As a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) I am always looking for activities and things to keep my crazy 3 year old busy and entertained, especially if it is something that gets us out of the house for a while. For Christmas, the year my little man turned 1, my husband paid for parent and tot classes through our local community center. We have now been attending them consistently for 2 years.
- Parent and tot classes are OUTSIDE of our house! This is even better for the winter months here in Michigan. We get stuck inside and stir crazy pretty fast.
- Social Interaction! Not just for my boy to learn to interact with other children. That’s great. But it also allows me to interact with people over the age 3, and that is EVERYTHING to a SAHM.
- Bonding. It gives us some time to just hang out together, play together, learn and do activities together. So many times I get the dreaded “mom guilt” because I get so busy trying to clean or do laundry or run errands that I find maybe I am not taking as much time to just sit and enjoy my little man. This has allowed for at least an hour a week to make sure we get that one on one time without distraction.
- Learning. My little guy started the first class at 13 months old. He was toddling and barely speaking. He has learned so many things. Songs and dances, coloring, pasting, painting, how to share, how to take turns…the list goes on and on.
- Structure. We have a December birthday. What that means is that my son wont start preschool until he is almost 5. He wont start kindergarten until he is almost 6. He is not in a daycare or any other type of school setting. These classes give him that little bit of structure, and get him used to a schedule, and routine.
Many ask me how the parent and tot classes work and what the kids do in them since they start at a year old and go all the way up until school starts.
- When we arrive, we wait for the teacher, who is amazing, by the way, to come bring the kids back to the classroom.
- We start with circle time. The teacher leads them in a song greeting each child individually to the class. Then, she follows up with a couple more age-appropriate songs (think Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star or Wheels on the Bus). She then will explain the craft or project for the day.
- Next comes free play. Some parents have their child sit at the table and work on the project right away. I typically let my son play first and do the project toward the end. He is high energy in a room full of toys. Talk about a kid in a candy store. So for us, sitting is a no-go until he can get some energy out and explore. To each, their own.
- At the end of the class, the clean up song gets played. The parents and tots clean up the toys together. Everyone returns to the mat for circle time. The teacher brings out instruments (like bells and shakers) and plays a song where the children can sing and dance. Once they’ve danced the wiggles out, she reads a story. There is a goodbye song. At the end of class the kids all get stamps on their hand for doing such a good job.
We live in Sterling Heights and the parent and tot classes at our local rec center are pretty reasonably priced. The sessions are 8 weeks long, and classes meet once per week for one hour per class. Price is $52.00 for city residents and $78.00 for Non-Residents. We have had an amazing experience with these classes and I urge everyone to check them out. Most cities have a Parks & Rec department and offer similar programs.