“Everything you do is a learning activity for preschoolers.”
Providing extracurricular activities for preschoolers can encourage their natural curiosity and love of learning. It can also help them develop important skills like self-awareness, social development, language and motor skills.
There are countless classes and programs available for your child that are both fun and educational, but which activity is right for your child?
Team sports help kids with their social development, as well as problem-solving skills. Being part of a team also gives kids a sense of confidence as they have the opportunity to cheer each other on and contribute to the common goal. “Soccer seems to be a good place to start. It gets them used to the idea of team sports,” says Kara Thomas, mom and preschool teacher. Another preschool-friendly team sport is T-ball. Team sports are a good fit for children who love physical activity and socializing with other kids.
An art class provides the opportunity for kids to create, make messes and try crafts that their parents may not want to try at home such as painting, sculpture and papier-mache. Art helps develop eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. It also encourages kids to explore different colors and textures, while encouraging their creativity. Kids who are introverted, creative and able to sit still for longer periods of time would enjoy taking an art class.
Music and dance
Preschool kids love to listen to music and dance. There are many programs available that offer enrichment in music where kids are encouraged to sing, make their own music and use their bodies to express themselves through dance. Many dance studios offer beginner classes for the preschool crowd. The study of music and dance helps kids develop language and gross motor skills. It has also been shown to improve math and reading skills down the line. Music classes are a good fit for most preschoolers. For kids who are naturally drawn to music and movement in particular, look into music classes specifically geared towards preschool children.
Preschool and play groups
Traditional preschool exposes children to many different types of enrichment, such as art, music, games, cooperative play, drama and pretend play. At the same time, it develops their social and language skills. While preschool may provide a well-rounded enrichment experience, it may not be a good fit for some families due to schedules or finances. Play groups are another great way to expose children to many types of enrichment experiences while giving them the social aspect that many preschools provide.
“I think dance or tumbling is a really good first organized activity for kids,” says Angela Leever, mom of three and preschool special education teacher. “You want to make sure you get them into an activity where the instructors are used to working with young children and their expectations are age-appropriate.” Gymnastics, swimming and martial arts are great activities for little ones to try because they work on core strength and confidence. Kids who love to be active and are even a little daring do well in these types of individual sports.
The wonderful thing about preschool enrichment is that there are several local programs and opportunities. There are countless chances to expose your kids to learning at home as well. “We are really into gardening right now. My son waters the plants every night and helps pull weeds. It has been a great learning experience for him,” says Katlyn Purkapile, mom of two. Kids can learn by helping with chores around the house, attending local library presentations and exploring all the parks and museums that Austin has to offer. Mother of two Stephanie Pratt, whose children like to cook with her, notes, “Everything you do is a learning activity for preschoolers.”
Get creative, make learning fun and allow your child to explore new things both in organized programs and at home.
Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer and mom of six children. She enjoys reading, cooking and spending time outside with her family.