4 Steps to Creating Perfect Parent Tot Stations


Creating engaging, age appropriate parent tot stations is a challenge. Sometimes, it can seem overwhelming to create stations for such young gymnasts...and their parents. But what if you bought some lesson plans that included parent tot modifications for each week? Done! In one week, I’ll be releasing a new batch of Happy Gymnastics lesson plans (Yippee!) Parent tot stations and modifications are included with each plan.

It’s one of the most attractive features of Happy Gymnastics lesson plans and I’ve worked hard on creating new station ideas and modifications for our little ones.  

There are some steps to follow to create surefire successful stations that will leave your gymnasts and their parents excited for more. These are the steps I use when creating the parent tot modifications on Happy Gymnastics lesson plans.

1. Know Thy Milestones

When planning for parent tot classes, start with developmental milestones. It is best to start with the milestones to get a clear idea of the development stages of the age group in parent tot classes. I mean, if you don’t know what typically developing two year olds can do, it will be difficult to create stations for them, am I right? :)

So,  what can two year olds do? Lots of stuff!


2 Year Old Developmental Milestones

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Knowledge of what is developmentally appropriate is important to keep your young gymnasts safe as well. It keeps coaching expectations in check and provides some parameters during your creative process when lesson planning.

2. Build In Smoochies

Parent tot classes are all about bonding. These classes are magnets for new, first time parents looking to have fun while bonding with their baby.

Your class may be a family’s first experience with an adventure outside of the home, so it’s important to incorporate meaningful parent-child connection stations (ie: you’ve got to knock their socks off!)

Each week, at least a few of your stations should have an element where parent and child can connect in a loving way. Think about how parents and toddlers interact (hugs, smoochie kisses, tickles, holding hands, etc) and build stations around that idea.   

Bonding station ideas from upcoming Happy Gym plans:

  • Child lays back on octagon roly mat. Parent lays on the floor. Coach gently rocks the child back to get a kiss from parent. Coach rocks child back up to feet.
  • Child hangs on the bar and give ‘foot fives’ to parent.

3. Watch and Learn

Some of my best ideas come from watching my own toddler at a gym or on the playground. She uses equipment in ways I hadn’t thought of, and sometimes makes the station I made even better.

You can also get ideas from observing your own PT classes. Once during a PT class, a mom was naturally holding her child’s hands, while stomping on a squishy mat. The child was having a great time adjusting to the squishiness and movement of the mat, while mom was loving hearing her child giggle. So, I made that into a station called “squishy stomps” and the kids loved it.

Bring your pencil and paper to preschool open gym. Observe two year olds at play to pick up ideas from them. Sometimes, children are your best teachers.

PT ideas from new Happy Gym lesson plans gathered from observation:

  • Use the rainbow mat. Child slides down the mat on their bottom, landing on feet. Forward roll when feet hit the floor, fast. (I learned this one from my toddler)
  • Line-up foam blocks on the edge of the pit. Baby gymnasts kick them in with reckless abandon. Add back kicks if kids are up for the challenge. It’s even better if parent is in the pit trying to ‘catch’ the foam blocks.

4. Treat Yo Self

When I’m struggling to get creative, I buy some new props. Changing it up helps me break out of my rut. Visit the dollar store, a teacher store (you can find very durable props there because they’re designed for heavy use), or your favorite spot to find new props (hello, Ikea!).

You can see how other people are using the props, but often inspiration will hit when the prop arrives and you play with it a little. Simply changing the prop on an old station can make it morph into something new and engaging (even if it’s the same activity). You can find inspiration and your parent tot classes will love to use new props to keep things fresh in class.

Possible Unique Props to Use:

  • Small wooden spoons
  • Paintbrushes
  • Making anything into a tent

Ready For More!

Using these guidelines to make parent tot stations will ensure you always keep things fresh, creative and enjoyable. It’s the process I use when I make the PT stations for Happy Gym lesson plans!

Formula: milestones+bonding+observation+gymnastics+inspiration=perfect parent tot station

So, if you’d like more parent tot station ideas:

  • Head over to the Shop, purchase any lesson plan, and you’ll find the parent tot modifications and stations included in each plan!
  • Rock on with your bad self and go coach wicked great parent tot classes.