Funny what? Funny Bugs! That's what we call our three year olds here at The Little Gym. Being a Funny Bug is a very important time for your little one! They are about to take a huge leap and they will be about to participate in a structured class all by themselves, without their parents.
Physical exercise has never been more important than today. Did you know young children need at least 3 hours of play a day? With tablets and smartphones children have more and more excuses why not to be outside (or inside) playing and being physical. Have a read of this article which explains why movement is so important for your little ones here.
From Bugs (4-10 months) to Super Beasts (30-36 months) the little ones have their parents in the class with them. But when they get to three they get to have serious fun all on their own. This is a great time for your little one to develop a strong sense of self-confidence and eliminating their fear of failure is paramount in these classes.
Don't worry if your Funny Bug isn't quite ready to explore by themselves just yet. If they need you to be in the gym still then that's ok. You are more than welcome to stay in until they feel confident enough to go off on their own. You'll be surprised how quickly this can happen and before you know if you'll be watching from the lobby whilst enjoying a complimentary tea or coffee.
Once they discover the joys of independence they're eager to do what all the big kids do. This is great, however they are still at an age where the best way for them to learn is through play. That's why the Funny Bugs classes have just the right mix of free-play and structured activities. Having the Funny Bugs listen to the instructor explain what they'll be doing through the use of imagination means they need to listen and watch even if just for a minute or two. This life skill really prepares them for going to school and listening to the teacher.
All of our Pre-K classes (3-5 years) have a teacher:child ratio of 1:6 which allows everyone to get just the right amount of attention. Their learning environment must be one in which structure, learning, movement and play can co-exist together. At The Little Gym we are constantly keeping up to date with research into child psychology and the way in which children learn best (through movement). This is why we have recently changed our Funny Bug structure to align with current research.
The new structure means less time sitting down and instead incorporating as much movement as possible. The first 5 minutes is spent as exploration of the gym and the last 5 minutes are spent having fun with the balls. Research suggests 50 minutes is the most appropriate time frame for a 3 year old to partake in any kind of structured activity. As instructors we can vouch for this! The structure of our Funny Bugs class looks like this:
- MOVE AND LEARN - this is the first 5 minutes where children can explore the gym around them. We always have a 1:6 instructor:child ratio so there will still be lots of imagination going on during this time. We also introduce the Funny Bugs to a skill which they can come over and try if they want to. It's crucial they know that there is nothing in this first 5 minutes that they NEED to do. The research suggests that this exploration period at the start helps increase their attention span and allows them to better retain information. It's also a great time for them to develop their independence, work on decision making and motor planning.
- STRUCTURE - The next part of the class is where we group our Funny Bugs and take them around the 3 stations of the gym. Here we are getting your little ones used to listening to instruction which is a very hard skill for a 3 year old. We use lots of imagination to peak their curiosity and keep them engaged throughout. Getting them to listen to a teacher explain what they're going to do, even for 60 seconds is a great life skill and is really going to prepare them for school!
- BALL ACTIVITY - This activity changes each week. Sometimes it'll be a structured activity and other times they're encouraged to have independent free play. Ball activities are crucial for Funny Bugs to develop their gross motor skills, manipulative skills, co-ordination, depth perception, peripheral vision and so much more!
As well as the physical side of the classes The Little Gym also incorporates 3-dimensional learning to all the classes. We have
- Get Moving - The physical aspect
- Brain Boost - Learning concepts like body part awareness and basic maths etc ...
- Citizen Kid - Increasing self confidence, sharing, taking turns etc ...