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Karate, Gymnastics or Beavers? 6 YO

(26 Posts)
stickygotstuck Fri 19-Jun-15 14:29:34

DD is 6.
She has never been especially sporty or given to physical activity. To be fair to her, it's mainly that she is not very outdoorsy and team sports with lots of people, noise and rushing are not for her.

To my relief, for the last few months she seems very, very keen on her trampoline, cartwheeling and that sort of thing. She is very flexible and I am thinking gymnastics.

We live in a small town and the possibilities are gymnastics, karate and Beavers. Personally, I am keener on karate.

For confidence and general fitness, but mainly confidence, which one would you go for?

I love gymnastics but I am not familiar with that world, so this may be unfair, BUT I worry about excessive emphasis on appearence, excessive emphasis on competition, excessive weekend travel confused

Any good/bad experiences?

UnspecialSnowflake Fri 19-Jun-15 14:39:42

A friend's daughter does gym, she's good, in the squad and enjoys it, but it takes up an awful lot of time. I think she now does six hours a week, she's seven and as she gets older if she keeps it up more hours will be added. It's also pretty expensive for the sessions, and the competition leotards are at least £40 each. Also it continues during school holidays unlike a lot of out of school activities.

From what I've see gym can be very all consuming, but the children involved can also get a lot out of it too.

Flomple Fri 19-Jun-15 14:52:05

Gym is a broad church. Loads of kids do an hour a week, get their badges, and enjoy it. The negatives you mention are only for the handful who take it more seriously and do several hours' training a week. My DD does a few hours a week and has had a couple of comps. I don't think that's excessive, myself, but that's just me. Getting and keeping a place in squad is competitive, admittedly, but it is very much optional. Gym suits my DD very well, it's allowed her to succeed where before she just considered herself rubbish at sport.

I don't know much about karate. Beavers (and any of them, really) are very dependent on the leaders. Some do loads of weekend activities and camps, others are more just the weekly sessions. I suspect beavers with a great leader is better than karate with a rubbish leader, and vice versa.

Let her try a couple of them and see which she gels with. If her friends do any of them, that will probably influence her decision, but quite rightly IMO. It's nice to cement friendships with outside activities.

stickygotstuck Fri 19-Jun-15 14:55:16

Thank you Snowflake. That sort of confirms my worst fears!

stickygotstuck Fri 19-Jun-15 14:58:21

Thanks Flomple too.

That's the thing. If she is allowed to enjoy it at her own pace that's ideal. If there is any pressure to take it more seriously she'll probably be discourage.

I guess the only way of knowing what the local club is like is giving it a go.

Totally agree on the cementing on friendships. That's consideration number 3 for us.

Chasingsquirrels Fri 19-Jun-15 14:59:53

Is it just one? They are very different, I'd personally go for Beavers AND one of the sports (or both for a month or so then let her choose which one to continue).

museumum Fri 19-Jun-15 15:01:35

I'd go for either gymnastics or karate if she's not inclined to exercise naturally.
Beavers is great but it's not sport and can be outdoorsy once they get to Cubs and beyond.

Personally I'd try karate first and see if she likes it. I did judo and loved it!!
If she didn't take to karate I'd try gymnastics but I'd prefer my child to do karate for all the reasons you say plus that martial arts are still good for self confidence and self discipline.

deepdarkwood Fri 19-Jun-15 15:12:51

Ds & dd between them do all three - 2/3 each :-) totally agree with others that its the leaders that make it:
- we have a great beaver/cubs/scouts group- I'd ask around not only about the beaver leaders but also what the leaders are like higher up. It's almost impossible to get into cubs/scouts at my kids troop unless you come up thro beavers because the scout group has such an amazing bunch of leaders, and they offer really unusual opportunities (ds is off to Canada next year...). Pros: wide range of activities; something for everyone; lots of different challenges; usually very cheap/reasonable
- karate: again, for us this is down to an excellent teacher - which means karate is all about life skills. Perseverance, resilience; integrity; respectfulness
- gym: both my kids have done gym, but neither are very good so no club pressure! Like your dd, mine isn't a competitive sport girl, so we keep this up purely for fitness, & because her group is charity run & relaxed, and has great fun equipment (massive trampoline and foam pit!).

