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It’s an exciting time to be a part of GymbaROO!

GymbaROO is receiving more and more recognition for its ability to optimise development and help children reach their full potential. A recent study looked at 400 school aged children who participated in GymbaROO activities over a 10-12mth period, and found amazing results! We now have compelling evidence that GymbaROO’s movement program is crucial for brain development and learning ability, and should play a key role in the education of all babies and children.

“Kids learning ability increased dramatically after doing the GymbaROO movement program…and the more often the better!”

This study found that the average neurological age of the children participating in the GymbaROO movement program 3 times a week increased by an average of nearly TWO YEARS in the 10-12 month testing period; that’s DOUBLE what is normally expected of children of the same age! And those children who completed GymbaROO activities 5 times a week showed even better results, jumping THREE years in their neurological development in one year! That’s amazing!

“NAPLAN results improve with MORE GymbaROO activities”

The study clearly showed a significant effect across children’s academic achievement. Those who completed GymbaROO activities 5 times a week scored well above average on their NAPLAN results. As well as improved NAPLAN results, teachers also reported noticeable improvements in classroom and playground behaviour, concentration, handwriting, letter reversals, ability to follow instructions, coordination, fitness and overall happiness at school for those participating in the GymbaROO program. The Principal of the participating school commented: “One of our highly experienced teachers – one of the best I have seen – was cautious at first of adopting the program. However, she now swears by it and will not let anything take away from sensorimotor time.”


What is important to note is that it’s most effective for children to develop the essential movement patterns that create the solid foundations for learning in the years before they start school. The earlier they participate in GymbaROO the better! But most importantly, what we learnt from this study is that MORE IS BEST! The more you reinforce the GymbaROO activities at home, the more you make GymbaROO a part of your child’s daily routine, the more your child moves everyday… the better prepared they will be for learning and the more successful they will be at school!

Non-mobile BabyROO milestones

From approximately four months, babies are more alert and able to raise their heads and push their chest up off the floor with hands and arms extended.  Pivoting to grasp a toy precedes the tummy crawling. Babies should be able to roll over from front to back and (usually) back to front. Pull ups to sitting position can be completed when baby’s hands are grasped by the parent, there should be no head lag and co-contraction should be seen in the elbows. Babies are more purposeful in their arm movements and some are moving their feet to their mouth. They now respond to, and love, more vigorous vestibular stimulation movements.  Some babies are pushing themselves backwards when they push up on their hands, and others are beginning to spin around in circles on the spot. You may see lots of head shaking and rocking forward and backwards when baby is on hands and knees. This position occurs as a result of an automatic reflex - the symmetrical tonic neck reflex – which, when the head is back causes the arms to straighten and the knees to bend, and when the head is forwards the opposite occurs. Nature is superb. We must take care not to ignore nature’s plan to insure our infants grow healthy brains, which of course affects both social and intellectual abilities.

 At GymbaROO BabyROO we show you how! Mobile BabyROO milestones Now that the baby is moving, the floor is their playground.  At Mobile BabyROO we show you how to use the floor for your baby’s best advantage.  It’s cheap and easy, but you need to make it a safe place for your baby to explore and roam freely! We  provide you with loads of ideas about music, rhythm and movement; successful massage techniques for wrigglers and squirmers; movement ideas and games that have your baby in fits of laughter; and safe places for play. For an infant, crawling on their front and creeping on all fours is very important for the development of the spine, the back and neck muscles and for the inhibition of the primitive reflexes and the development of the postural reflexes.  

It is also vital for all sensory input such as the tactility, for the muscles and ligaments, the primitive cross pattern actions to stimulate the later integration of the two sides of the brain, and for coordination. By late in this year, infants can grasp and hold onto fingers and almost take their own weight by their hands, arms and shoulder muscles. At GymbaROO BabyROO we encourage parents not to sit their babies until they have the strength and ability to get into and out of the seated position and sit up with a straight back. No infant should sit until they can seat themselves and the equilibrium (parachute) reflexes are developed, so that their arms go out to the side to balance them and protect their head if they topple over. Sitting a baby too early can also encourages 'bottom shuffling'. Bottom shuffling is not in the natural order of development and we try to discourage it as an alternative movement pattern. This is because it is a pattern of movement that does not allow for inhibition of select primitive reflexes and the maturation of some of the important postural reflexes. While as an isolated developmental ‘hiccup’ is may not matter in the long term, in combination with other developmental ‘hiccups’ it may have repercussions on later higher thinking and learning skills at school. At GymbaROO we know it is better to avoid potential problems if possible, so we encourage crawling and creeping in the first year of life.

