Which activities need to be started young?(42 Posts)
DD is almost 4, and is (perhaps only through my rose-tinted pfb spectacles!) unusually agile and physically able. Her main strengths are balance (very noticeable a year ago, but not so different to other children now), upper body strength, and agility. And she just seems to 'get' how to use her body - and loves doing that
Whilst I don't have sport-related ambitions for her, I don't want her to miss out on something life-enriching because she didn't start early enough, especially because we're not a remotely sporty family, so this doesn't come naturally or automatically to us.
So what activities and sports have a 'start-by' age? That might be due to the nature of the activity, or because it gets so booked up. And is there anything else I should make sure I do for her?
She already does pre-school gymnastics which she loves (a perfect example: if you haven't started in pre-school you simply won't get a space around us).
She also does swimming. And we spend many, many hours in playgrounds!
Would some kind of ball-related activity be good? A friend does tennis lessons - is that a good idea, or is something more general better? While she enjoys catch and kicking balls around, it doesn't seem to be a natural area of strength for her. That might be because we haven't done much of it with her though.
She has been asking for ballet lessons for a while, and we did a trial about 6 months ago, but she didn't really 'get' it so we didn't take it up. She does love watching dance and twirling around to music, and is still asking for lessons though, so perhaps that was a bit mean of me! I was thinking of trying to find a tap or modern class initially, then possibly do ballet later if she turns out to love it. Does that sound reasonable or not?
Thank you so much for any advice. I'm sure I'm worrying over nothing, but I just want to make sure I don't miss something important.
Ermm... How is taking her to activities she enjoys not 'leaving her to be a 4yr old'?
Gym is the only one I know of that likes you to start young, and if she doesn't stick with gym it's an excellent foundation. That and swimming is fab at that age (if they take to swimming, for some it's too young!)
Id use the time before school to carry on as you have. Lots of lovely unstructured play - walks, adventure playgrounds, etc. She can develop a particular sport when she's at school.
I think all classes are great, as long as your child is happy and as long as you acknowledge when they're tired and need down time, then crack on. Tennis is a lovely sport, my daughter really enjoys it and it's encouraging her to be disciplined. I would say though, that since my daughter started school in September I've reduced everything down; the only things we do now is swimming and tennis lessons once a week. She's be absolutely pooped otherwise.
From our experience, gym is the only one where you really need to start young. If she wants to dance then ballet is the key one, but there really isn't a 'start by' age for it, if she started later she'd catch up. I would let her try out lots of different things for a few years and see what she likes the best.
Classical ballet is a good one to start young (not as necessary for boys though as they often take it up later on).
If your dd tried it before, she might have been to little to 'get' it at the time so it could be worth her having another trial lesson somewhere, maybe at a different dance school as she might like another teacher better.
Def I would try ballet again as they do change, unless she really doesn't want to go. I am putting my 2 yrs old up early for ballet and swimming. We started on piano at 4.5 with my first and I think it's too early. Art( rather mess) making is something I plan to do early again too. I never hold my elder daughter hands while she draws which now looking back I find it works better
It's good to start ballet young but age 6/7 is fine if she isn't yet ready for it.
We found that unfortunately for boys if you havnt got involved in football by about age 6 you can forget it but that's not the same for girls.
Gym. If she's got what it takes she'll be picked up for the development group soon.
I'd say Gym, Ballet and maybe general musicianship but not playing an instrument.
I know that you're after more sporty things, but for me it's music or a second language if her school doesn't teach it. The earlier the better with languages IMO.
Thanks for all the great suggestions! It's good to know that there isn't one we really should be doing at this point!
I do want to keep plenty of time for us to have unstructured play, time with friends and adventures. But there are so many great activities they can do! It's hard to find the right balance. Point taken about about keeping an eye out for tiredness.
It sounds like ball sports might be really fun for her, and a good thing to at least try out. But could wait until a year or so into school if necessary. Although does fitting things in ever get any easier?!
And a good point about ballet that she might get on better with it now. It would be really nice to let her try a term each of say ballet, tap and modern, but I can't see the dance school being happy with that. Maybe a school that teaches all of them is still the best solution, so she can at least see the different options (eg at shows).
Interesting that a few people have suggested musicianship, but not an instrument. DD has been asking to play the violin for a while, but my heart sinks at the thought of battles over practice! I really don't think she's ready for it. She used to do monkey music, but we stopped when she started preschool to avoid being over-committed, so maybe we should restart. She still sometimes sings the songs from it! I don't think she's particularly musical tbh, but I hope that she will get pleasure from music through her whole life.
Also a good point about a 2nd language, hummus. We actually have a 2nd family language, which she's been exposed to but I haven't really pushed (it's my 2nd language so OPOL wasn't appropriate). Probably time to ramp that up.
Thanks again for all the food for thought. I need to do a bit more investigation into exactly what's available then figure out how much time we want to commit. It's tricky!
Athletics might be a good one as they get to do all sorts such as jumping, throwing, running etc so she can see what she's good at and what she enjoys rather than just having to do one thing
Ah, I've never heard of athletics for pre-schoolers, but that sounds great. Exactly the kind of thing she'd enjoy. Will look out for it.
She might prefer modern to ballet, it is a lot more lively and the music can be more fun to dance to. Does she have any little friends that do activities she could join?
Gymnastics seems to be the one that needs a v young start, others - like ballet - you have to work very hard at if you don't start in the primary years and then want to do seriously later on, but if your DD is 4 then you have plenty of time.
We give our DD lots of opportunity to try things - I'm disabled and both DH and I work long hours so the usual running around things aren't so easy to do.
There have been times when we have realised things aren't quite working and have taken a break. DD does singing classes which she loves, but when we tried the piano when she was 6, it became very obvious that she wasn't ready for it and wasn't enjoying it. We stopped after a term and she hasn't once asked about it again, yet begged to join the school choir and for another singing lesson a week.
DD also does drama, modern dance and starts ballet again in January. I have found that the quality of the teaching makes a huge difference to whether a class is enjoyable. If you are doing private classes in anything, find the best teachers you can in your area and don't be scared of moving if things aren't what you are after.
What about rhythmic gymnastics if there is a club around you, they use a ball as one part of the apparatus & it's a combination of ballet & gymnastics flexibility so might be a good combo for your dd?
I think the best thing to do at that age is try lots of things out while they are still young enough to start and stop things without being behind others and before masses of homework kicks in. Both mine have done trampolining for spells, that would be worth considering.
Something like Kodaly for music or Suzuki are music classes than are started under 5. An instrument would be too difficult but both those approaches are good for developing musicality.
Gym - is great and helps with dance especially if she wants to do dance at some point in the future, the flexibility she learns at gym gives really helps.
Dance - ballet I would say about age 5/6 to start or a school offering tap, modern etc. so she can try different things.
Swimming - because it's a life skill
Football? Most start around 4 near us and the better players at 7/8 defo started younger. Footy for 4 year olds is all fun games, agility and ball skils
Ballet will help her gym as well. I'd give that another go, as it's something she is interested in.
Can she ride a bike? My dc have been going to cycle club since age 3
If you don't want to commit too much time to any one hobby don't get your hopes up for her to be good at gymnastics- dd2 is 7.5 and already spends 9 hours a week (over 3 sessions) at the gym. And I believe that will go up again next year!
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