That's it. Only 1 more day to go until we fling open the doors of our new The Little Gym.
Sign up and help your child launch, tumble and turn towards new skills, new friendships and newfound confidence.
We can't wait to see the childrens happy faces :) See you soon!
Years before I even realised running my own The Little Gym was a possibility, I’d already seen its benefits.
My son, Luca, was 18 months old. He’d started walking by about 14 months, he was alert and interested in the world around him and busy doing all the things little boys do.
I first brought him to my local The Little Gym because I’d always been a big believer that a sound mind starts with a sound body. I’m not quite sure what I expected the results to be, but I’m certain I didn’t except them to be quite so profound, quite so quickly.
I’ve often described the acceleration he got from The Little Gym – athletic, cognitive, social and behavioural – as uncanny. That may not be the most scientific of assessments (especially from someone with a background in children’s cognitive health) but that’s really the only way I can describe it. Uncanny, and magical to watch.
By the time he started attending school for a few mornings a week at the age of 3, Luca was sitting upright on his chair, full of confidence and attentiveness. He was raising his hand to ask and answer questions, waiting for his turn, listening to instructions. He knew how to hold his pen, knew how to start a conversation, knew how to make friends.
With these building blocks in place courtesy of The Little Gym, he was able to progress so much faster at school, because he wasn’t having to expend energy on mastering these skills; he already had them.
Ah, you might say, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have developed them that quickly anyway? That would be a fair point, but for the fact that since then I’ve met lots of other The Little Gym franchise owners and – without exception - they’re all former members who saw similar transformations in their own children.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind a little.
I worked for a pharma company specialising in enzyme replacement treatments for rare diseases. What we did was astonishing. I’d wake every day knowing that today we could transform a child’s quality of life, their lifespan, or the opportunities they were able to seize. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of, but it came at a personal cost.
I was a single mum spending lots of time living out of hotel rooms as I travelled the world for my job. Initially, I was able to leave Luca with a nanny safe in the knowledge that he was well cared for, even if I was wracked with guilt.
By the time he was able to say, “Mummy, do you have to go?” I’d barely be able to keep it together long enough to leave the house without sobbing. Eventually I just couldn’t continue, so I began looking for something else – something that would keep me much closer to home.
I knew I wanted to continue working with children. I loved them (and they seemed to like me!) and I knew I wanted to feel as though I was making a difference. Then I remembered the difference the The Little Gym had made to Luca.
They had it so right. They still do. And when a little research revealed they were a franchise, there was no hesitation.
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about The Little Gym Godalming opening its doors. So let me show you instead. Come and see us – you can get in touch here.
“A sound mind in a sound body.” You’ll no doubt have heard that before – it’s the sort of thing every parent says to their child at some point. What you may not realise is that this simplest of sayings dates back thousands of years, yet is backed by some very hard, very current science.
It was Greek Philosopher Thales who first suggested that physical exercise is an important (and possibly essential) part of mental and psychological wellbeing. I know what you’re thinking: you probably prefer your science to come from a little more recently than 600BC, but the fascinating thing about Thales’ theory is that, after lots of research carried out over the past couple of decades, it has basically been proved entirely accurate.
Movement, Sally Blythe notes in The Well-Balanced Child, “is part of the dance of development.” Repeated movements, she says, “help to strengthen the neural pathways that run between the brain and the body.”
As children grow, their ability to control their environment through movement and manipulation affects their cognitive development. In 2012, a study found that “fine motor skills… contribute to kindergarten achievement” while a 2016 report observed “significant correlations… between motor coordination and… cognitive function.”
Rewarding as it is to have the scientific community back the work we do at The Little Gym, we don’t need a scientific study to tell us the difference movement and motor skills can make to a child, because we see it all the time. If you think about it, the effect of physical development on academic achievement is almost inevitable.
Take a pre-toddling child, for example. The sooner they develop their core muscles, the sooner they’ll be able to walk, and the sooner they’ll be able to turn those first, wobbly, tentative steps into confident movement.
In later life we see the same effect when we’re learning to drive. When your hands and feet (and head) are a whirl of gearstick, steering wheel, clutch, accelerator, you have little mental space left for processing the world around you. During my earliest driving experiences I remember focusing about 2 feet beyond the end of the car bonnet. Only when I’d got the hang of the basic controls did my focus lengthen. That’s when I really started to learn to drive.
A toddler is mastering their own vehicle – their body. The sooner they can do it, the more they can focus on the discovery rather than how to get to the discovery.
Freeing up that cognitive resource is something that continues to be a big advantage as a child develops. If your child starts school unable to hold a pencil correctly, then they can’t devote all their mental energy to understanding how to form letters and numbers because they’re still trying to grasp (literally) the basic tools.
The sort of movement and fine motor skills developed at The Little Gym aren’t merely a ‘nice to have’. They’re essential for a good start in life – and just as important to cognitive development as they are to physical development.
Even the Ancient Greeks knew that.