Tips For Choosing Toddler Activity Classes
There are such a variety and a great many toddler classes on offer for parents to choose. So much so that choosing which toddler class for your little one can be a challenge. There are also a wide variety of suppliers from charities, plucky amateurs, well intending mums and the more professional branded outfits. We all worry about being tied into badly run and poorly organized toddler classes. We want the best for our toddler and we want them to have fun and we want to help them develop. So how do we choose. Well we have five key questions you should ask of a toddler class provider.
1. Is the toddler class designed around the development stages of our little ones?
We would expect most toddler classes to have parents involved and central to the experience. It is also important that the toddlers are able to grasp the concept of the game so that they are engaged, stimulated and both mum and toddler are enthused by the whole experience. This is only achieved if the activity and themes are designed for the toddler age and stage of development. When introducing your child to any toddler activity, it is vital that the class pitches itself at the correct level for the children involved. Ask what developmental stages the class is designed for? Take a look at what the toddlers are being asked to do – is the aim of the game understood? Do the children in the class have the capability to learn the skills needed to play the game?
2. Does toddler have fun at the class?
Development comes from engagement and engagement comes from your little one having a great time. Fun is the precursor to engagement in terms of toddler activity. If a toddler is not having fun, they will not be engaged with the class – no matter how much the parent can see the benefit! Does your toddler feel at home in the class, is there enough stimulation and exploration? Is your toddler smiling and laughing and smiling with their peers and coaches or teachers? Do they toddle about with excitement at being there? Do they let you know they want to attend the class during the week when you are at home? Do they repeat the activities at home? Do they perform little actions that mimic the class content around the house? These are all signs that your little one is having fun –oh and of course beaming smiles during the class!
3. Does the class have an ongoing development path?
If we consider toddler development as a fundamental need from a toddler class, is the class part of a much broader development path for your toddler? Many toddler activity class teachers will make up their activities and routines on the spot, whatever they fancy doing that particular day. Yes they have a collection of activities and routines they have in the portfolio, but generally there will not be a systematic approach to aligning the activities to the development paths of the toddlers. Some teachers may have amazing talent – the ability to entertain children at the drop of a hat is hard enough for parents, so to watch another person do it often leaves us in awe. The only issue with this approach is that it often fails to consider the developmental trajectory of the toddler.
It is important that the organization that you select for your child follows a curriculum based approach, with clear milestones for your toddler to develop over time. Toddlers are little bundles of senses and are always developing their physical, emotional and cognitive skills and need to be challenged in a planned and comprehensive way to aid their development. We don’t want them to be missing out on a crucial element. You can only ensure this by having a set curriculum and that is aligned to the comprehensive development needs of toddlers.
Ask your toddler class teachers about the structure of classes and why they are structured this way? – You will soon see if there is a structure based around a toddler focused curriculum based approach. Also ask if they do classes for the child’s later years. Some have programs that build upon the foundations laid in the toddler stage and you and your child can benefit from continuity in their development. If you can find a trusted provider for your child’s activity, you can pursue it with them and watch them grow throughout childhood.
4. Are the facilitators, coaches or teachers of the right quality?
The basics are all around safe guarding qualifications and DBS checks and the like. We need more than this to be a great toddler facilitator. A qualification in the topic is nice, but it is the engagement and entertainment skills that are most important for toddler age groups. Is the a good communicator with the toddler age group? For example, in the instance of toddler football classes, a large number of coaches claim to have FA recognized qualifications. However, the FA courses provide no information on toddlers or indeed children under the age of 5 years. Can we guarantee that a FA qualified football coach would be suitable for a toddler class? Not at all! Qualities to look out for include…How caring of the toddler and parents is the teaching team? Are they trained in a child-centric communication techniques? Do they look the part, smart, branded in their uniform and do they take care of their appearance and therefore the appearance of the organization? Without respect for their appearance and the organization they represent how can we be sure they will respect your child – well the answer is we can’t.
5. Will The Toddlers Learn Something?
Yes we bring our toddler to class for fun, entrainment and to make new friends in a new social environment. However we should ask ourselves will they learn something? Will the class help and support their development?
All toddlers are different and have differnet development challenges, they are all at different stages and develop at different speeds. They also behave differently and develop different interests. Some like to run around free, others like to be more stationary, some like to draw and create wonderful images that we all have to like, others like to bang a tambourine and others will love kicking a football – the crucial part of any toddler activity class though, is that the toddler learns something new.
This can be some of the basics in terms of cognitive development such as say becoming familiar with the different colours, or playing and appreciates different shapes, sounds or movements. One of the primary objectives in the design of a toddler class is that each child learns something and takes something away…along with the obligatory smile!
We encourage all parents to pursue taking part in some form of activity with their toddler. The best providers will always offer free taster sessions for parents and this will allow you to check out all of our tips in person!