A lot of parents assume that the benefits of baby and toddler classes are mostly for the parents. They’re a great way to meet other mums and dads, and finding your tribe makes parenting so much easier.
But toddler classes are not just a place to hear a choir of mums and dads singing baby shark with half-a-dozen giggles. They actually have a ton of surprising benefits that will be preparing your little one for school in advance! We wouldn’t expect anyone to be thinking that far in advance, but it’s exciting to learn how much classes could be helping!
Here’s just a few ways that all the play and fun they have at classes are an important part of early learning:
1. Story time at toddler classes – introducing reading and phonics
We all know how much little ones love hearing stories. You may be all-too familiar with the regular books that pop up at story-time’s (Gruffalos are not a myth and many a Tiger will probably come to many a tea!). But, did you know that this hearing these stories are helping to develop their reading skills?
The repetition of these stories helps to introduce new concepts like phonics, rhythms and sounds. This will really help children build the foundation of skills needed to learn to read later on.
2. Moving and grooving is more than just fun!
According to the NHS, once your child is walking, they should be staying active for at least 180 minutes (3 hours) of the day! A toddler class is a great way to encourage toddlers to begin exercising in a group. They begin preparing them for physical education and perhaps encouraging them to join sports teams in the future.
All the moving and grooving is helping them with gross motor skills, which will continue to develop as they grow.
The NHS have also encouraged being active together. And if any of our baby and toddler classes are to go by, then you need to be ready and willing to get a sweat on too! (Check out some of our baby classes today!)
3. Beep beep! – Crafts & motor skills
What might look like “Play Time” at your toddler group or baby class is actually far more developmental than it might appear.
Simply letting your child squish a ball of Play-Doh helps them to develop fine motor skills their hands and fingers. While riding around and driving a toy Coupe Car helps to develop other gross motor skills.
Developing motors skills from an early age will benefit them when they come to learning more complex skills at nursery and school. Like holding a pencil and beginning to write.
So next time your toddler gifts you their latest Jackson Pollock imitation painting, remember that they’ve developed more than just their artistic talents!
4. One, two, three, four, five, now my child is counting right!
As many times as you have heard those familiar favourite nursery rhymes, they are still a fairly new concept to your little ones. Hearing them repeatedly is helping to introduce and teach counting at an early age. This might mean that maths comes a little bit easier for them when it comes to nursery and school.
These nursery rhymes often include movements that will be using our fingers too, very useful for also helping out with teaching toddlers motor skills again. (And the more opportunities to help with that, the better!)
5. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, here we go around again – Routines
Finding a class that connects with you and your little one (one that includes a snack time or tidy-up time) is a great opportunity to introduce the idea of routines.
Introducing this concept at a young age will make it less of an alien concept when it comes to that daunting first day of nursery. Which hopefully means it will be a dry-eyed drop off. Well, from your kids at least!
6. Benefits of teaching manners & etiquette at baby and toddler classes
We sometimes forget that something that is an afterthought for us hasn’t been taught to our children yet. Basic manners and understanding the correct time to speak or stay quiet would not even cross your mind.
But baby and toddler classes are a great opportunity to teach all the basics. Greetings, Turn-taking, sitting in an allocated spot and please’s/thank you’s all start to happen all around your child.
This encourages them to copy and do the same. Before you know it, they’ll be holding doors open for others and unnecessarily apologise as much as the rest of the UK.
7. Benefits of cleaning at baby & toddler classes
It’s more than likely that you have simply got used to cleaning up after your little one by now. But, we should definitely be encouraging them to pick up after themselves and clean up. It’s an important habit to enforce while your child is young so that they are ready when attending nursery for the first time.
Attending a toddler group might be just the thing to helping your child learn all the correct social skills that influence tidying up your own belongings and leaving a room as neat as possible.
8. Introduction to other cultures
Little ones are the least likely to judge another based on their background. But every child gets to an age where they will ask questions about that which is different. Baby classes are a great way to begin to introduce your little ones to different families of different backgrounds.
This might be to race, religion, or perhaps different family dynamics such as single parents & LGBTQ+ parents. This will lead to a hopefully judgement-free time when that dreaded first day of school finally arrives.
9. Social skills & the benefits of emotional understanding at toddler and baby classes
This next point might feel like an obvious (but important!) one. Being surrounded by other parents and children may be one of the main reasons that you would book a class in the first place.
But establishing those crucial social skills will really help your toddler in the future. It’s important for your child to understand social cues and learn how to make friends. But by attending these classes you may also be introducing them to new concepts like empathy. If another child is upset, your toddler might start to question why that is and try to help make them feel better.
Maybe one of the reasons you’re slightly worried about your little one going to nursery is because you have a clingy tot? Well we have a list of tips to try and help your toddler overcome this, check them out here!
Maybe your child is nearly ready for heading off to nursery! But are you?