As previously explored on the Y’earn blog, the coronavirus pandemic has forced babies and toddlers into an unusually solitary situation which could potentially affect their mental health and ability to connect with others.
Although it is possible to mitigate the mental health effects of lockdown while remaining indoors, parents should take advantage of relaxed restrictions to immerse their kids in an exciting new social world. A great way to re-socialise your child gently and effectively is to send them to baby and kids’ classes.
According to an array of scientific studies, kids’ classes could help to boost intelligence, spark creative thinking, promote impulse control, and boost physical and mental health. Some classes also present the opportunity for stressed-out dads and mums to take a much-needed break and socialise with other parents – what’s not to love?
Of course, no two classes are the same, with each offering different types of activities and learning opportunities. If you’re wondering whether to enrol your child in ballet, football, painting, or soft play sessions, or even set up your own toddler-parent group, we’ve put together a list of options below to help develop children’s social skills in a post-lockdown world:
Think babies are too young or clumsy for yoga? Think again! Baby or toddler yoga classes involve an altered form of traditional yoga that allows parents to practise poses while rocking and holding their baby. As well as helping you get back into shape and meet new people after months of lockdown, baby yoga could benefit your little one in the following ways:
- It boosts emotional wellbeing, helping parents and babies to bond.
- It can help babies to sleep better.
- It can improve your baby’s happiness levels as little ones love movement and gentle music.
- It normalises exercise and increases the chances your child will take up yoga in the future.
Sensory play sessions
If your child is between 0 and 6 years old, they’ll love sensory play. There are many different activities involved in sensory play, a broad practice designed to stimulate a young child’s sense of smell, touch, hearing, sight, and taste, as well as improve baby motor skills, balance and movement.
Of course, the types of sensory play offered by different classes will depend on the age of your child. Generally, classes can be split into the following categories:
- Baby classes: These are gentle sessions that could involve touching bubbles or scrunching up brightly coloured paper.
- Toddler classes: Once your little one starts toddling, they’re ready to make shadows on walls or mix child-safe paints to make new colours.
- Classes for kids aged 4-6: Sessions for older kids could involve getting out into nature, moulding kid-safe clay or playing simple musical instruments.
You could also incorporate sensory play into casual meetups with other parents and their kids – try setting up a few fun games as soon as you’re able to socialise again.
So, what is the logic behind sensory play? Although the tasks may seem simple (and sometimes a little silly), they encourage kids to explore the world, boosting their sense of curiosity and helping them process sensory information. In fact, research shows that sensory play can help strengthen the foundation on which vital skills such as reading and problem-solving are built, as well as supporting language development and honing motor skills. The benefits can’t be understated!
Dance and gymnastics
Once your kid is able to walk, they’re ready to dance. There are tonnes of baby and toddler dance classes available across the UK, catering for a wide range of ages. Ballet and tap dancing are common choices, but there are loads of genres to choose from, including contemporary dance and street dance. The many benefits of dance include:
- It boosts physical fitness, endurance, and coordination.
- It enhances kinaesthetic memory through movement, improving kids’ ability to learn skills such as riding a bike.
- It provides social benefits and helps kids understand that all bodies are different.
Gymnastics is also a great choice that offers similar benefits to dance sessions, with many kids choosing to enter competitions from an early age.
Football and rugby
Football and rugby classes offer a great excuse for kids to get outside and play with their friends. Although they are often considered activities for boys, an increasing number of girls are choosing to get in involved, helping to boost their physical fitness and develop team-working skills. As well as offering cardiovascular and muscle-building benefits, it is worth noting that football and rugby can improve hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. Making it a development focused baby or toddler class
Martial arts represent a very effective way to boost a child’s confidence and teach them self-discipline. Contrary to popular belief, martial arts are not about fighting or violence. Rather, they are about learning to respect oneself and others while strengthening the body. If you’re keen to get your kid involved with karate, judo or taekwondo there are plenty of classes available for all ages, including toddlers.
Looking for a way to encourage your child to express themselves more effectively? Why not organise a dress-up party with friends or classmates? Kids love dressing up and pretending to be different characters, an activity that can boost their social skills, as well as improve their ability to take control of situations, empathise with others, and synthesise different ideas.
Art classes or crafty afternoons
If your kid isn’t sporty, chances are they’re better suited to creative tasks such as painting or crafting. If you don’t own any art supplies or are unsure how to nourish your child’s talent, why not send them to an art class for youngsters? Such classes will feed their imagination, as well as teach important motor and concentration skills. If organised classes aren’t your thing, you could also plan a crafty afternoon with other kids and their parents.
Make the most of lockdown ending!
As you can see, kids’ classes and social gatherings represent vital opportunities for developing social, physical, and cognitive skills. There are tonnes of activities out there to suit kids with a vast range of personality traits, abilities, and personal preferences. Don’t hesitate – try a few on for size!
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