Not sure if that helps, other than to say I think it's not the activities themselves but the leaders/ethos. No substitute for going along, watching, trying and getting a feel. Sorry !!

Flomple Fri 19-Jun-15 17:33:54

I've never come across any pressure to step up to squad in gym. DD was invited to try out for squad but there is no pressure, they wouldn't want anyone there who wasn't mad keen. There are plenty of keen ones to fill the places! Plus squad is expensive and the gym coaches are not in the business ofpressuring parents to part with that much money.

I think gym is a good all-round grounding - the improved balance, control and strength will help in any other sport they pick up later, and it is a lot more appealing to my girl than any running sports. But I suspect the same is true of karate.

Shodan Fri 19-Jun-15 18:00:26

As a karate instructor I'm naturally biased towards karate, obviously wink- but I would stress that you need to check out the clubs available before deciding. Many of them offer Kids Clubs, which is (imo) a better introduction to the art than going straight for a more rigid class. Kids classes should ideally offer not only karate training but fun games, some modest inclusion of other martial arts (judo, for instance). But please, please make sure the club isn't one of those that grades its members up to black belt within a couple of years- this gives an unrealistic expectation and appreciation of the art. It is excellent for confidence and fitness.

Beavers- my eldest son was in Beavers and loved it, although I'm not sure it increased his confidence much. He did make some great friends though and learned things he wouldn't otherwise have done (campfire cooking, for example). It may well increase her confidence but won't have much effect on fitness.

Gymnastics- I have little real experience with this one, although I have friends whose children have done it and enjoyed it thoroughly. Some of them have had gripes with rigid timetables and teachers being unbending in their requirements from the children, but I'm sure this is down to specific instructors rather than the gymnastic world as a whole.

In short (which I haven't been, I know! grin)- I'd opt for karate. It is a good general all-rounder (one reason I took it up myself).

ReallyTired Fri 19-Jun-15 19:14:57

Most children are never good enough at gym to be in a squad. Its unlikely that your child will be anything more than a rec gymnast unless she is gifted. The competition to be in the squad is incredible for most clubs.

I feel that six years old is a bit young for karate. My son took up karate at the age of nine and loved it. Karate can be taken up at a later date than gym. The flexiblity from gym would carry over to any sport. Karate is a brilliant sport for a slightly older child.

Nameforsexboard Fri 19-Jun-15 19:20:47

You might not find pressure to be in a squad at 6 as it seems many gym clubs are already selecting younger or from those who have already done a few years of gym! There's far far more rec spaces than squad places.

stickygotstuck Fri 19-Jun-15 20:16:33

Sorry, I've been out!

Thanks for the extra responses.

I did wonder if 6 was a bit young for karate. It was DD herself who initiated the idea last year, and she was too young. One of the local clubs does have a min age of 6. The other one is 8. The first club does have a kids' club, thanks for the tip!

Good to hear there is no pressure to try for the squad at gym. I can't see DD being particularly gifted, bless. But she is very keen, so maybe we should try that first. I'll get in touch with the club this weekend.

I'll definitely suggest karate again in a year or two. I might join as well, always wanted to try myself grin. Or am I too old?

Shodan Fri 19-Jun-15 21:03:43

Never too old stickygotstuck! I was 35 when I started but there were others older than me- and in fact we're the ones who've stuck it out the most! Give it a go! I'vve made some very good friends at my club.

