Classes For Toddlers: Pro or Con

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In lieu of buying Babygirl something that whirs and lights up for her 3rd birthday last month, her grandmother and great-grandmother PayPal’ed us some money. Another of her great-grandmothers slipped us some more cash in an envelope. Yes, of course, we could put it all in BG’s 529, but we plan on at least trying to max out our contribution to that regardless. We sort of think we should treat these gifts as Frivolous Dollars, money we should use on — you guessed it — experiences rather than things.

So what should those experiences be?

Ben leans towards music lessons. Music meant a lot to him growing up, and his parents prioritized it even when they were cash-strapped. By contrast, my mother made sure I got piano lessons starting from when I was 3 or 4 and I couldn’t have cared less. Both my brothers quit; I only continued because I was a good girl and didn’t want to make a scene. I had no discernible talent, though, and spent as much time as possible plying my teacher with questions about her life as a divorcee in Vienna.

Swimming classes would be both fun and potentially life-saving.

Language classes would be mind-expanding.

Gym classes would be fun

Is there any point, though, really, in introducing a pre-schooler to formal extracurriculars? My mother enrolled me in all sorts of enrichment activities, starting when I was little: my childhood was a whirl of Marvatots & Teens, figure skating, ballet, soccer, piano, tennis, computer camp, and so on. None of it stuck. Maybe it helped me in ways I can’t articulate now, but it certainly didn’t make me an athlete or a prodigy. It didn’t even make me well-rounded: before the classes, all I wanted to do was read and write, and after the classes that is what I’d come home and do.

Should we get into the habit of sending her to classes, in the hopes that they’ll mean more to her than they did to me, or should we spend the dough on, I don’t know, a scooter (plus gear) instead, and on taking her to a pumpkin patch?

 

Image via Gymboree

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