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Toys, Products, and Ideas
for Sensory Education

Does Gymnastics Enhance Reading? Yes!

Gymnastics is more than learning how to perform a perfect cartwheel, fly between uneven parallel bars and
leap and somersault on the balance beam. This challenging sport helps children develop both physically
and mentally.

The gymnastics environment provides an abundance of therapeutic activities to increase strength, ROM,
balance and improve sensory processing, motor planning, and organizational behavior. Many times the
children do not even realize how much their bodies are benefiting from their favorite activity, which is often
the trampoline. The sensory experiences that are available in the gym prepare the body and its nervous
system to learn. The children can then utilize their newly acquired gymnastics skills and modify them to
accomplish functional goals.

Children learn all-around fitness from gymnastics. It helps them develop upper and lower body strength,
flexibility, eye/hand coordination and other physical skills that are basic for all sports. These skills make
all athletes quicker to respond and thus less prone to injury.
In addition, with slow and steady mastery of increasingly difficult skills, children can develop self-
confidence and gain a healthy self-image.  Not only does gymnastics help keep children physically fit, but
the skills they learn may also help children develop academically. Studies by child development
specialists have shown that physical skills such as balancing, concentration and sense of direction are
also reading-readiness skills. As a result, children who perform better physically will be better able to learn.

Children as young as 18 months can participate in "mom and me" classes. The goals of these programs are
to sharpen motor development and coordination, improve body and spatial awareness, develop social skills,
instill self-confidence and provide recreation. Typically, mom and baby do the exercises together.
Activities include running, crawling, jumping, swinging, rolling, hanging, throwing and balancing using
equipment scaled to the children's size.

Although most special needs children would have a difficult time performing typical gymnastics moves,
they can greatly benefit from using the apparatuses found in gymnasiums. Trampolines provide sensory
stimulation as well as muscle stimulation. Gymnastics mats allow children to walk on surfaces that
compress when they walk on them. This provides good resistance, which helps build muscle. Using the
uneven bars, whether assisted or unassisted, helps children build upper body strength. Sitting, jumping
into, and climbing out of a pit filled with foam squares provides great sensory input and excellent physical
exercise.

"He’s a Boy, He’ll Grow Out of It" is a great article explaining Sensory benefits of gymnastics.

Physical Goals are to increase:
Gross Motor Skills  
Postural Control  
Balance  
Coordination  
Strength  
Flexibility  
Stamina  

Social Goals are to increase:  
Compliance with group activities  
Appropriate Social Interaction  
Comfort level in groups and  
Integrate into group settings as appropriate  

Cognitive Goals are to increase:  
Attention / Focus  
Ability to follow directions  
Motor-Planning Skills  
Problem Solving  

Emotional Goals are to increase:  
Self confidence and movement enjoyment  
Frustration Tolerance  

Favorite local gymnastics places...see our
Links page!


Santa Cruz Gymnastics

Capitola Recreation has awesome Preschool gymnastics programs!
Gymnastics