Colleen, a mother of two from Wilmington, DE, knew she had found the right activity for her 5-year old son Shane, when he asked continuously about his next guitar lesson. “He would repeat over and over, ‘I can’t wait to go to guitar,’” she reports. Although people advised her that her son was too young to learn guitar, lessons at We Kids Rock kept him engaged and enthusiastic.
It isn’t easy to find the right class for your child. There are many choices, and families must contend with issues such as over-scheduling, cost and transportation. But classes also can provide high rewards, from helping high-energy kids to develop physical dexterity to building social skills for shy preschoolers. Here are suggestions by age to find a class that fits your child.
Toddlers & Preschoolers
“You pretty much can’t go wrong with a toddler, as long as it’s age appropriate,” says Therese Walden-Murphy, director of the West Chester Studio for Performing Arts. The goal is just to get toddlers moving and interacting with other children. Because young kids learn from nearly everything, any sort of mental stimulation is good.
Little kids are sometimes fickle, says Bill Currier, owner of We Kids Rock in Wilmington. “Never assume that they’re not having fun,” says Currier. He also notes that “9 times out of 10 if the parent enjoys the class, the kids will enjoy it too.”
“Some kids have a tendency to be interested in anything and everything,” says Walden-Murphy. They can also be mercurial. “They can hate something one minute and love it the next,” notes Gary Klosner, director of Dynamic Language Services in Haddonfield, NJ. Parents must help their child narrow the choices. Your child’s body type may help you to evaluate whether she has an athletic build, dancer’s legs, or nimble fingers for playing an instrument.
Tweens and Teens
Older kids will usually give you the straight story about what activities they like, says Katie Opher, program manager for the Center on Central in Paoli, PA. Before signing up for a class, Opher recommends gauging your tween’s or teens’ energy and schedule to see if a new activity makes sense. Take into consideration homework and other extracurricular activities.
The Right Fit for You Too
Andrew Hoff, owner of Tri-State CheerNastics in New Castle, DE, advises parents to consider time and financial commitments that will be required. How often will kids be expected to practice and how often will they compete / perform? Will there be expenses for equipment, shoes, costumes, uniforms, competitions or travel? Learn “exactly what you’re getting into,” says Hoff.
Suzanne Koup-Larsen is a contributing writer to MetroKids.