As your child leaps, cartwheels, twirls, somersaults and jumps, it's more than just play – it could be considered "tumbling." A branch of gymnastics, tumbling is the art of floor-based acrobatics. Tumbling offers specific benefits and a solid introduction to gymnastics as a sport for younger kids. Whether your child is a budding gymnast or just needs a way to get the wiggles out, you can create a safe space to practice tumbling at home.
When it comes to adding tumbling to your child's repertoire of exercise, you'll see a number of benefits. Tumbling contributes to the 60 minutes of physical activity recommended each day by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What's more, tumbling requires little in the way of equipment, making it a less expensive alternative to other team or club sports. With comfortable clothes and a clear patch of floor, tumbling is an easy and convenient way to add strength training and flexibility to your child's schedule.
While just about any acrobatic floor skills could be considered tumbling, there are a few basic skills that a budding gymnast should learn. The first is the forward roll, or somersault. Once that has been mastered, a backward roll is the next skill to learn. After that, hand stands, cartwheels and walkovers are more advanced tumbling moves.
Drills and Games
By doing a few drills and playing tumbling games at home, you can help contribute to your child's daily fitness. The Interactive Media Lab at the University of Florida suggests using "levers" to teach cartwheels by helping your child stand straight and then put her hands on the floor in front of her while kicking one leg to the ceiling. Or, try doing a somersault contest where you each think up silly -- but safe -- ways to do a somersault, such as with straight legs, with a crazy pattern or even backward. Making tumbling into a game increases the likelihood of your child becoming interested in exercise.
While tumbling is one of the most basic gymnastics skills, there is the chance for an injury. Bumps and bruises are par for the course, but head and neck injuries can be seriously dangerous. Always encourage your child to use a spotter when she practices tumbling and put down soft mats to help cushion falls. HealthyChildren.org also notes that the right clothing should be worn for gymnastics, which means clothes that stretch and ditching jewelry that could tangle or snag.
While a basic tumbler only needs a few mats, wedge-shaped apparatus and heel protectors can be used when your child becomes more serious about adding tumbling to daily exercise.