would they be looking for (in general, as I realise each club would have its own things...but I'm guessing it'd be strength, flexibility etc)? Would it be a "pull-her-aside-and-test-her" type test...or just a "watch-her-in-class-and-see-how-she-goes" type test?

She is going up a class at the beginning of next year anyway, but it's still another recreational class. I just don't want them to suddenly spring something on her and call it a test, because she would probably go into freak-out mode... Would they have to approach me, as her mum, before doing any testing?

Also, bit of an aside, but she is currently 70th percentile for height. Is that also something they'd look at and then say she's too tall or something? My mum is 5'2" and was a professional dancer...I'm 5'6", and her dad is 5'7"...so we're not giants, but I'd hate for her heart to be broken just because she's not teeny tiny.

Thank you in advance for any help!
 
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Aussie_coach

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What the test is will vary from gym to gym. Some gyms will just observe her in class, others may pull her to the side to test her on specific thing and other gyms will have her come in at a specific time to be seriously tested.

Also what each gym looks for will be very different as well. Some will want her to have certain skills, while others will not be looking for skills at all but for a certain level of strength, flexibility and speed.

Height is probably not one of the big things they will look at, unless she is really tall. They are more likely to choose a gymnasts who is naturally. String and flexible with fast muscle twitch over one who has the perfect body type.
 
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Faolmor

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Me again... (Sorry for long post)

Not sure whether to start a new thread, since this sort of follows on from the above...but DD has been driving me mental about gymnastics since classes finished a few weeks ago ("When does gym start again? Are we going to gym today? Is gymnastics on in the holidays? Mummy, when can I go back to gymnastics?..." etc etc. You get the picture. Mummy is currently hiding in the computer room, typing this, while DD cartwheels her way around the living room...).

When she goes back, she will be doing 3 classes a week - all recreational classes, and all requested by her. One is for homeschooled kids (we live in an area where homeschooling is very popular and the gym very kindly offers a pay-as-you-go social class for local homeschooled kids), and she is doing two "fun gym" type classes for 5-6 year olds.

The thing is...and I'm really scared I'm edging into CGM territory and I don't mean to, or want to...so please let me know if I'm sounding pushy!! But, she really doesn't want to do that type of gymnastics. She wants to learn how to DO things, iykwim? She used to come home from her classes this year disappointed that - at least, in her opinion - they weren't doing "gymnastics" things (in her mind, this means handstands, cartwheels, pullovers etc).

Now, of course, what I saw in every class was plenty of scaffolding for learning later on...eg making the correct shapes, learning to walk along the beam with confidence, trampoline, landings, safe falling, hanging on the bars and learning other very important basics. And please don't get me wrong - I LOVE her gym, and the coaches, and their approach. They are really safe, sensible and wonderful people who want every kid in their care to have fun and to feel good about what they achieve each class.

The club is very rec-class-focussed, however, with the overwhelming majority of kids never doing anything more than working their way up through all the recreational classes. But I guess what I'm trying to say (or what my daughter is telling me) is that she would prefer to be doing something more like SDP or NDP. She actually LIKES doing things like conditioning and repetitions, and she sometimes struggles with the lack of focus of the rec-style classes. She has always been a perfectionist, so for her, working quietly away at the same skill, over and over, until it is perfect, is her idea of awesome.

So...would it be CGM of me to approach her coaches to say so? Or should I just wait and see if they approach me? (As mentioned above, I believe DD is already on their radar...but I don't know the best way to go.)

I really don't know if it's the done thing to speak up. I'm not a "speaking up" type person, ever, so I would find it really hard...and I would probably be worried that they'll think I'm a psycho, pushy, attention-seeking, ultra-achievement parent or something. (I feel like I'm being pushy even for writing this post!!) But by the same token, I worry that I can can see how much my DD loves gymnastics, and so maybe if I say nothing, she'll miss out on something that might really bring her joy and fulfilment.

Advice please :) Should I speak up? And if so, how should I go about it? Or should I just get back in my psycho, pushy parent box?

Thank you.
 

