More and more, it seems, there are so many different kinds of activities and classes geared to the little ones. Deciding which ones to try and which to pass on sometimes gets confusing.
There are all the wonderful music classes that encourage you to bring your baby before he can even hold his head up. Then you can move on to toddler gymnastics with the tots bopping about on the mats and trampolines. An art class can seem like a great idea when you want to keep the finger-painting mess out of the house. Learning to swim is a necessity, for safety's sake. Language lessons? Everyone says learning a second language early is the way to go. What about the lovely, free storytimes at local libraries and bookshops? Why wouldn't you? And by the time the kiddos are three, they're ready for drop-off classes. Now that sounds like a godsend, doesn't it? Sign me up! But for which one?
Crazily enough, choosing between all these possibilities can start to feel overwhelming. And it's not just that you first want to find out whether these classes actually any good before spending precious time and money. It's also that the activities children pursue can, later on, become such an important part of their lives and identities. How do we figure out what their interests really are, and what, in the long run, will make them happiest?
Luckily, these activity choices for preschoolers are not actually all that momentous. You may choose one thing for your tot before she can express a preference, but soon enough she'll be letting you know her own ideas on what she wants to do -- and you'll be smart to listen. But more importantly: what really makes the little ones happiest, and what they often learn the most from, is plenty of free time for play. (Can't stress that enough.) If they already spend long hours at preschool or daycare, it's probably best to choose just one extra structured activity, if any. Young children really need their downtime. On the other hand, if they are not in school, or school hours are limited, a few classes a week can be a great thing for kids and parents.
So be sure to look at the big picture (schedule-wise) and the long view (life-wise), and keep in mind a few of our Tuesday tips for thinking through all the choices:
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