Thursday, July 20, 2006

Gym Class

Callum had his 4th gym class yesterday and boy can I see a difference in his confidence!

The class is 1 hour long and there's a nice group of about 12 kids ranging in age from 2 to 3. The start with a few minutes free play, Callum usually spends this bouncing on the trampoline (at PT we were lucky to keep him on the trampoline for 2 minutes) his balance is improving and he manages to stay upright even when the other kids are boinging about. He's actually managing to jump by himself as well (2 feet off the floor). He'll climb the stairs to the slide, climb up ramps and run and play.

Free time is followed by circle time, a greeting song is sung, then stretching, a tumbling skill, a interactive song (like head, shoulders, knees and toes) and then an action song (like the Hokey Kokey). The first week Callum was pretty oblivious to the whole thing and really didn't want to join in. Now he's one of the first to take his place in the circle and takes part in every thing. He points to himself when they call his name during the greeting song, does all his stretches with great enthusiasm and is the 1st to volunteer for tumbling skills.

The pace never stops and while two teachers set up the obstacle course the third teacher (Tina) takes all the kids to the far end of the room where they have to traverse the "hot dog". This is a soft foam roll that is reached by squishy stairs and has a nice soft ramp at the other end, perfect for rolling down. The first week the only way Callum would go across it was by crawling verrrrry sloowly, by week 2 he took teeny tiny steps while clinging tightly to my hand, yesterday he flew across it and didn't need any cajoling to take his turn.

The obstacle courses vary week by week (they do 2 different ones each session) but at least one usually involves balance beams. These are flat pieces of wood about 10 inches across that are laid across foam mats to make a little path, usually followed by something fun at the end like a tunnel to climb through. Weeks one and two required lots of motivation from me to get him to cross the beams and it was teeny tiny steps with him clinging very hard to my hand. Last week he let go for a short while and yesterday even though the beams were quite far off the ground he did most of it by himself and did it multiple times! We'd tried to get him to walk on a beam at PT but he wasn't having anything to do with it, it's amazing the difference that fun and other kids can make.

Hanging skills are next which Callum is very enthusiastic about, each teacher mans a couple of ropes hanging from the ceiling which have handles, or rings attached and the kids can twirl or swing. Callum lasts a grand total of 1 second as he just can not hold his body weight, but the teachers give him another go with more support and he just beams. I get a momentary flicker of sadness when I see the other kids holding on for so much longer but it's a fleeting thought and doesn't linger. Callum's favourite teacher is Polo - a young black ex-American football player, the kids look so tiny next to him but they all seem to gravitate towards him. Polo does these great little karate moves with the kids when they've had their turn on the hanging skill, complete with great sound effects - the kids love it.

Another activity, then bubbles and circle time again for the goodbye song. By the end of it Callum is exhausted but happy, he asks for Polo every couple of days and yesterday when we got in the car to come home I'm sure he told me that he'd been flying.

I'm exceptionally proud of how far Callum has come in just a few weeks. It's encouraging him on so many levels and the best bit is that he's doing all these great exercises but to him it's just fun.


Michelle said...

What a great post this was to read! You wrote a wonderful description of how far he's come in a just a few weeks of the gym class...sounds like he's improved leaps and bounds from the first day of class! How awsome is that! This class sounds wonderful! WTG Callum!

Lori F said...

How did you find the class? Is it Gymboree or other? I found that Evan usually did things in a group setting that he wouldn't do in a one-on-one such as PT. Dont' know if it was the enthusiasm or challenge of having other kids around or what, but it worked. Glad Callum is having such a blast!

Naomi said...

Michelle - I couldn't stop smiling when he was there yesterday, I'm so proud of him.

Lori - we found the class through another parent and it's wonderful. It's a local gym but probably similar to Gymboree. Kieran starts a class there on Saturday so hopefully he'll like it just as much.

Erik Mann said...

another great blog...erik

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