Classes for Little Kids
During the first five or six years of life, children do well alone or in groups for physical activities, but cannot grasp the concept of competition until they are closer to school age. You can choose from various dance classes, pee-wee sports teams, and gymnastics classes, some of which might allow you to join in on the fun!
Aside from the independent activities you can teach your child at home, enrolling him in formalized classes can also be of benefit if you keep in mind a few simple rules:
- Look for classes where competition is avoided. Classes should focus solely on your child's individual progress and exploration, and not force her to do certain activities for which she may not be strong or coordinated enough.
- Look for age-appropriate activities and toys. Simple concepts are the key to keeping your child's interest and avoiding the frustration that comes from struggling to use a toy with which she does not identify.
- If you must choose a class to attend, keep it to a minimum. For children having too much or too little to do can work adversely. To avoid burnout or boredom, do smaller activities from home, and only once or twice a week attend a formalized class.
While there are many types of classes that offer physical activity, some of the most popular choices for movement classes include dance, yoga, and gymnastics/tumbling. Most classes do accept infants through youth, but the focus with the pre-crawling infant would be the same as what you would be doing with him from home, only with the addition of other parents and babies with whom you would both interact.
Dance classes explore movement in a natural way, using props such as ribbons, banners, and costumes. Movement styles include:
Yoga incorporates the idea of balancing the body through targeted stretching and deep breathing exercises. Some of the movements are similar to gymnastics and dance, appealing to children and adults alike. Others, like the child's pose and the butterfly pose, are stretches that seem to come naturally to many youngsters.
Gymnastics and tumbling classes range in difficulty, and are aimed at keeping exercise fun and creative. Examples of toddler movement include:
- Jumping on balance beams
- Donkey kicking
As those skills are mastered, more challenging activities are offered. Props such as balance beams, uneven bars, tunnels, mini-tramps, trampolines, and various mats are just some of the many used. Your child will learn:
- Rolls on balance beams
As with anything, never force your child to do one activity over another, and take the time to observe his interests and strengths. Encourage him to explore self-expression through exercise from home first, and don't be afraid to join him—remember, you are the active role model!