Tiny Tumblers: Playtime with a purpose
They run. They turn somersaults (actually, “forward roll” is the appropriate gymnastics term). Some even stand on their heads.
Tiny Tumblers, the El Dorado Hills Community Services District’s newest class for preschoolers, teaches toddlers the basics of gymnastics through obstacle courses, music and rhythm games.
Under the enthusiastic direction of instructor Hollie Stroncak kids develop motor skills they can apply to virtually every area of their lives.
A crowd of 2- and 3-year-olds gathers in a semicircle around an extremely animated Stroncak on a Thursday morning. She leads them in improvised songs complimenting each other’s outfits.
“Jacob, can we sing a song about the really neat shirt you’re wearing?” She asks one young boy. He nods and she bursts into song.
After a sing along, the kids jump into activities that include a balance beam, mini trampoline and forward rolls down foam wedges. They also get the rare opportunity to smack rhythm sticks against a padded gymnasium floor to music, and play a little basketball through a kid-sized hoop.
Parents and grandparents often tag along. Many say they notice a positive change in the child’s social and motor skills almost right away.
Isi Merriner brings her great-grandson, Tommy, 3, to Tiny Tumblers twice a week. Merriner said in only a couple of weeks she’s seen significant improvement in both Tommy’s coordination and sociability.
“Hollie is a really great teacher,” she said. “This really helps him as an only child to learn to play with other children … he’s very joyful here.”
Of course it probably helps that the teacher appears to be having as much fun as the students.
“I can’t believe I get paid to do this,” Stroncak said candidly at the end of class. “I’m having so much fun teaching this class.”
A former competitive gymnast and cheerleader, Stroncak grew up in El Dorado Hills and got her own start in gymnastics through the CSD 30 years ago. She graduated from Oak Ridge in 1994 and has spent the past 16 years teaching preschool and kindergarten, as well as coaching gymnastics and cheer at area schools like All Star, Technique, Pozsar’s and others.
Stroncak got the idea to teach a beginning gymnastics class when signing up her own children for CSD activities.
“I asked about gymnastics. The lady said to me, ‘we really need a teacher,’” she said. “So I offered to put a class together.”
Stroncak currently teaches three sections of the class — one for new walkers through 2-year-olds, one for 2-year-olds, and one for ages 3 and 4. Fees are a modest $56. Additionally, she allows any interested parents or children to try a session for free.
Learn more about Tiny Tumblers at EDHCSD.org.