&bs

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In Australia the girls can't compete until the year they turn 6 so most clubs will put the girls in some sort of Development/Pre Levels class at some stage during Kindergarten and then start them in a Level 1 group in Year 1. A lot of gyms won't start this in Term 1 of Kindergarten though because a lot of kids will drop out as starting school leaves them so tired they don't have the energy for anything else. I would just let the office/ new coach know that the old coach mentioned getting her assessed and that you are interested in Competitive Gymnastics in the future. This lets them know that you are interested when and if they are putting together a new group of Kindy kids. The things we look at are:

Body shape/size - this isn't hugely important but may be a determining factor in what stream they end up in. Ideally we look for below average height, with a petite build, broad shoulders with narrow hips (tend to be the kids who can do bars later on) the short muscley kids also tend to draw the eye early on. These attributes tend to get the kids tested when they first walk into the gym but kids who show other attributes once in a class will also be tested.

Strength - the natural strength to be able to do chin ups, leg lifts, pullover without being trained

Flexibility - leg flexibility is a nice bonus but mostly we look at shoulder, wrist and achillies flexibility as these are the hardest to train.

Handstand shape - A naturally good handstand shape is also a good start, a good core and the ability to have open shoulders and chest in at the same time is invaluable.

Co-ordination - a cartwheel that goes straight over the top, the ability to be able to kick up to a handstand, forward roll and backward roll

Running and jumping - we watch them run and make sure it is coordinated and fast, and can jump/rebound off a sprung floor

Balance - we stick them up on a high beam to check balance and fear, we also stick the up on a bar and make sure they aren't scared on top of the bar and will roll over without fear.

If we see a kid in a class we might just pull them and and test them quickly, if a rec coach thinks someone is good they will tell the parent to organize to come in for an assessment.
 
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Kiwi

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I don't think it would be too pushy to approach the coaches. Of course, it depends how you word your approach. You could say your DD wants more challenge and is interested in a competitive path. Nothing psycho about that. (A CGM would be raving that their kid was super-talented and they absolutely must take her on their competitive team).

Some kids do need more than rec classes (depending on how the rec classes are done). My DD did 'gym fun' classes at 4 and 5, but by 6 wasn't really being challenged enough and was just mucking around in class. It wasn't just about what skills they were doing, but also the emphasis of the coaching. The classes were relaxed and fun, without the thoroughness and attention to detail they get with competitive coaching (i.e. lots of corrections). I had been thinking about approaching the gym to ask about a more challenging class for her but then she got an invitation to pre-comp from the gym anyway.

In her case I don't think it was so much about strength, flexibility or body shape (she isn't a 'natural' at any of those, other than being smallish), more that she is quite coordinated, coachable (takes corrections), remembers routines well and focuses well in competition (she did two novice comps). Perhaps also mental attitude and 'toughness' (she hurt herself in warm-up for one novice comp, but carried on and competed). She hasn't done amazingly well in competitive gym, she actually has struggled a lot, but she enjoys it and I think the discipline has been good for her, and she would have been bored staying in rec. Your DD sounds like she has the right kind of attitude (likes conditioning and perfecting technique - amazing at her age, too) so I wouldn't be shy about bringing up your questions at the gym.
 
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Faolmor

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She's not doing kindergarten (it's not compulsory where we live, and we're homeschooling anyway), so we're pretty flexible with our days. Would that be something to mention, then? I'd never considered it, but I guess it makes sense that it'd a be a lot for little kids to deal with, all at the start of the year.

I thought she was 70th percentile, but after checking the growth chart thingy, she's only 50th...so I guess that's not too tall. She's also got her dad's wide shoulders and tiny hips. I know she's strong, because a while ago, they had a fun activity day at her homeschool gym class, and they all had to see how long they could hold a "dished" shape (or something...? I forget what it was called!). Anyway, she held hers for nearly 2 minutes - the longest of any of the kids there, including the older boys (10, 11, 12 years of age) in her class! She was nearly crying by the end of it, but she refused to put her feet on the floor until the coach told her to stop. So...she's also very stubborn...is that a good trait for gymnastics?? LOL

She has taught herself what I am sure are very messy and incorrect handstands and cartwheels. She's down to the floor in her middle splits, and almost down in her other splits (sorry...I have no idea what these things are called). She can sit with her legs out to the sides and lie with her stomach flat on the floor (is this a straddle or something?)... Anyway, all self-taught, as they have never done ANY of these things in her recreational class. I don't think she can do a backwards roll by herself, but forward rolls, yes. I don't know about bars, but I know in her last rec class, their coach was getting them to do "action toes" where they had to lift their feet to the bar between their hands, and then outside their hands, and she could do both.

