Ready, Set, Learn!
Is it for my kid? Drama is a great outlet for kids who enjoy being
the center of attention. "In a class, there are lots of stars, and a child
learns that stars shine at different times," says Church. But drama can
also be beneficial if your child has trouble expressing emotions — or if the
family is going through a divorce, a new baby, or another transition that can
leave kids unsettled — because acting can bring those emotions to the surface
or help provide a release. Melissa Sanders, 45, of Montclair, NJ, enrolled her
daughter Laurel in a theater program at age 5. "She was the kind of kid who
didn't raise her hand or speak up in class, but in theater she'd get caught up
in the creative process, and her shyness would vanish," Sanders says.
Find a class near you: tadatheater.com; helenogrady.com.
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.