Ready, Set, Learn!
When's my kid ready? Basic music appreciation can start as early as 6
months. You can introduce kids to instrument instruction around age 4.
Who knew? "Music is great for brain development because it not
only enhances kids' understanding of language and vocabulary but it also has
patterns, rhythms, and sequences that strengthen memory and math skills,"
says Sally Goldberg, Ph.D., early-childhood education specialist at the Center
for Successful Children, a parent-education organization in Scottsdale, AZ.
Other research points to music's mellowing qualities — just listening to it can
relax an overly active child, says Goldberg.
Is it for my kid? Music is great for all kids, but may be especially
helpful for those with language delays because it engages different parts of
the brain than speaking (which is why people who stutter often have no trouble
singing), says Church. When Lake Grove, NY, mom Mary DeBiccari enrolled her
2-year-old son in Music Together, she wasn't sure what he'd get out of it
because he wasn't very verbal. "Nicholas found his voice through
singing," says DeBiccari, 34.
Find a class near you: musictogether.com; musicforaardvarks.com;
When's my kid ready? You and your kid can participate in splashing
and kicking in a pool or in the ocean at 6 months, and then begin solo or group
instruction at age 3.
Who knew? Swimming helps build coordination; it's also a huge
confidence-booster, says Goldberg. "Kids understand that it's a valuable
life skill, so when they master it, they feel extremely accomplished," she
Is it for my kid? Learning to swim is great exercise for both mind
and body, not to mention a basic survival skill, so all kids should give it a
shot. The sooner you get kids in the pool, the more comfortable they'll feel
getting their head wet, going in the deep end, and eventually swimming (if you
wait too long to start, kids can become fearful). Jodi Arlen, 43, of Bethesda,
MD, says her daughter Sydney was initially terrified of the water -- but that
all changed when she started taking swim lessons at age 2. "I think because
she was doing it with her friends it became less scary and more fun," says
Find a class near you: ymca.net; clubswim.com.