Your creeping baby will also pull themselves up to stand. They are not yet ready to walk and should not be encouraged to as they need to develop strength and balance. They will cruise around the walls and furniture walking sideways, then finally turn putting one hand on the coffee table and the other on the couch and start to move forward.  They need lots of practice at side-ways movement, just like they tummy crawled before they crept on hand and knees. This stage often lasts for many weeks as it takes a lot of practice over time to develop the strength necessary for upright control of the body and the development of balance. Don’t be in a hurry for your child to walk. Let their body and brain tell you when they are ready! There is no hurry to walk… they will walk for the next 80 years! The foundational patterns that prepare your baby for walking are important to get into place first!


TODDLERS: 1 to 3 years

PENGUINS – Walking to 18 months

Now infants are waddling like penguins as they strive to get their balance and body awareness, (where are my arms and legs and how do I move them?).  This is an exciting time, at last our little ones are upright, but eyes and ears also need to adjust for seeing and understanding from the upright position, things look different now! These aspects take precedence over speech, as little ones learn about themselves and their world.  This is a bilateral stage, where both sides of the body work as one, and all sessions are geared to strengthening as well as advancing skills at this level.

The special sessions for this age aim at improving balance and muscle tone development through walking and running and for the older penguins, hanging by their hands. Therefore, the equipment is mainly slopes at varying degrees – so they can walk up and either walk or run down. Penguins like walking over the stairs, and over the rungs of ladders, climbing ladders, somersaults down the wedge and posting things, i.e. balls down hollow rolls and into the top of the witches hats or posting holes. Hanging from the overhead is now very important. Dances are age related and involve walking forwards and around slowly, with balance and adjustment to the upright position the main aim at this age. Concentration at this age is short, so mat time is interspersed with short periods of massage and vestibular activities along with nursery rhymes and action songs.  

Now is also the age at which we start auditory memory patterns through the repetition of specific verses and nursery rhymes. The use of the flash word of the Treasure Bag object familiarises children with those strange things called words. Our name is a word and so is the koala’s for instance. Alongside reading, the use of the flash word technique used at GymbaROO helps children learn about the link between ‘words’ and their meaning. The word shown is always linked to an object that children can feel, see, hear/has a sound, and can sometimes have an action with which it is associated. i.e. jump, hop, climb, run etc. Visual tracking is now also a part of every session. In earlier age groups it has been more incidental, but now it is quite deliberate as children are asked to track a specific item while in a sitting position – up, down, to the right and the left.

Children of this age are also developmentally ready to follow some simple directionality commands – arms up, down, out, and in – sit down and stand up. Whilst keeping to the routine, the content of the session varies considerably as we focus on the aspects of development common to this age. For instance, once an infant is walking, we provide ideas for you and activities for your child that increase balance mechanisms and strengthens their muscle tone in preparation for the exciting stage of 16 months.  We are also aware that this is a time of concentration of infants in overcoming gravity as they gain the ability to move in an upright position. Speech at this stage takes a back seat, but the first stage of speech is the ability to understand simple instructions, so this is also part of our aim during these months. Combination sessions such as PENGUIN/KOALAS cater for both developmental levels – teachers offer individual activity options within these groups.

KOALAS – 18 months to 2 years

At this age toddlers are walking with greater balance, running everywhere and climbing everything!  Jumping is the exciting new skill at this age with two feet together, and of course hanging with two hands and arms together. Scooting along on push-alongs is definitely in! All movement actions in a GymbaROO class are now delivered more slowly in order to promote voluntary movements by the little ones on their own! At this age, not only are their developing skills strengthened, but they are becoming able to initiate body movements, not possible before, as they enter the dramatic growth spurt of the two year olds.

