October 22, 2018 — By Wendy Sachs
Available these days, there are a whole host of classes for infants and toddlers but are those classes really beneficial to your little one? Well, there is little hard evidence but let’s investigate.
Music Class for Infants
Music classes, like the ones offered by Making Music, really makes a difference. This study found that babies enrolled in an active music experience beginning at age 6 months had “superior development of prelinguistic communicative gestures and social behavior” than children who just listened to music at home while playing. And because the class is guided, it improves the quality of the interactions between adult caregivers and the child, improving vocabulary and other language and social emotional skills.
Outdoors Class for Toddlers
A new class called Tinkergarten, offers outdoor education for children from age 18 months. This program and others that offer kids experiences with nature and playing in the mud has some significant benefits. Outdoor play keeps kids healthy, gives rich sensory stimulus and provides gross motor opportunities so that young children stretch and grow. (Harvard Study) More and more time for children is spent indoors so extra time in nature is always a good idea. Outdoor classes encourage us to keep using natural spaces as true learning opportunities and more than just playgrounds.
Swim Class for Babies
Another newcomer to the baby class list is the infant swim class. The most popular of these are Infant Swim Resource classes. These classes are a bit more controversial. There is plenty of research that shows that teaching babies survival swimming at a young age decreases cases of drowning and can also have a positive affect on brain development, coordination and motor development. But there is no governing body or certification for ISR swim teachers you may end up in a class that offers little more than splashing about in the water for a pricey cost. So for this class do your research.
Gymnastics and Tumbling for Infants and Up
A stalwart in toddler classes is gymnastics. Places like The Little Gym offer a wide variety of classes from infancy all the way through school age. Kids get a chance to stretch and build muscles and practice their new physical skills in a safe space. They also learn to follow rules and patterns. Most importantly they get a chance to take safe risks, which builds self confidence. These classes may not be for every child, they can be sensory overloading for some with lots of bright colors and too many loud noises.
There are many other options such as sign language, sensory classes, art, or gym. Most of these classes have not been researched and there is little to no oversight or regulation on these offerings. However, we do know that as winter approaches, classes give moms and nannies a chance to be out and about despite weather conditions. This is so crucial as being home alone all day with even the most amazing child can be isolating. Keeping a caregiver and baby happy for sure will result in a win-win home life for everyone.