BTW- if your DD does gymnastics but then changes her mind and wants to give karate a go, the gymnastics work will definitely giver her an edge- we do a lot of work on flexibility and core strength (all the better to kick people in the head with wink grin)

stickygotstuck Fri 19-Jun-15 21:06:42

Thanks for the encouragement Shodan! I am older than 35 wink

BikeRunSki Fri 19-Jun-15 21:14:07

If she's not outdoorsy and doesn't like rushing about then Beavers may not be for her. Outdoorsy rushing about is largely what ds's Beavers do.

Shodan Fri 19-Jun-15 21:21:40

One of the great things about karate, sticky, is that you aren't judged against others. You (and I'm going to get a little bit sort of hippyish here grin) follow your own path. Age, disabilities, whatever, are taken into account when you grade. And it's so much fun.

Seriously. Have a crack at it.

lavendersun Fri 19-Jun-15 21:27:29

Agree with BikeRunSki, DD is very outdoorsy, absolutely loves cubs which is always completely manic.

Does she swim already?? A great life skill and if she doesn't I would get her swimming, DD is very keen to join a proper swim club these days. It has opened lots of other doors in confidence terms - like canoeing and sailing, but it doesn't necessarily have to lead to outdoor stuff.

DD does Gymnastics after school and unlike the stuff I did (and my Dad who was a very good County gymnast in the 1950s) which was all about strength and flexibility DD seems to do 'fluffy' things - sort of almost dance routine stuff. I don't know anything about it though I must confess.

In view of the fact that she isn't outdoorsy I would probably go for Karate and after seeing DD's gymnastic club I would definitely go for Karate, but maybe ours is just a bad example.

ReallyTired Fri 19-Jun-15 21:29:15

Karate is a brilliant sport, but a child needs quite a lot of resilence. I feel that if you started karate too soon then she might be put off for life. Gymnastics really needs to be started young while a child still has flexiblity. If a child develops flexiblity in gym then that will carry over to karate.

In your position I would put her in gymnastics and maybe transfer to karate when she is a little older, if she has become bored of gym.

Starlightbright1 Fri 19-Jun-15 21:40:15

What has your DD shown a preference for..My Ds does cubs he did beavers and loved it but it does get more and more outdoors...

He also Did gymnastics for a year he got bored in the end.

Karate is not something he wants to do so no experience

stickygotstuck Fri 19-Jun-15 22:06:38

Thanks for the further responses.

DD prefers gym at the moment.

She does swim. I see that as an essential life skill, and plan to stop when she can swim a respectable distance, unless she wants to continue, whichwould surprise me.

I think you are right when you say she may be put off by karate if not resilient enough yet. She is a very cautious child and she has postponed a first karate lesson twice. Once she saw it was really happening she seemed a bit scared. So I'm not pushing that for now. Hoping she'll want to try again in a year or two.

stickygotstuck Fri 19-Jun-15 22:12:55

Forgot to say. She did love forest school while at nursery, and I am relatively outdoorsy so would love for her to do Beavers. I am teaching her to ride a bike and are planning a mini cycling 'adventure' this summer in the hope that being outdoors will become more normalised.

But whether she wants to be outside or not seems to depend A LOT on her mood. So again, another chance to be put off massively there by Beavers.

hospitalworry Fri 19-Jun-15 22:16:35

Another 'individual' but confidence building activity (also helped by the gymnastics) is climbing - climbing wall near you at a leisure centre or ymca? Fun sessions (also roller skating at a ymca etc come to that- mine did 'learn to skate' sessions( once a week leading up to the learning to skate backwards (!) stage (and much more)

stickygotstuck Fri 19-Jun-15 22:40:05

Oh, climbing would be right up her street! But nothing near, sadly, it would mean drving to the nearest city on an evening, which I'd like to avoid. For now, I'd like to stay with the local stuff.

hospitalworry Fri 19-Jun-15 23:12:48

Well 'for now '
The thing that would help transition to almost any activity is definitely gymnastics. If it's just like an hour a week try and tag on any possible trampoline class too? And you're already swimming. The playground at the park, bike/scooter - it's all good!

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