There are more activities available for the five-and-under crowd than ever before. While it’s important for preschoolers to have lots of downtime and opportunities for free play, enrichment activities have undeniable benefits. They can teach preschoolers life skills, including resilience, perseverance and problem solving, explains Amy Roell, director of education and events for Great Parks of Hamilton County in Cincinnati.
Here are some options for preschool enrichment, and the multiple ways these activities can expand your child’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive development.
Art, music and dance are a natural fit for preschoolers, and most young children naturally gravitate toward them. Artistic activities tap into a child’s imagination, and help them work on their fine and gross motor skills, social skills and confidence. At this age, many of these classes and events involve the parent or caregiver, which makes for a wonderful chance to give your child undivided attention. You’ll find a wide variety of music, art, theatre, dance and other artistic expression programs that are ideal for a preschooler.
Places to Try
The Art Spark: www.theartspark.com
Cincinnati Baila Dance Academy: https://cincinnatibaila.com
Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy: www.cballet.org/academy
Northern Kentucky School of Music: https://immanuelumc.org/ministries/nkyschoolofmusic
Tippi Toes Dance: www.tippitoesdance.com
West Chester Academy: www.westchesteracademy.com
Outdoor activities provide an endless playground of imagination for preschoolers. For instance, on a nature hike, young children use gross motor skills to navigate the trail, exercise while having fun, and use their natural ability to explore and discover. Several local parks offer opportunities for young adventurers to go hiking, learn about nature, and get hands-on with their natural surroundings. Time spent in nature promotes a healthy lifestyle, encourages gross motor skill development, and allows those active imaginations a chance to be creative.
Places to Try
Great Parks of Hamilton County: www.greatparks.org
It’s no secret that preschoolers need to move! And there are many exciting gymnastics, dance and sports programs throughout Cincinnati for them to do just that. Just as their brains are developing at a rapid pace, preschoolers’ bodies are also quickly changing as they learn to use them. Not only do movement programs encourage kids to move their bodies, but they also teach them rules, encourage teamwork, foster listening skills and help with self-control.
Places to Try
Bear Paddle Swim School: www.bearpaddle.com
Premier Tumbling and Dance: www.premiertumblinganddance.com
YMCA of Greater Cincinnati: www.cincinnatiymca.org
Also known as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM enrichment programs abound for kids, even preschoolers. STEM concepts are becoming more and more important in education, and preschool age is a great time to begin to foster an interest and appreciation for them. Many Cincinnati museums and libraries offer classes or events that are STEM-centered and geared toward children under the age of five. These enriching interactions are hands-on and engaging, making them perfect for young learners. By introducing children to STEM concepts at an early age, their minds are exposed to a new way of thinking, and they’ll have a jumpstart on this type of learning in elementary school.
Places to Try
Cincinnati Museum Center: www.cincymuseum.org
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County: www.cincinnatilibrary.org
The STEM Lab: www.cincystemlab.com
At any age, but especially for preschoolers, free play is an enrichment activity on its own. This is an unstructured time when little ones can explore, create, discover and learn without an agenda. While children often get this type of play at home, there are also many locations and programs throughout the area that are set up for this type of engagement. Look for play places that have themed areas that encourage creative play; these are perfect for early development and impressionable minds. Children can not only self-teach during this enriching play, but it also teaches social skills, life skills such as sharing, taking turns, and cleaning up after oneself, and confidence to try new things.
For preschoolers, enrichment activities promote development during an important window where young minds are learning and absorbing at a rapid rate. Begin your search for the perfect program by choosing activities that interest your child, and then let things develop from there.