Picking out activities for your three-year-old

Is Baby a budding artist, a music lover, a ball of energy who is always on the go, or all of the above?

Deciding which activities to sign a young child up for can be a challenge, but there are definitely enough benefits to group activities to make it worth it. Group activities give toddlers the chance to try and practice things they enjoy and to develop social skills along the way.

If Baby has not been to daycare and is not yet in preschool, getting involved in different activities is also a great way for her to meet new friends, and for you to meet other families in your community. Group activities are also a great way for young children to start to get used to being on a schedule that isn’t centered around them, especially if they haven’t been in daycare.

But the fact that group activities, in general, can be great for growing toddlers doesn’t mean that just any group activity will do, and before you sign Baby up for any new activity, it’s helpful to think about whether it will be a good fit for her interests. A very active child, for example, will have a bit more difficulty with an activity that means she needs to sit and stay focused. On the other hand, shyer or more reserved children may be slower to warm up to very interactive, social activities.

Once you’ve decided on an activity, it’s important to keep your expectations realistic. At this age, structured activities are still very new, and Baby may not be quite as ready as you’d thought once the activity gets going. If it seems more stressful than enjoyable for your toddler, it might be time to reassess your choice. On the other hand, activities can be a great way for toddlers to start to get comfortable with skills and activities they’re not familiar with, so giving your little one the chance to try an activity out before deciding whether or not it’s her thing can be helpful, too.

There are a variety of different activities available for children Baby’s age, but here are a few she might be especially ready to try out:

  • Tumbling: If you’ve got a bouncy ball of a toddler on your hands, tumbling and gymnastics can be a great way for her to burn off some of that extra energy, and practice her gross motor skills in a safe, supervised environment, too. Since she is still a little young for most organized sports, tumbling and basic gymnastics classes can be an exciting way to give her the chance to stay active and to start getting used to having an instructor.
  • Art: Kids love making their own masterpieces, and an art class is a great way to let Baby get in touch with her creative side. Libraries often offer the opportunity to make crafts, or you may decide to take her out to sculpt and paint something she has shown an interest in. Art is versatile, fun, and can be an especially great activity when you’re not the one in charge of cleaning up the mess.
  • Music: Instruments and music are great for toddlers’ cognitive development, and there are many classes geared toward young children to help develop their love of music. these classes often give parents the chance to get involved, too, so if Baby is a little on the shyer side, or hasn’t done many activities without you yet, taking a music class together is a great way to ease into a group setting.
  • Dance: Does Baby have some serious rhythm? If she loves to shake it, a dance class may be just the ticket. If she seems ready for a group activity that involves following directions from a teacher, signing her dance could be a great way for her to enjoy music, improve her social skills, and work on some of her more theatrical gross motor skills.
  • Swim: For an activity that’s both fun and practical, swimming lessons are a great way for Baby to get her used to the water, and to start to teach her about basic water safety. You can start by jumping in together to help her feel more secure, or let her go in on her own with the help of a trained instructor. Through swim lessons, she can learn important safety skills, and get some great exercise to boot!

The classes you sign Baby up for won’t necessarily have anything to do with the ones she follows through with as she grows up, but they’re a great way for her to get started exploring her interests.

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