Tumbling: how to teach it to pre-schoolers in gym class?

Tumbling: how to teach it to pre-schoolers in gym class?

Tumbling: for toddlers this is often an exciting and tricky affair. We often see that the children, as soon as they hang upside down, tend to let go of their hands from the horizontal bar/trapeze. This article shows you how to prevent this and how to make sure that the children can tumble backwards and forwards without fear!

Roll over

Toddlers must be familiar with rolling to be able to dare to dive on a horizontal bar/in the rings/on a trapeze pole. So in any case offer many forms of rolling in your lesson. Think of sideway rolls, such as the ‘pancake’ roll, the somersault from a sloping surface, and maybe also a backwards somersault from a sloping surface!


Tumbling can be done on various apparatuses and in two ways. You can tumble forwards and backwards. Appliances on which you can practise are: rings, horizontal bar, bridge, trapeze bar and ropes.

Start by tumbling in a soft and safe environment, where the child lands gently if he or she does let go of the device. An example of a soft and safe situation is a relatively low rack or trapeze with a thick mattress underneath.

Another relatively easy situation to start tumbling is in the rings. Because the rings rotate with the child and because the child can already bend far forward before he/she jumps off the ground, this feels like a safe way for the toddler to go over the top.

Tumbling together

A nice variation is to do this with a friend in gym class. Think of tumbling at the same time, or helping each other with the task. You can do this by giving your friend a ‘foot’, like in the film below.

With small material

Another variation, especially to improve the ability to tumble, is to use teething bags. Place them under the chin, between the knees or between the feet to force the toddler to keep his legs together and his chin on his chest.


Providing assistance at tumbling is often done by keeping one hand on the wrist and one hand on the back. This can be done both when going forwards and backwards.


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