There are so many benefits for little ones attending classes and groups, (including the perfect excuse for parents to get out of the house) - but finding the best activity for your little one can be pretty overwhelming! With hundreds of classes out there – it's hard to know which will suit your child best!
Choosing the right class
Like all things parenting, it’s really finding what works for you and your little one and choosing something that fits in with their age and stage of development.
Music and singing classes are a brilliant way to support learning. One of the biggest benefits of singing is the repeated use of the ‘memory muscle’. Learning a piece of information attached to a tune, embeds that information more rapidly in a child’s mind. Dancing, swimming and even little yoga classes are fantastic for little ones physical and social development and a great way of channelling that never-ending energy.
If you really can’t decide, don't worry! Many classes offer taster sessions – so it’s worth trying a few before signing up for a term.
Do your research!
Check the class credentials – it’s something that's important and something that so many parents forget. In a recent survey by the Children’s Activities Association (CAA) One of the most worrying findings was the number of parents who had assumed (incorrectly) that a Code of Practice already existed. In short – many groups and classes across the UK attended by little ones, may not have adequate child safeguarding or Health and Safety and insurance.
The CAA are now launching a Code of Practice to offer parents peace of mind and many popular UK classes including Water Babies, Baby Sensory, diddi dance and Tumble Tots are signing up.
Mum to Hollie admitted when looking for activities she hadn’t even realised classes weren’t regulated: “I assumed these kind of guidelines were in place, and in all honesty feel very ignorant now for making such a huge assumption as far as Hollie is concerned. I will now as a rule be doing my research!”
Richard Tunstall, who runs Ju Jitsu mini Ninja classes, agrees the code of practice is a step forward in helping parents find classes with peace of mind. “Any scheme which is fairly run, giving fair references on the experiences of the children and parents attending the group has to be good for all involved. Parents constantly worry about their child’s well-being and therefore to know that the activities are well run and safe, should be their highest priority.”
How to know if a class is safe and a good standard
You can start to look out for the official CAA logo on the websites and literature of all those businesses who have pledged to meet the CAA’s robust guidelines for best practice from the end of May 2015.
For those not displaying the logo, don’t be afraid to ask to see their insurance, CRB checks and qualification or training from all staff involved in the activities. Think about it - you wouldn’t send your child to a nursery or childminder without the relevant checks, so be safe with your classes too.
Finally: pre-school and after school classes are a fantastic way of meeting new people and making friends for both parent and child, so don’t be afraid get out and about and enjoy all your local area has to offer.
Do your research, check online reviews and class feedback, and talk to the best critics of all – other parents!