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Gymnastic-Related Skills

This is an excerpt from Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children-19th Edition by Robert P. Pangrazi & Aaron Beighle.

Gymnastics-related activities are an important part of every child's physical education experience, and they can contribute significantly to physical education goals. The gymnastics program helps strengthen children's dedication and perseverance, because stunts are seldom mastered quickly. Because much of the work is individual, students face challenges and have the opportunity to develop resourcefulness, self-confidence, and courage. When children master a challenging stunt, satisfaction, pride in achievement, and a sense of accomplishment can improve their self-esteem. Students benefit from social interplay, cooperating in various partner and group stunts. A caring and accepting environment will nurture the social attributes of tolerance, helpfulness, courtesy, and appreciation for the ability of others.

Important physical values also emerge from a gymnastics program. Teachers offer body management opportunities for students to enhance coordination, flexibility, and agility. Many activities give children an opportunity to practice balance. By holding positions and executing stunts, students develop strength and power in diverse parts of the body. Many stunts demand support—wholly or in part—by the arms, and thus help strengthen the musculature of the arm-shoulder girdle.

Progression and Developmental Level Placement

Progression is important in the gymnastics program. This book presents the activities in progression within three developmental levels. To avoid safety problems, the order of these activities should be reasonably maintained. Adhering to a developmental level is secondary to the principle of progression. If children have little or no experience in these activities, start them on activities specified in a lower developmental level.

Activities in this chapter are in six basic groups: (1) animal movements, (2) tumbling and inverted balances, (3) balance stunts, (4) individual stunts, (5) partner and group stunts, and (6) partner support activities. This arrangement allows teachers to pick activities from each group for a well-balanced lesson. Often, too much time is spent on tumbling activities, and children become bored and fatigued. Choosing activities from all the categories will help children who do not like tumbling activities find something they enjoy. At the heart of a gymnastics program are the standard tumbling activities, such as rolls, stands, springs, and related stunts. As your students perform these activities, emphasize exposure and overcoming fear. Perfect technique is less important than developing positive approach behaviors.

The Developmental Level I program relies on simple stunts, with a gradual introduction to tumbling stunts classified as lead-ups or preliminaries to more advanced stunts. Stunts requiring exceptional body control, critical balancing, or substantial strength are best for higher levels of development. The Developmental Level II and III programs are built on activities and progressions developed earlier. Most stunts at Developmental Level I have a wide range of acceptable performance; at Developmental Levels II and III, the activities place higher demands on strength, control, form, agility, balance, and flexibility. Most students can perform the activities at Developmental Level I, at least in some fashion; but certain activities at Developmental Levels II and III may be too challenging for some students. Design lessons to include a variety of activities ranging from easy to more challenging to keep all students motivated and able to succeed.

Developmental Level II Activities

Backward Roll (Handclasp Position)

Clasp the fingers behind the neck, holding the elbows out to the sides (figure 20.47). From a crouched position, sit down rapidly, bringing the knees to the chest for a tuck to gain momentum. Roll completely over backward, taking much of the weight on the forearms (figure 20.48). This method, which protects the neck, brings children early success in learning the backward roll. Remind children to keep their elbows back and out to the sides to ensure maximum support and minimal neck pressure. This is a lead-up activity to the regular backward roll. Allow children who cannot roll over to practice rocking back and forth with the elbows out. In no case should another person apply force to a child's hips in attempting to force him over.

Handclasp position

Figure 20.47 Handclasp Position.

Backward roll

Figure 20.48 Backward Roll.

Frog Handstand (Tip-Up)

Squat down on the mat, placing the hands flat, with fingers pointing forward and elbows inside and pressed against the inner knees. Lean forward, using the leverage of the elbows against the knees, and balance on the hands (figure 20.49). Hold for five seconds. Return to position. The head does not touch the mat at any time. The hands may be turned in slightly if this makes better contact between the elbows and the insides of the thighs. (This stunt follows from the Three-Point Tip-Up.)

Frog handstand

Figure 20.49 Frog Handstand.

More Excerpts From Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children 19th Edition