We’re used to hearing about back walkovers, backward rolls and back handsprings, but backward…planning? Backward planning is a concept I used when I taught Kindergarten, but it’s also great for planning preschool gym sessions and skill progressions.
What Is It?
Well, simply put, it means planning with the end as the starting point. Basically, you set a skills or progression goal and create a plan of action to achieve it by working backward.
So, let's say at the end of a six-week session of preschool, you want all of your four-year-olds to be doing a forward roll - straddle jump - finish combination. You take that combination and break it down into smaller, easier to teach stepping-stones to achieve that goal, working backward to week one.
How To Use It
If we use a forward roll-straddle jump-finish example, you can easily create a ‘Rock and Roll’ week to specifically work rolls, or the skills can be embedded in your existing theme.
Identify your starting point by asking, “Where do my gymnasts have to be at the end of the session/year/term? How will I know if they learned everything I want them to learn?”
Then work your way backward. For example:
- Week 6*- Forward roll-straddle jump-finish combination (*This is where you start planning and work backward)
- Week 5- Forward roll-stand up-straight jump-finish on the floor
- Week 4- Forward rolls on eight incher, feet land on the ground, stand up, straight jump, finish.
- Week 3- Forward rolls off an eight incher, stand up on the ground. Straddle jumps in warm up. Teach finish in warm up. (Progress check! Make any adjustments to plan).
- Week 2- Straddle position. Straddle jumps on trampoline and straddle hangs on bars. Land and finish after letting go of the bar. Tuck and roll to stand up during warm up.
- Week 1*- Hand, feet and chin placement for forward rolls. Forward rolls down a wedge. Introduce names of positions in warm up. (*This is where you finish planning)
Why It Works
Backward planning is perfect for preschool. The result is a better planned, better organized and more focused series of lesson plans, making it easier for other coaches to understand your directions when they teach their classes. If your entire staff knows the end goal, it keeps them focused and on target when teaching (I mean, who doesn’t get distracted by the bunch of excited four year olds in front of you every class?)
Backward planning is also an effective tool for parent communication. You can talk to parents about the end of session goals, or print the goals and steps in your monthly preschool newsletter. If parents know what the goals of the session are, there are fewer questions at the end of your term about why their child has or has not moved up to the next level.
Overall, backward planning will be an effective way to stay focused during the session and really make progress with your gymnasts.
Try it and let me know what you think! Post a comment below about how you can use backward planning in your program.