There’s a new game in town.
Teddy Tennis is a unique approach to teaching young ones how to play tennis like a pro (well at least it gets them on their way). It’s a sports, training, education, entertainment and lifestyle program all rolled into one, for kids aged 2½ to 6.
Partners in life and business, Jason and Dahlia Kruyer, run Teddy Tennis Canberra, and are just as thrilled as the kids with the results.
“We teach Teddy Tennis using the proven Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic learning style,” says Jason. “This blends visual learning, auditory learning and physical learning. Most importantly, it’s all about fun. The kids think they’re playing, not learning.”
Parents, teachers and day care operators who have seen Teddy Tennis in action are big fans.
One of the pioneering adopters of the Teddy Tennis service is Fyshwick’s Artemis Early Learning. Director at Artemis, Rebecca Sleeman, says Teddy Tennis motivates kids while teaching them essential gross motor skills. “It gets them interested in physical activities and keeps them engaged which is so important,” says Rebecca. “We have lessons for our two preschool rooms every Friday and the kids really look forward to it.”
A big plus of Teddy Tennis is that it doesn’t require a tennis court. It’s easily transportable and can be played anywhere. It’s taught during the week in early learning centres, nurseries and day cares, and on weekends in indoor sports centres. Indoor settings are preferred because kids burn a lot of energy playing Teddy Tennis. Temperature-controlled environments protect them from overheating and dehydrating in summer or getting too cold and losing focus in winter.
Teddy Tennis builds hand-eye coordination, movement skills, racket skills, ball skills, confidence and the self-esteem of kids.
“The first week some are shy and you see them hiding behind their parents’ or educators’ legs,” says Dahlia. “It doesn’t take long before they break free. The next thing we know, they arrive with the biggest smiles on their faces, eager to greet their new friends and excited to show off their new skills.”
The kids are also attracted to the cute Teddy Bear theme woven through everything Teddy Tennis does. Each class, term and level focuses on a different Teddy Bear and the kids get teddy stickers for their report cards. Once they’ve filled their report cards, they’re awarded with teddy certificates and medals.
“They wear Teddy Tennis t-shirts just like we do and so have a strong sense of belonging. We call the kids ‘Cub Cadets’, which they love and they call us Head Ted and Darly Bear,” says Dahlia.
Teddy Tennis began in England but now operates all around the world. Jason and Dahlia first learned of it when Jason was in South Africa. It’s a perfect business for the couple, who had been living in Australia for 12 years before buying the franchise.
“Jason has always loved playing tennis and being part of tennis communities and I’ve worked with children for most of my life, plus we both love children, so it seemed like a perfect match,” said Dahlia.
The kids first learn visually, including with pictures, demonstrations and videos of teddy bear characters playing tennis. This information is then transferred through listening to spoken words, music and sounds. The music, specifically written by Teddy Tennis for Teddy Tennis, provides the correct rhythm and timing for each game or exercise and the words of the music tell the kids what to do.
Next is the physical participation—the doing. The kids learn through practical hands-on experiences and taking part in coordinated movement. It’s a fully interactive approach.
“It’s not too long before they can do volleys, backhands and forehands,” says Jason. “And it’s wonderful seeing their massive smiles when they master something difficult for their age. They jump up and down and are so proud of themselves.”
For day cares interested in running classes, the folks behind Teddy Tennis give free demonstrations to child-care centres and schools. Classes run weekly during the school term. Some schools in Canberra also offer Teddy tennis holiday programs.
If Teddy Tennis isn’t played at your child’s school and you would like to bring them along for Teddy Tennis lessons on the weekend then you can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org