Parkour is a sport and training discipline that is historically more popular with young adults. So how did it get introduced to children? For some, it became a way to share time as young ones come int o your life. It can be a family activity that’s less about sport and more about fun. For others, just for that very reason, it can be a great way for children to expend their vast stores of energy without having to participate in a team sport. Parkour is a good alternative for the active child, and happens to be an activity that can be started from an early age.
What are the benefits?
Children as young as toddlers are known to take tumble classes, or junior parkour classes. They combine gymnastics aspects such as tumbling with freedom of movement. They also encourage them to be creative, confident, and independent thinkers.
Children learn to flip and tumble, which can teach them balance, agility, and coordination. Learning to navigate a course from one end to the other through various obstacles teaches them quick decision making skills, using their imagination, as well as builds their confidence.
Though the teachers are there to show them the skills they need, with the young ones it doesn’t take long for them to strike out on their own to find the path in their own unique way. They do learn by the example of the adults, but are allowed to become free thinkers who learn make their own decisions in a safe way.
What do they learn?
It really depends on the age group on what they are learning. For the youngest traceurs, they are mostly only learning the basic core movements. They learn to jump, roll, tumble, use bars, do wall tricks, and safety training.
Though body conditioning is essential in parkour, for many of the younger children in training they do it through the exercises in class. Many of them also go through basic stretches as well. It’s all part of teaching them properly right from the start.
The older children would advance into basic body conditioning, but also get into the more advanced techniques. They would finally learn how to put all those core moves and groundwork to use. The older kids get a chance to get their feet off the ground and are doing very basic parkour.
How do they learn?
It seems an odd thing to discuss, the method in which they learn. For an adult, you just do. You do at it, and you do it with your all. But for a child who is full of energy, but with a short attention span? You need to keep them motivated.
They key to training children in parkour is to motivate them through games. Keep them involved, keep it fun, keep them moving. Games gives them a chance to learn those skills in a fun way without even realizing they were doing it to begin with. With the games though, you need to keep them non-competitive. Never do games that there will be a loser. A positive mindset is essential even in the littlest traceurs in building that confidence they need to do parkour. It’s easier with the older ones, as once they’ve learned the basic moves they have fun finally putting those skills to use.
Parkour Learning Games
For the littlest ones, classes sometimes have featured movement class based on acting out a storytime. These classes, as well as the ones for the slightly older ones are often combined with family parkour classes, or will at least allow parents to participate in the classes (and don’t thing you’ll be able to keep up with the little bundles of energy either).
The next group up tends to see classes structured around games, but it really depends on the academy you send them to. They usually teach the fundamentals and conditioning through what they often call structured activities or playtime. You really have to be creative and always willing to change the rules to help teach them to expect the unexpected in parkour with this age group.
Some of the games you might see can be quite interesting. Perhaps they might play a game of tag, only do so by pretending to be an animal. It’s a great aerobic activity, and conditions the body. All while being fun, if not tiring.
Another example might be something like a parkour version of musical chairs. In this version they go around the outside of the circle either through skill or obstacle stations. Then when the music stops you would have them go towards the center where you have precision trainers waiting for them to jump to.
For Older Kids
The training for the older children can be pretty advanced. The older children advance to using those basic moves and getting their feet in the air. They learn the basic jumps and vaults at first, and progress to more aerials as they advance.
In the more advanced classes, if you’re lucky enough to have a local school who takes field trips, the children are taken very basic parkour courses. Either in a gym setting, or in a park. Theses are usually the senior children, pre-teens, who are more advanced in their skills and are finally learning the aerial skills.
Where to find parkour for kids?
The parkour programs for kids as varied, and it really depends on your area. For example, in my area there are two schools. One is a boys only school that offers teaching for children age 4 to 12 only. there’s another that offers classes to anyone from age 5 and up, and includes family classes. They also to field trips to parkour course in local parks for the advanced students, and have monthly parkour jams.
What sort of training is available really depends on your area. You will be more likely to find a better resource for programs in larger cities as that is where you will have a larger network of traceurs available for training.
If in doubt, either look up parkour for kids either in the phone book or on the internet and you’re bound to find a few local resources. If they’re not in your city, hopefully you’ll find something of interest for your kids within traveling distance to you. It can be a fun activity for kids that lets them get in shape without ever feel like they’re doing any work. Can’t beat that!
Check out this awesome video of kids doing parkour: