Pre-school activities are becoming more and more popular and if you live in the 'right' sort of areas, there's just about everything on offer.
The most dominating genre would be sport and why not? There's nothing wrong with encouraging a healthy lifestyle through exercise from a very young age. Just flicking through my latest copy of 'The Family Grapevine' (my local children's directory) I come across dancing, swimming, football, karate and gymnastics to name the most popular. Moo, our daughter, does football with Little Kickers which is a franchise-based pre-school activity which started in the UK and has since expanded all around the world. She's been doing this since she was eighteen months, football is a big deal to my husband who is a football coach and his brother who is the goal-keeper for one of our local teams down here in sunny Sussex.
The are lots of things to consider when selecting a pre-school activity for your child which I will quickly run through.
- Pick something that is suited to them. I know that the idea of them prancing around in a tutu is enough to make your ovaries ache, trust me...I know. But is your climbing-since-eleven-months-old toddler really ready to stand still and follow instructions like ballet? I know mine isn't (sigh). Or is your future-football star really more interested in doing his own thing and not the games laid out for them? Yes, children learn but like adults, some things are not for them and finding something that they enjoy is the point here.
- Don't force it. Please don't be one of those people. The parent that drags their toddler to an activity they hate and don't participate in. Not only is it a waste of your money, it puts a strain on the both of you and potentially disrupts other children who are willing to participate. They may not be ready or they may not be interested. Take a step back, maybe try something else or try again in three months. No responsible business owner/coach/teacher would want you distressing your child for the sake of your money in their pocket. If they do then you'd be best seeking an alternative (see further down).
- Be conscious of your budget. Don't get involved in something that will potentially become costly and put a strain on your finances if you think you will struggle to work it into your budget. Performing arts are wonderful and I did years of it growing up. It's only now as an adult that I look back and realise how much money I cost my poor, long-suffering father. On top of classes there was my uniform and three types of shoes. Then there were my medals and awards, my practising for said awards and also for performances. Costumes, rehearsals and performances for which he had to attend EVERY ONE. Factor in the time he had to take off of work and petrol money driving me to all of these things...yeah...I was expensive. It's only now as I am conscious of money that I realise these things. If I am honest, right now I could not afford for Moo to do this. Look at costings of things; most pre-school activities will have a one-off registration followed by your weekly class fee. Generally with activities for this age, any uniform or kit is included in the registration. Your local children's centre will also run a selection of free or very low priced activities and will have information on others that are going on around you. My local library has a range of children's story and music activities. Local church halls and community centres often run their own play groups and small activities for usually only a couple of pounds a time. Remember, a huge part of this is your child learning to interact with others.
- Things to ask. There are lots of things to consider when choosing an activity. The first and foremost should always be are they CRB registered. You like to think that this is obvious but you'd be surprised how many people don't bother. Find out if you are required to stay with your child, if not, are they offstead registered? Find out if they do a free-trial so that you can try the activity before you invest your money into it. The first session won't always give you an answer either way but it will give you an idea of what it is they get up to in that time. Ask if there are any additional costs; will they need special equipment or clothing? Always find out if the classes are term-time only or all year round. A lot of providers will penalise you for not attending, even if you thought it wasn't running because it's half term.
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, don't second guess yourself. If you think that the coach/teacher is too abrupt with your child or you're not getting good value for money, speak up. Remember that typically these activities are people's businesses, that the people working with your child are doing a job. Do not accept anything less than a great experience. A business owner would not want unhappy customers or to pay staff that are not good at their jobs. Feedback should be given where necessary, don't be afraid to speak up and if things don't change, consider changing activity/provider. Would you go back to a restaurant with bad service and/or food? No. AND your child's happiness is longer lasting than a bit of tummy-ache and over-priced tip!
So if you're considering enrolling your child in to a pre-school activity, take your time, try several things and remember that the name of the game is fun!
Image owned by Little Kickers
Some great nation-wide activities are;
There will be lots and lots of local businesses to, try your local children's directory, Netmums or children's centres!
Labels: activities, preschool, Sport, toddlers