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What should we do today...choosing classes and activities for your child
March 20, 2015
Music, dance, sign language, swimming, gymnastics, language immersion, soccer, art… Today the array of enriching activities available for toddlers and young children is dizzying. Many classes are marketed as essential for your child’s development and school readiness. But classes are expensive and not every class is right for every child. How do you choose among the available options? Do classes really result in school readiness?
The two most important things to consider when choosing an activity are:
Are classes a good use of my family’s time and money?
Extra-curricular activities should never be scheduled during nap or meal time, hungry and sleepy children will not get much out of class. There is plenty of time to become overscheduled, preserve open schedules for young children as long as possible.
Children will get the most out of classes when they attend regularly. Once a child learns to predict the class’s routines, she will spend less time trying to figure out what is going on and more time paying attention to what they are teaching. If you are not able to attend a class regularly it is best to keep looking.
Classes are expensive. Remember that no child failed to get a college degree because he missed an enrichment class. These classes are nice to have to mix up your day and provide new stimulation for your child. But they are not a must have by any means! You can provide all the stimulation your child needs at home. Check out the activities on Zero to Three’s School Readiness Interactive Birth to 3 website for age appropriate activities for toddlers.
Is the class a good fit for my child?
Perhaps one of the most important is to consider how your child responds to the teacher. Is your child interested in the teacher? Is the teacher able to make your little one smile, grab her attention, and encourage participation? Is the teacher flexible with the moods of toddlers and preschoolers?
You should also consider the activities the class provides. Classes for young children should be fun and flexible allowing your child freedom to explore, get some energy out, and learn some new things. The goal should not be to learn a specific skill but rather to explore a set of materials, activities, ad social interactions. You do not want a class that has activities your child finds too easy or too difficult. You should also avoid classes your child finds over-stimulating. After the first few classes if your child is crying, seems to be unusually clingy, or spaces out and/ or falls asleep during class, it is not a good fit.