What's the Right Age to Start Kids in Activities?
Kids love activities, and parents love kids' activities, but what's the best age to enroll your kids in activities like soccer, ballet and swimming?
Your kids might be begging to start soccer, ballet or jump in the pool, but what's the appropriate and safe age to start these activities? The answer varies, of course, and every child develops at a different rate so it's best to consult your educators and pediatrician before making any decisions, but here's what the experts say.
There are differing opinions on this one: some say it's good to start getting your baby acclimated to the water as soon as possible, but others say it's better to wait. The Washington Post spoke to several experts on the matter, and one important thing to note is that kids generally can't swim competently until age 6 or 7. But if you do start getting your kids in the pool earlier, just make sure there is sufficient supervision and instruction. According to Centers for Dissease Control statistics, 40 percent of drowning deaths for youth under the age of 19 were between ages 1 and 4.
Soccer (and other sports)
There's nothing more prototypically "kid sport" than soccer, and parents may be eager to get their energetic kids out on the field, but there are two important considerations to take into account before you do: competitiveness and safety. The general rule of thumb is that preschool kids might enjoy running around with a soccer ball with similarly aged children, and that's all fine and dandy, but it's best to wait for the actual win/lose games until they are in grade school. (Delaying competition until ages 7 or 8 seems to be a good rule of thumb, per Parenting.com).
Few things are cuter than a toddler in a tutu, but at what age are kids really ready to start twirling and plie-ing? Attention spans are probably not developed enough to learn the rigorous choreography before age 8, but many places offer more gentle "pre-ballet" classes that give tiny tots an opportunity to don their dance gear and start on the road to ballerina-dom. The one precaution is to not push them too hard too young -- little ones' bones are still developing and over-exertion at a young age risks injury.
This should come as no surprise to parents who started playing Beethoven for their babies while they were still in the womb, but one thing experts agree on is that it's never too early to enroll your kids in music classes. And the benefits of music lessons for kids continue all the way through school age. According to a Parents.com report, learning music can help young brains be more receptive to math, social skills and discipline.
Above all, the consistent message here, is activities are good for kids, but you have plenty of time to get them going; proceed with caution if you're eager to start them in competitive classes as soon as they start walking.