This afternoon Toddler will take her first swimming lesson – with her dad. (… because I’m not a calm influence when it comes to swimming … I swam out of an undertow once at St. Augustine Beach and can swim enough to save myself and my children – I think – but generally am not a fan of water … therefore, this one’s on you, dada!)
Compared to other kids in our area – the greater NYC area, for reference – she is very, very late in starting swim classes in particular and lessons in general. Most people here start swimming at 6m, music classes at 6m-12m, and ballet by 2yo.
Basically, my little girl will be the grandma of today’s class. But am I late in getting her there or are the others much too early?
I admit that I see the benefit of early swim lessons: they don’t become afraid of water, they are safer than if they don’t have lessons, etc. I’d been pushing for early lessons (1.5y), but … since I wanted my husband to take her I didn’t set it up – and neither did he.
And we’ve promised her that once she turns 4yo she can start ballet classes (a mixed ballet/tap class, hopefully, because she loves both), since she is obsessed with ballet.
Why once she’s 4? Well, she can follow directions well (thanks to us and practice at Sunday School and preschool), she knows all her body parts and is pretty competent at arranging them per instruction, and she knows several ballet positions and movements already. In other words, the $600 per year will be worth the money.
Did I think $600 was too much at 2yo for my little girl to wander around a room, examining the ceiling and doing everything but what her teacher asked? Yes. I know my child, and I didn’t think paying that much for “the experience” was an appropriate use of our money. I can – and have – taught her on my own until now.
(And goodness knows dancing to the Nutcracker suite every day is plenty experience on her own – actually her movements are quite good already.)
If you disagree and your child is already at star at 2.5yo, well, I’m excited for your child, but that’s just not for me.
Am I missing out on a critical formative stage? You might think so, but agree to disagree. My generation (I can’t believe I just wrote that … I’m 33) didn’t start organized classes that early, and we turned out quite skilled. Can’t we just play at home and build things like social skills and gross motor coordination via park time and playdates? Can we leave the more intense classes until our kids are a bit older? Let them be free and play uninhibited for now, I say.
From what I see around here, parents are rushing to get their kids into events we didn’t start until kindergarten at the earliest. A friend of mine put her 3yo in soccer, then admitted they just “run around and sometimes kick the ball. I just talk with the other parents.” Hmm. Are these classes just an excuse for our kids to do our hobbies under the guise of family time – or adult socialization?
Well, I guess I would rather spend my time other ways … and my money, too. Two years ago I was cajoled into putting Toddler into a music for $200 including the yearly registration fee. What a waste! For 8 of the 10 classes she didn’t really get into the music at all – and it’s only now that she is singing the songs from that class! Excuse me if I think I could’ve spent that money better somewhere else and just put on a CD at home for her to beat our own tambourine to.
So … here we are, knocking on 4yo and Toddler is just now getting into official classes. We’ll see if she’s behind or not and whether the timing is good. For dance classes, I think yes. We’ll see with swim. But I trust my motherly instincts that the timing is right; I know my child and her attention level and skill level. I may differ with other parents around here, but I’ve liked our “home classes” and think they were worth our time and (non) money.
(Old fuddy duddy rant over.)
What are your thoughts? Are your children/babies already in classes?
By the way, this week will be the start of an updated blogging schedule for me. I’ve been doing M-T-W-F-Sa, but with the longer posts I’m doing now I’m changing to M-T-F-Sa for my sanity. I just can’t keep up with the writing and reading!