Tips for choosing a toddler activity class by Sport4Kids

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There are so many toddler activity classes  on offer to parents. However, choosing the best activity classes can be a challenge, with options ranging from local clubs to professionally run classes. It is often the case that classes can be badly organized, inconsistently staffed and poorly run. This can ultimately lead to toddlers becoming disengaged with the activity and forming a negative association with the hobby.

Sport4Kids have provided the following five key tips for parents when selecting a toddler activity class…

1. Is the class tailored to your toddler’s stage of development?

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When introducing your child to any toddler activity, it is vital that the class pitches itself at the correct level for the children involved. Take a look at what the toddlers are being asked to do – is the aim of the game understood? Do the children in the class have the capability to learn the skills needed to play the game? We would expect most toddler activity classes to need parental assistance at this age, but it is important that the toddlers are able to grasp the concept of the game so that they remain enthused.

2. Does the class give your toddler a fun time?

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Fun is the precursor to engagement in terms of toddler activity. If a toddler is not having fun, they will not be engaged with the class – no matter how much the parent can see the benefit! Is your toddler laughing and smiling with their peers and coaches or teachers? Do they babble about wanting to attend the class during the week when you are at home? Do they perform little actions that mimic the class content around the house? These are all signs that your little one is having fun –oh and of course beaming smiles during the class!

3. Are the teachers of a quality that you are happy with?

Most classes will advertise that their coaches are DBS registered and qualified to coach or teach the toddler activity that you have chosen. This is a good start and should not be overlooked. However, this does not provide an overall picture of the teacher. Is the teacher good at communication with the toddler age group? For example, in the instance of toddler football classes , a large number of coaches claim to have FA recognized qualifications. However, the FA courses provide no information on toddlers or indeed children under the age of 5 years. Can we guarantee that a FA qualified football coach would be suitable for a toddler class? Not at all! Qualities to look out for include…How caring the teaching team is? Are they trained in a child-centric approach to toddler teaching?   Are they well turned out and looking as though they take care of their appearance and therefore the appearance of the organization? Without respect for their appearance and the organization they represent how can we be sure they will respect your child – well the answer is we can’t.

4. Will The Toddlers Learn Something?

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All toddlers behave differently and will ultimately develop different interests. Some like to draw, others like to bang a tambourine and others will love kicking a football – the crucial part of any toddler activity class though, is that the toddler learns something. Whether this be learning new colours, shapes, sounds or movements, one of the primary focuses of the class should be that every child takes something away…along with the expected smile!

5. Does the class have an ongoing development path?

Many toddler activity class teachers will pitch up and make a set of routines up for the class for the day on the spot. These individuals possess great talent – the ability to entertain children at the drop of a hat is hard enough for parents, so to watch another person do it often leaves us in awe. The only issue with this approach is that it often fails to consider the developmental trajectory of the toddler. It is important that the organization that you select for your child follows a curriculum based approach, with clear milestones for your toddler to develop over time. Toddlers are little bundles of senses, but psychologically and physically they are always developing and need to be challenged. Many organizations also offer classes beyond the toddler years, meaning that if you find a trusted provider for your child’s activity, you can pursue it with them and watch them grow throughout childhood. Ask your provider about the structure of classes and why they are structured this way – the absence or inclusion of a curriculum based approach will soon become apparent!

We encourage all parents to pursue taking part in some form of activity with their toddler. The best providers will always offer free taster sessions for parents and this will allow you to check out all of our tips in person!

Dr Mark Gould

Dr Mark Gould is an innovator of child sport, entertainment, learning and development.  He has a PhD in Psychology and is a champion of women’s sport, with over 10 years coaching experience.

This post was sponsored by Sports4Kids.

To find out  more about toddler activities organised by Sports4Kids please visit their website http://sport4kids.biz/activities/toddler-activities and visit http://sport4kids.biz/classes/s4k-tots for information on football for tots.

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