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Where are the other little boys?

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TheSister

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Jul 8, 2008
14
My little brother (3.5) has been playing with gymnastics for a while, and since we saw he was pretty serious about staying with it (for a three-year-old), we are now sending him to a real gymnastics gym. He's in a toddler class, and is obviously very beginner, but there is not one other little boy. Not just in his class--in the entire gym when he's there. When he's older (5-7) they have all-boys classes.

During class it's seven little girls in pink leotards and ponytails and one little boy in a bright orange t-shirt with sweat-spiked hair. For now the male teacher of his two-teacher duo does work with him really nicely. Boys just have different learning styles than girls-- to him, pretty feet are covered in dinosaur stickers.

I know there are male college and olympic gymnasts, and they have to start somewhere-- so are there any parents or supporters of little boys on here with advice or commiseration?
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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Yeah, that is pretty much like the little classes I've coached. As far as how well it can work out, it seems to depend on the kid. I have seen some boys who have just been delighted with the situation and oblivious to the fact that it's a bunch of girls. The older they get, the more it tends to not work out so well. If they have individual boy classes starting at 5, that's pretty good I would guess, based on the programs I've seen. Does he enjoy the current class? It sounds like he is enthusiastic and energetic! The skills he is working on in gymnastics will benefit him in a variety of sports and hopefully it will work out for your family for him to reach his gymnastics goals. Most of the boys I know in competitive actually started later, not as preschoolers. Some have sisters who were in competitive gymnastics and they eventually started as elementary schoolers. At all levels there are more girls than boys though, basically. It would be great for the sport (and kids) to increase enrollment of boys, but after the Olympics, with the general boom, I bet a lot of preschool classes will see more boys. By the end of this summer he could have some partners in crime.
 

TheSister

New Member
Jul 8, 2008
14
Thanks, it's helpful to hear that eventually there will be more boys. He does not really care whether it's all girls or not. The main problem is that, like many boys his age, he's much less concerned about doing what the others are doing. Girls latch onto that earlier, at least from what I've noticed being a nanny. He has some skills, but not a lot of will to copy or follow. So maybe that's a boy thing or just a personality thing.

What I do know is that he likes being in the gym and asks to practice at home every day, so as long as he's interested, we are too.
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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The main problem is that, like many boys his age, he's much less concerned about doing what the others are doing. Girls latch onto that earlier, at least from what I've noticed being a nanny. He has some skills, but not a lot of will to copy or follow. So maybe that's a boy thing or just a personality thing.

I would agree that in general this can be the case. Hopefully the instructors expect that. Usually with 2s and 3s we're just trying get them moving, going through the motions of the class and introducing them to gymnastics, and there's not so much of an expectation they'll be able to perform every task or always be on point. It takes a lot of focus and we're asking a lot of them so it's kind of expected that they might have some trouble following along. The classes usually get more serious about gymnastics skills and demand more focus around age 5 to 6, so he has a few more years to develop these listening and following skills. And of course the difference of even half at year at these ages means so much...if he is in a 3s and 4s class and he is still 3, then it's not really "fair" to compare to a 4 yr old, you know?
 

TheSister

New Member
Jul 8, 2008
14
I really appreciate your answers, gymdog, and I'm glad to hear from an outside coach that the attention/skill bar is fairly low at this level. I don't want him to have a lot of pressure, but at the same time, I totally don't want him to be a total class disrupter. In other words, I don't mind if he's not crab-walking perfectly, but when he's deliberately jumping or doing rolls instead, it distracts the other kids and the coaches. He thinks that he is funny.

His coach said that as long as he wasn't running away from the class or talking to the girls, that he was fine. I kept apologizing for his behavior and is coach had to stop me to pay him a compliment on a new skill . I've learned to be paranoid about his behavior issues from our previous preschool that always had very negative reports for him (the current preschool is a little less structured and loves him).

He is in a just three-year-olds class, which is nice because he can stay with just three-year-olds through the fall/winter session (even though he turns four in October). We've been taking ten or fifteen minutes at home every day this week to do a little bit of safe stretching and work on some simple skills his coach suggested. I play his fave music loud and I do the stuff with him, which he thinks is hilarious. Hopefully this will get him used to doing the right things and not showing off so much.

