Now more than ever, there are a multitude of enrichment programs available for preschoolers. From music to swimming, and art to movement — and dozens of other fun options in between! — there are many ways to enrich your little learner’s life. Here are just some of the benefits of enrolling your child in an enrichment class, and what you should look for when choosing an activity for your preschooler.
The Benefits Abound
Preschoolers are constantly learning from everything that they experience. And when you expose them to positive, enriching experiences, their learning soars.
“There are so many benefits, but the most important gift that [classes] offers is building a healthy self-esteem in the child,” says Amy Dennison, CCM prep director of education at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. “Not only that, but our students learn the values of discipline, empathy, practice, respect, appreciation, comfort with their body, and the many ways to communicate through the arts.”
Kids also learn social and emotional skills that might be hard to learn outside of the group setting that classes provide. “If you would peek into our classroom, you would find children socializing with one another and growing in their confidence,” says Jen Marchal, owner of Tippi Toes in Cincinnati. “They don’t realize how much they are learning, but parents often comment that they see a positive difference in their child’s confidence and ability to dance.”
Nicolette Modes of Snapology in West Chester Township agrees. “Our programs promote creativity and boost confidence through encouragement and sharing, and it is not uncommon to see a child’s creativity and confidence flourish after participating in our programming,” she says.
And let’s not forget the physical aspects of some enrichment classes. “Swimming is a great cardiovascular activity — all that kicking and arm movement will help develop strong muscles and joints,” says John Reilly, president and CEO of Bear Paddle Swim School in Cincinnati. “Swim lessons help develop coordination and balance as children learn to kick and move while being supported by the water, and teaches basic swimming skills and life-saving water skills, which is a win-win for the entire family.”
Finding a Quality Program
We know that preschool enrichment classes provide a multitude of benefits. So how do you find a quality program that is right for your child?
“As a mom of three, I look for programs that connect with my children at their ability level, help build their confidence and excite them to learn,” Marchal says.
Modes recommends looking at who is running the program and teaching the classes. “It is important to look at how the curriculum and programming is developed, and by who” she says. “The other key thing to look for or inquire about is information about the instructors for the programs, including their qualifications and training.”
Also important is to find a program that recognizes your child’s age, and meets them where they are developmentally. “With young children, it’s important to have enough helpers to create and maintain a smooth and nurturing experience for the children,” Dennison says. A degree or education is preferred, but a combination of professional experience and ability to work with the age group they teach is critical.”
With young children, the option to participate as a family is a bonus, and might be something to consider when looking for classes. “We suggest looking for programs that have a lasting impact on a child’s development and can double as a family activity,” Reilly says. “Play-based learning is an effective practice for deepening understanding and engaging children. By swimming together as a family and playing games in the water, you will help your child master their swimming skills in a fun environment.”