In the upstairs space at CrossFit South Brooklyn, you just might find 3 and 4-year-olds in the Superman position, pretending to fly over a city full of dinosaurs.
That is a typical preschool class, said David Osorio, the owner of the Box and founder of the blog Inside the Affiliate.
CrossFit South Brooklyn offers four different kids classes, ranging from preschool all the way to teens. While the teens class is definitely more training focused, the preschoolers are in a program that focuses on movement in general.
Osorio said the goal is to teach them basic movement prep and to create body/positional awareness. “The sooner we can get kids exposed to things like forward rolls and walking backwards and bear crawls and hopping on one foot, hopping on two feet, the more they’re going to learn how to move their bodies in space,” he said.
The preschool class is an hour long and Osorio said they have no problem holding the kids’ attention for that long. Typically, the class starts like the adult classes — with names and an icebreaker question. After that, Osorio and one of the other instructors lay out stars on the ground. The kids will stand on the stars and play a basic game of Simon Says that is a disguise for dynamic stretching.
A key to teaching preschool is to leave no room for ambiguity, said Osorio. When you want a kid to do something or stand somewhere, you need to have clear lines, or in this case stars, so there is no wiggle room. “It’s really absolutely essential to have clear places where they stand, so every activity we think about where the kids will be, how are they going to stand, where are they going to line up,” said Osorio. “You can’t really have any ambiguity about where they need to be because all of a sudden you’re going to be chasing kids and herding cats, so you have to be really clear.”
Osorio said to hold the preschool class during a quiet time at the gym, or in a separate room altogether, to keep the kids from getting distracted. And if a young three-year-old comes in and can’t handle the group setting, Osorio will ask the parents to wait a few more months before the child joins the class
All in all, patience is key, as well as having fun and going with the flow. “The preschool class is a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s like therapy for us, and it’s really interesting to see how CrossFit expresses differently throughout the age groups.”
Looking for more advice on running a preschool class? Check out this article from Inside the Affiliate.