One of the reasons I think she'd benefit from being in a more skills-based class is that she does these things at home and I really have no idea if a) she's doing them correctly and not learning mistakes she'll have to unlearn later on, and b) they're safe to be even attempting at home. I usually try to be present when she's upside-down, at least, and we have an old foam mat that she has been told she has to be ON if she wants to do any tumbling type play.

Should I stop her from doing these things at home?
 

gymmomof1

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I thought she was 70th percentile, but after checking the growth chart thingy, she's only 50th...so I guess that's not too tall. She's also got her dad's wide shoulders and tiny hips. I know she's strong, because a while ago, they had a fun activity day at her homeschool gym class, and they all had to see how long they could hold a "dished" shape (or something...? I forget what it was called!). Anyway, she held hers for nearly 2 minutes - the longest of any of the kids there, including the older boys (10, 11, 12 years of age) in her class! She was nearly crying by the end of it, but she refused to put her feet on the floor until the coach told her to stop. So...she's also very stubborn...is that a good trait for gymnastics?? LOL

She has taught herself what I am sure are very messy and incorrect handstands and cartwheels. She's down to the floor in her middle splits, and almost down in her other splits (sorry...I have no idea what these things are called). She can sit with her legs out to the sides and lie with her stomach flat on the floor (is this a straddle or something?)... Anyway, all self-taught, as they have never done ANY of these things in her recreational class. I don't think she can do a backwards roll by herself, but forward rolls, yes. I don't know about bars, but I know in her last rec class, their coach was getting them to do "action toes" where they had to lift their feet to the bar between their hands, and then outside their hands, and she could do both.

One of the reasons I think she'd benefit from being in a more skills-based class is that she does these things at home and I really have no idea if a) she's doing them correctly and not learning mistakes she'll have to unlearn later on, and b) they're safe to be even attempting at home. I usually try to be present when she's upside-down, at least, and we have an old foam mat that she has been told she has to be ON if she wants to do any tumbling type play.

Should I stop her from doing these things at home?
Lol you can try to stop her but when my dd was her age she never walked anywhere in the house- she cartwheeled, walked on her hands, twirled etc. Lol. Sounds like your dd would do well in a developmental class. I would ask one of those coaches to look at her and see if she could do it.
Happy New Year!
 
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Kiwi

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Should I stop her from doing these things at home?
Splits, handstands, cartwheels, and forward rolls (with hands down) should be okay. Don't let her do dive rolls or flips of any kind.

she's also very stubborn...is that a good trait for gymnastics??
I would call this determined, and it is a good thing in a gymnast.
 
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Faolmor

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Thank you for the replies! I really appreciate it.

So, what would be the best way to approach this? Should I wait until the end of the lesson and ask to speak to her coach? Phone in advance? Ask at reception? I don't want her coach to feel like I've cornered her or anything...
 

Faolmor

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Sorry, one more question...just wondering if it would it be better, do you think, to contact the club now - during holidays - to discuss this, when they're not so busy? Or should I just settle and wait?
 

Ozgymie

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Hi there - my daughter goes back to gym on the 6th - maybe check if your gym is open - it sounds like your daughter is ready for the next move - I hope it goes smoothly
 
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COz

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How did you go with this?

This thread was particularly interesting to me because I'd just found this forum and my 4.5yo had just swapped gyms and moved into a Development program. I learnt a lot by reading through this. Actually, I think I've read this thread more than once... :)
 
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COz

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Actually it was more of an admission that I had deliberately re-read it to get a better understanding of how things worked *blush*
 
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Faolmor

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We-ell, if I'm to be honest...I chickened out!! I'm really terrible with stuff like this. I second-guess myself too much by wondering if they'll think I'm being pushy or crazy if I ask about having DD tested... What if it's only me who thinks she's okay at gymnastics and they think she's awful? So I thought maybe I'd just let her do the first semester in her new class, and then maybe ask towards the end. She will be going three times a week anyway for a total of 4 hours per week.

I have asked her if she's still interested in doing the development program, and she says yes she is. But I also know she is one of those kids who crumples into a heap if she thinks she's being "tested"...and what she says and what she is prepared to actually go through are very likely two different things!

I dunno. Maybe I'm just being an idiot!! Maybe I should just pluck up the courage and phone them on Monday...
 
