A stay at home Mum who doesn't stay at home much; too many exciting things to be discovering in this city...
Published March 25th 2012
So; you're stuck at home all day with a demanding 6 month old and a restless 3 year old. What do you do to retain your already diminishing sanity?
Well, faced with the demanding 6 month old myself, I trawled through the many dozens of leaflets at my local Maternal and Child Health Nurse's office and decided to enrol my little one in a gymnastics class. I'm sure some people reading this will think that at this point, my sanity had already fled. What would a baby gain from going to gymnastics?
GymbaROO was the highlight of my son's week when he was a year old.
There are a plethora of baby, toddler and kinder classes advertised and I am a firm believer that the majority of them have a very positive impact on little ones and their parents. From a purely selfish point of view, one of my motives for joining a class was to get out of the house (and away from the piles of washing) and mix with other parents in the same situation. From a more altruistic point of view, my baby was going to meet other babies, become familiar with a new and stimulating environment and maybe make it to the Olympics one day (still working on that). Most importantly, I was hoping we would both have fun.
So what exactly is out there? Your local community centre/neighbourhood house will most likely run a wide variety of sessions for a range of different ages, with activities generally based around sport/exercise, dance, music and art. You should be able to pick up a hard copy of the term's timetable and/or look at their website for details. As mentioned previously, your local Maternal and Child Health Centre should also have plenty of leaflets to have a browse through. Individual franchises, such as Hey-dee-ho Music and Little Kickers also have their own websites which give lists of locations and timetables. It's worth noting that these types of franchises (the big names in kids' classes) charge significantly more that the groups you will find at your local community centre. I'm not saying that they're not worth it, because they are generally very professionally run – it's just something you might wish to consider when choosing a class.
Our personal experiences so far have generally been extremely positive. For a year, from the age of 6 months, my little boy attended weekly GymbaROO sessions, in the BabyROO class. They were very efficiently run by a wonderful team who were dedicated to the physical development of the babies in the class. Each 45 minute session was a structured mix of free play on the gymnastics equipment, and floor time together which involved singing, massage and activities promoting fine and gross motor skills. My son came out of the womb wanting to run so this was the perfect class for him and I believe it encouraged him to crawl and then walk at a relatively young age.
After a successful 6 months of BabyROO, followed by another 6 months of GymbaROO, we moved on to Mini Maestros (my rough idea was to do a year of gymnastics, a year of music and a year of sport and then see where we were at). This had been recommended by a friend as a great introduction to the world of music so off we went – little one was now 18 months old. Over a year later, we are still enjoying Mini Maestros classes, because my son loves them so much I haven't the heart to stop them. His 45 minute class (30 minutes for the babies) involves singing, dancing, playing instruments and using puppets and is run expertly by a qualified music teacher. Most of the children in his class love joining in with the songs, making up actions and marching around the room, full of self-importance wildly waving scarves or banging drums. Mini Maestros even hold an annual concert where every child or baby takes to the stage to show their families what they've learnt. Seeing my son on the stage at the tender age of 2 and a half was priceless, even if he did refuse to join in the song with the rest of his class!
We are still looking for a sports class to join soon. We completed a free trial session of Playball, which for some reason just didn't quite hit the spot. I also looked into Soccer Time Kids which seemed a little pricey considering we were already paying for quite a few other activities and I am now waiting for my little one to turn 3, so that we can try out a kinder sports program offered by our local community centre – watch this space.
Besides the obvious advantages of learning to climb, learning to clap in time or learning how to kick a ball, I find that these little classes are beginning to instil measures of self worth, confidence and self control in my son, which are things that you can't put a price on.
Bubhub has a list of classes and links to websites which may be a good starting point if you're looking for an activity to start with your little one. It is not exhaustive so look further afield if you can't find what you're after.
Thank you! I too have enrolled bub into gym class since he was 3 months old and he loves them as much as I do! Seriously considering Mini Maestros next year too! I think activity and interaction are extremely important!