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; kindermusik.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.