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COz

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There's no harm in calling and saying that someone mentioned testing, how does that work?
I doubt the testing would be scary for her, it's at the same gym and the person would know what is taught in the rec classes. Remember that these people spend a lot of time with little girls, know how they work and I doubt would be setting out to scare her :)

Someone mentioned it to you, so they presumably saw something they liked. If she's not yet emotionally ready they'll figure that out, if she is, then she could potentially have her fun home-schooled rec class plus the more disciplined development class.

Our 'test' was at a different gym with a stranger so could have been quite daunting, but was a friendly and fun 1-on-1 that took less than 15 minutes.

Be brave, call. Then you'll at least know what the process is and can stop wondering.
 
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We-ell, if I'm to be honest...I chickened out!! I'm really terrible with stuff like this. I second-guess myself too much by wondering if they'll think I'm being pushy or crazy if I ask about having DD tested... What if it's only me who thinks she's okay at gymnastics and they think she's awful? So I thought maybe I'd just let her do the first semester in her new class, and then maybe ask towards the end. She will be going three times a week anyway for a total of 4 hours per week.

I have asked her if she's still interested in doing the development program, and she says yes she is. But I also know she is one of those kids who crumples into a heap if she thinks she's being "tested"...and what she says and what she is prepared to actually go through are very likely two different things!

I dunno. Maybe I'm just being an idiot!! Maybe I should just pluck up the courage and phone them on Monday...
I am not from Austrailia, I hope you don't mind me replying...

I went through something similar to you with my youngest dd (7), she was taking 2 rec classes a week and breezed through the badge award system, like your dd my dd wanted to move out of rec and it took a while, dd didn't get invited to move up despite lots of great feedback from her rec coaches, dd got a slight injury when she feel off the bar during one of her sessions last year, the rec classes came out and brought dd and ice pack then started to chat to me about dd and how great she was doing, she asked if I thought that dd would like to move out of rec, I didn't want to seem pushy so I said I didn't know how dd would feel (dd was going through a phase of wanting to move and then being unsure), nothing more was said so I left it, the gym created a new advance rec group for girls around dd's age and dd didn't get invited to join. I spoke to dd after a few months and asked her if she wanted to move out of rec and she said yes, I gathered up the couage to have a chat with the head coach and it wasn't as scarey as I thought, he was rather nice and said that he had noticed my dd and he was on the list for a new group that he was creating, a few months sent by and to my frustration nothing happened. Dd had a birthday party at the gym and two of the coaches were running it - one of them was the coach that looked after dd was she got hurt, we had another chat and she said that she has her own group soon and said that she wanted dd to be in it, the only issue was her age , too old for the younger development group and a little on the young side for her new group (girls aged around 9-10), I said I would be happy to let dd be in her group as long as dd was. Nothing happened for around 1 month then after dd came out of her rec session the coach pulled me aside and said she wanted dd to start that week but had to clear it with the head coach due to her age. Dd has now been in her new group since November and is enjoying it, the new group is once a week, they hope to add another day as soon as they can find the space.
 
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COz

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I get the impression from yours/our experience and from other posts:

1) If you don't follow things up they assume that you're not interested.
It's not just a child's talent, it's how willing a parent is to commit to longer hours for their child. If the parent isn't showing interest early on, then how would they expect the parent to still be supportive once they're asking a tiny little girl to turn up multiple hours a week after a day at school when they're tired and hungry (the mother too). They also don't know if you're willing to pay for more hours, so it's sounding out the parent as much as the child's interest.
Unless you're having frequent contact with the coach, they probably won't go out of their way to raise it again unless you do.

2) Strike whilst the iron is hot.
Whilst I'm sure they will find ways to accommodate talented and interested girls, age is important in women's gymnastics. If they're asking, they have a particular age appropriate class in mind. If there isn't one at a suitable level/age, they will tell you.
DD4.5 was originally the youngest in a program that generally went from 5-7 with mostly 6s. When we changed gyms they offered development classes for 3-4 and 4-5 and I was surprised to discover that she was considered old for entry into their program. If I had waited another 6 months I think they would have thought hard about whether they would have accepted her.

3) The coach asking if you're interested is a first step.
It's an indication that they've seen something they like in your daughter and they think they can cater to her in another way if that's something the family is willing to commit to.
They're asking if you're interested/able to go down this path and they'll give you more information from there, but only if you show enough interest to follow up.
 
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Kiwi

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There's no harm in calling and saying that someone mentioned testing, how does that work?
It really won't hurt to ask them this way, it won't sound pushy, you just want to know how things work there. If a coach saw some potential in her, they probably don't think she is awful.
 
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