Child Development Classes Are......?
In the parenting world child development classes are formal classes for babies and young children (usually with their parents) that are said to provide benefits for a child's development. Some of these classes will have research evidence that the program does help children's development. Most will not.
Are Child Development Classes Good or Bad?
Child development classes are becoming more and more popular amongst cries of the dangers of hot-housing children. So are classes helpful or harmful for young children? This can be answered by asking yourself some important questions.
Question 1: They Why?
Why would you like to enroll your child in a developmental class? Is it to give them an activity that you (or both of you) can enjoy? Is it to fast track them on the road to learning? If your focus is primarily on fast tracking your child you may be in danger of creating an imbalance in their life. Young children's learning styles are very different from older children and adults. Young children learn through play and fun. They are actually more likely to learn from an afternoon of painting as they are from a formal child development class.
Some developmental classes, such as Gymbaroo, have been found to have some benefit for young children. Others, like Kindermusik, can install a love of music that children may wish to follow up with music lessons when they are older. Yet the important thing to remember is that focusing on learning without a good dash of fun is unlikely to help your child in the long run. So if your focus is on fun or fun and learning you will probably find the class is helpful - even if it just makes for a great outing.
Question 2: How Much?
The important question to ask here is how much unstructured play time is your child is getting. Child psychologists have found that unstructured play is extremely helpful in developing the whole child - their intelligence, thinking skills, creativity, emotions, social skills and personality. If your child is going to one or two short, fun child development classes per week and getting lots of unstructured play time as well you probably have a good balance. Filling your child's days with lots of structured classes on the other hand is not going to make them develop better or faster. In fact it is more likely to do harm as children will have less time for unstructured play. So as with most things the rule for developmental classes is more does not equal better for your child.
So if you would like to enroll your child in a developmental class decide which class your child (or you and your child) would enjoy most. Think about which one would capture their interest. Then enroll and enjoy, just don't get caught up into the common mistake of thinking lots of classes will be best for your child's future.