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Include Gymnastics in School Curriculum, Researchers Say

After over 3 years of study regarding the development of fundamental movement skills, Victoria University researchers have suggested that gymnastics should be an essential part of the physical education program of the primary schools.

This was after the Education Council recently endorsed the curriculum for Health and Physical Education for Foundation – Year 10, in which the development of FMS (Fundamental Movement Skills) is one of the focus areas that was addressed.

The study that was done by the Victoria University researchers assessed more than 800 kids to gather details on how to improve the Fundamental Movement Skills of the children.

James Rudd, the lead researcher of the mentioned study, said that promoting a confident and competent attitude among young individuals was the most important result of getting involved in physical education, and gymnastics helped facilitate that.

“Previous research has shown that children who master fundamental movement skills (FMS) in primary school possess higher levels of cardiovascular fitness later in life than children who do not,” Rudd said.

“Children who master FMS are more physically active and have reduced obesity risk. There are also positive associations between FMS and a child’s social skills, self-esteem and academic performance — so it is important for overall wellbeing and development.”

“A gymnastics-based PE curriculum has an accelerated effect on movement competence in comparison to a standard school PE curriculum. This was indexed by larger gains in stability skills and object control skills. In addition, following a period of coach shadowing, the gymnastics curriculum was taught by the regular classroom teacher suggesting this model is sustainable and could be implemented on a larger scale.”

Gymnastics Student

“We should be developing our primary school physical education programs to specifically address fundamental movement skills.”

The health and physical education component of the Australian Curriculum puts a strong emphasis on the development of the fundamental movement skills and different approaches on how to engage children to take part in sports and physical activities as they grow.

The said component implies that physical education should be taught through a range of contexts and should further discuss six areas including fundamental movement skills and “rhythmic and expressive movement” skills. Both of the mentioned contexts were strongly related to gymnastics.

The research conducted by the Victoria University researchers acknowledged that kids who took part in gymnastics for more than 16 weeks have developed improved movement competence that was far better compared to those who participated in a regular physical education program.

“Our research suggests gymnastics should be included in the primary school PE curriculum and classroom teachers should be given the skills to deliver effective gymnastics programs to their students,” Rudd said.

More than 300 kids aged 6-9 years old were asked to participate in the final stage of the said research. Half of the kids were asked to engage in a regular physical education curriculum and half of them took part in Gymnastics Australia’s “Launch Pad” program.

There was a significant enhancement in both of the group’s overall movement competence, but the kids who took part in the Launchpad gymnastics program was seen with a far better improvement compared to those who participated in a regular PE program.

The largest improvement was found in stability and object control skills, which are both crucial for the overall movement competence of the child.

This suggests, although indirectly, that developing better stability skills might also further improve the object control skills of an individual. This might possibly be a significant finding in correlation with the positive association that occurs between object control skills, physical activity and fitness outcomes later in life.

Launchpad, a program funded by the Australian Sports Commission, is a program that aims to teach the kids the required fundamental movement skills in order to promote a healthier and more active lifestyle.

A gymnastics school in UK, wherein gymnastics was a part of their school curriculum

A recent Australian study revealed that young children in Australia have demonstrated low and decreasing levels of fundamental movement skills. For more than 13 years, around 14,000 kids aged 9-15 years old were studied to assess their proficiency in five fundamental movement skills. At the end of the primary school, the study revealed that the competency of the kids was low, as less than half of the subjects has shown competency in physical-related activities like running and throwing.

Mark Rendell, the CEO of Gymnastics Australia mentioned that the solution to improve the fundamental movement skills of the kids was to include gymnastics in the physical education curriculum of the primary schools.

“Gymnastics has a rich history in Australian physical education dating back as far as 1870, but in the past 20 years or so we perceive that it has dropped off the radar in PE programming,” Rendell said.

“One of the reasons is that primary classroom teachers are often responsible for teaching physical education and many do not have the confidence to teach gymnastics.”

“It is notable that the decline in gymnastics teaching in schools has mirrored the decreasing levels of Australian children’s movement competence.

“Gymnastics is synonymous with movement and we look forward to working with educators in all states through the Launch Pad program to help put gymnastics back onto the primary school PE curriculum.”

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