For some, speech is developing, for others they are still perfecting their motor skills.  Toddlers are beginning to understand descriptive words, such as ‘big’ and ‘little’, and concept words such as ‘over’ and ‘under’.  As they climb the equipment we encourage parents to repeatedly use concept words so that not only do they hear the word, they also move accordingly – ‘over the ladder’, ‘under the bar’ and ‘through the tunnel’. This improves speech and word usage, and provides the automatic understanding of what these concepts mean. Linking the word to the movement really embeds the concept in the mind. These concepts are important for later writing skills – to write a letter you need to move the pencil up, down and around to create the required shape. Toddlers can now follow two commands in a row. In the GymbaROO class everything is now geared to introducing and strengthening the toddler’s ability to follow two commands in all activities possible, i.e. collect a puffa ball and sit on it! 

We continue to sing well known nursery rhymes, or songs from the program CD’s. Toddlers are now attempting to join in with enthusiasm! Music stimulates movement and learning in a fun and exciting way. Movement in rhythm both musical and without music – the basis of coordination, is encouraged through both exercises and dance activities and especially through the continuation of the ‘crocodile’. This is the stage where we introduce rhythm sticks, as we not only use them for rhythm, but for fine motor work. The development of the fine motor muscles of the hands and fingers comes after the gross motor stage of the bigger muscles of the body that enable us to walk upright.  Rhythm sticks can now be used for rhythm time with more body awareness and auditory commands increased to two at a time. Crossing the overhead ladder is now part of every session. As is the ‘crocodile’ movement during the massage session. These essential skills provide our brain with the neuronal pathways and connections that create the foundational platforms for later learning. Toddlers are starting to learn their colours. Matching of colours is done on every possible occasion, with the beanbags, ladder rungs and parachute.  Do not expect them to know the colours yet – matching comes before colour identification.

WALLABY/ROOS – 2 to 3 years and over

Wallabies are really into jumping on and off anything they can find… including your bed! Each hemisphere of the brain can now control the movements of each side of the body in coordination, and by 20 months, many can actually move their body parts on their own, this is the reason we begin to do very different activities in the GymbaROO program. It is at this age that children begin to think that they have control of their bodies. At GymbaROO all our mat time action time activities are therefore slowed so that children have time to move themselves. This is how they learn to perfect their body awareness and movement control. The ‘crocodile’ movement continues during the massage session due to its importance in body coordination and reflex inhibition.

Dances are sequential now, in an endeavour to help children move and think – as they can now move their body parts with ease and hopefully in rhythm. Specific Sensory Perceptual Movement program activities are introduced at this level and form an essential part of equipment time. We encourage all children to cross under the overhead ladder as strong upper body control is essential for later fine motor control of a pencil. If the large muscles of the body are strong, then the smaller muscles of the hands and fingers are more likely to be strong and more easily controlled to manipulate a pen or pencil for writing. The ability to do one thing with the limb of one side of the body and another with the limb on the other side allows for the important stage of conscious cross pattern movements, which are the final attributes of nature to help the child’s growing brain to work to the best of its ability. Classes for older children are reduced in size and teachers offer individual activity options within these groups.

Why is each developmental stage important?

It is similar to growth of a tree.


IN UTERO AND BIRTH Genes, nutrician, metabolic & structural influcences that contiue through life to be vital to health and learning


BabyROO NON MOBILE BABIES rolling and head control - Cerebellum

MOBILE BABIES commando crawling and creeping on hands and knees - Pons and Midbrain


12 - 18 mths walking, body awareness and bilateral movements - Early Cortex - upright

18mths - 24 mths jumping, language, balance and increased independant movements - Early Cortex - upright


2 - 2.5 yrs Integration of the two brain hemispheres - Cortex - critical for reading and writing

2.5 - 3 yrs Completion of the integration, right and left awareness - Cortex - able to cross the midline


3 - 4 yrs Hopping, thinking and moving at the same time - Neocortex - specialisation of each side of brain (laterality)

4 - 5 yrsSkipping, follows sequential instructions, cross pattern marching - Neocortex - school readiness program

SCHOOL Reading, writing, music, sport, language, art, emotional intelligence and more - Neocortex

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