He does wait his turn nicely, and had nice things to say to the little girls as we were leaving. He's a bit jealous that they get to wear sparkles on their outfits, though.
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
Hi TheSister! It's great to know that there are other BOYS in gymnastics! My son is 6 and started taking classes about 6 months ago. There are only 2 boys in his class, sometimes 3 so there aren't a lot of boys at our gym either. There are a few older boys on the acro team so I figure they had to start somewhere too! Hy little boys is always full of energy and sometimes has issues following directions and hold his attention for more than 5 seconds on one thing but the gymnastics is helping him focus more. I think it's great that your son is starting young--he's gonna be amazing when he gets older!
Good luck and welcome to the board!!!
 
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Aussie_coach

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There is nothing wrong with the way he is acting, little boys are suppossed to be full of energy ad they love do jump and roll and run and do it without thinking at the most innapropriate times. In fact all the best international male gymnasts seem to claim they were exactly the same as little boys and their parents put them in gymnastics to run off some of that excess energy.
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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His coach said that as long as he wasn't running away from the class or talking to the girls, that he was fine. I kept apologizing for his behavior and is coach had to stop me to pay him a compliment on a new skill . I've learned to be paranoid about his behavior issues from our previous preschool that always had very negative reports for him (the current preschool is a little less structured and loves him).

You also have to remember we can tend to be pretty harsh on our family members and hyper aware of what they are doing and how it reflects on us, so it helps to keep in mind that as long as he isn't getting sat out every class, we kind of have a skewed awareness, you know? While you may be lamenting the fact he is rolling during crab walks, a family member of another child may be inwardly groaning that their child does not seem to be doing this or that well and eying your brother's performance enviously! I see this all the time. Parents, guardians, siblings, whoever took the child to class, will come up and apologize and have concerns the child was completely out of order in class, when to me the child was just doing the average little kid thing. I often find that their perception doesn't "match" with mine. If I didn't ask the kid to sit out or leave class, then they weren't disrupting me enough to be a real safety or class disruption problem. In a 3s class, some form of disruption or incorrect participation is pretty inevitable. We would just be asking too much otherwise. The impulse control is just not there in preschoolers, and some of them lack the physical coordination to perform some of the tasks. That's why a gym with a good preschool program will have classes carefully designed to insure a good teacher:student ratio and activities that are in a safe and relatively controlled environment.

By the way, your descriptions of your brother are making me smile. He sounds like a great kid. Maybe he needs to make a sparkly gymnastics shirt with some glittery fabric paint :D
 

TheSister

New Member
Jul 8, 2008
14
MdGymMom01 -- we're in MD, too, in northern Baltimore County. It's nice to see another family with a little boy doing gymnastics. My little brother has good body awareness but is hopeless with a ball or stick so gymnastics seemed like it might be a fit for him. Plus his aunt was a fairly high-level gymnast and he really looks up to and takes after her.

Aussie_Coach -- you're right, little boys are like this. I have lots of experience with crazy kids from being a nanny, but then again as a nanny i'm looking after 1,2, or 3 kids and not trying to make them do anything too specific. With a class, it gets worrying when ALL the other moms know his name because the teachers/coaches are calling it over and over again in class. But, hopefully the gym will be a good place to put his completely boundless energy. And be a little safer than him throwing himself around at home.

Gymdog -- I think you're right, that I'm harsher on him because he's my brother and I just need to let go a little more. Being a nanny, and being in so many "mommy and me" type classes with him have made me feel too responsible for him behaving perfectly all the time. FANTASTIC idea with the glitter paint. As his official craft guru this will absolutely be our next project. He will love having something 'pretty' to wear to class.
 

Aussie_coach

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Don't worry, in most gyms all the parents know the names of all the little boys because their names are all said frequently, he may seem more disruptive to you because he is the only boy in the class. Boys and girls have very different focuses at this age.
 
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