Ready, Set, Learn!
When's my kid ready? Introduce your kid to basic sports moves (e.g.,
tossing a ball back and forth) around ages 2 to 3, and striking a ball off a
tee from 4 to 5. She can play T-Ball games from 4 to 7. Hold off on other
competitive sports until age 8.
Who knew? Sports actually enhance brain development and functioning,
according to Stephen J. Virgilio, Ph.D., author of Active Start for Healthy
Kids . Exercise primes the brain for learning by increasing circulation and
upping the flow of oxygen.
Is it for my kid? Sports are a great outlet for energetic children,
and they can also draw out a child who is socially withdrawn, as long as the
activity is age-appropriate. "Before age 8, kids are not developmentally
ready for competition," Virgilio says. "When something goes wrong —
say, they strike out — they see it as a personal failure rather than an
athletic failure, and they can't distinguish between the two."
Find a class near you: gymboreeclasses.com; thelittlegym.com;
When's my kid ready? "Creative arts" (e.g., finger painting)
can be introduced between ages 1 and 3, while lessons in technique (e.g., how
to work with watercolors) can begin from age 4.
Who knew? Children who take part in an art program improve in a range
of literacy and critical-thinking skills, according to a recent study from the
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. "Art is a precursor to
reading and writing because storytelling starts happening," says Church.
"They draw a picture and tell an entire story based on these scribbly
things. And the scribbles gradually become symbols, letters, words, and full
stories" — the building blocks of literacy.
Is it for my kid? Art, like music, is a universal inclination, but
kids who sit still easily for projects and those who tend to graffiti
everything in the house may tune in to it more. Painting and drawing can be
good for kids who need work on fine motor skills, and art is a great
confidence-booster for those with developmental delays.
Find a class near you: gymboreeclasses.com; clickforlessons.com.
Stick With It or Quit?
Before you throw in the towel on swim class, find out why your child doesn't
like it: Talk with him afterward, when the situation is not so emotionally
charged, suggests Goldberg. Maybe the teacher yells or the class is too
difficult. "In some cases, you may uncover a problem that's easily
fixed," says Goldberg. If your child is preverbal, look at everything from
the teacher and students to the timing (is the class close to naptime?). Know
your child and gauge his comfort level. "If you can get your child to
cooperate, do it," Goldberg says, because your kid will learn and have fun.
"But if an activity is causing too much discomfort, stop and try again