Finding a Class for Your Little Learner
Author: Jeannie Fleming-Gifford
You’ve made it home. You’re settled, and now you can’t wait to experience every opportunity being a parent has for you. One such opportunity is participating in some of the many class offerings designed specifically for babies and their mamas and/or daddies.
Many times facilitated by early childhood specialists, programs are designed to be developmentally appropriate to your infant’s age and stage and provide a multitude of benefits.
Some programs may target physical development (i.e. swimming), while others provide sensory explorations (i.e. visual arts programs). Library story times and music discovery programs promote language development and also stimulate the senses. All programs provide a chance to connect with other young families, as well as simply supporting your role in the journey through parenthood and providing positive experiences for social-emotional growth for your infant.
Whatever your interest or location, you can bet you’ll find some program that will be of interest to you and your child.
Where to start? Explore the many types of programs available and identify those of interest to you and your family. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
*Art Classes (look for a community center for the arts and/or local art studio in your area): Dress for mess and go for fun. Painting (be sure non-toxic, washable paints are used) can provide a wonderful sensory experience for even the littlest learners. You may be surprised what little hands can do! In some programs art classes may be combined with a music offering, creating a wonderful multi-arts experience for you and your munchkin.
*Library Story Times (generally free of charge and offered through your local library system): Usually facilitated by the children’s librarian, chances are you will find much more than a story or two in these programs. Most often 30 minutes or so in duration, library story times may consist of stories, singing, puppet shows, movement activities (i.e. scarf dancing), and even bubbles!
*Music & Movement Classes (examples may include such national programs as Gymboree® and Kindermusik®, or a local, start-up group that perhaps meets at a local church or library): Well-defined and established, music and movement programs such as those mentioned above may keep you and your baby moving and grooving for quite some time. Programs provide hands-on learning through movement and song.
*Sign Language Classes (generally offered by individuals certified through a national program; you may find classes through a local search): You don’t have to wait till middle school or even preschool for you and your baby to learn a new language. With a little searching, you may find a sign language class for you and your infant. Check out national programs such as Baby Signs® to locate a class in your area.
*Swim & Gym (usually offered by the YMCA or other health/fitness organizations): As the title says, these programs are a mix of swim and gym time. Generally geared for infants 6 months and older, you may find you and your little one immersed in song, moving and grooving, and water exploration.
Wherever you go and whatever you do, have fun and enjoy the learning process with your baby!