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How many/which activities for a 3 year old - advice wanted!

(31 Posts)
usingapseudonym Sun 08-Jan-12 13:43:47

I would love for my 3 year old to do swimming lessons (we live near the beach she really does need to learn) and to do ballet (even if its just as a pre-schooler, doesn't every girl do ballet at some point - and the "baby ballet" near us is mainly fun based and looks great) and to do gymnastics/tramp (she did it for a while when she was 2 and often talks about it - there is a great place near us with proper equipment and its a great start for all sports) and she loves music lessons.

She also does pre-school 2 mornings a week (will be 3 in April).

So er- firstly that seems too much swim, ballet, gym, music AND pre-school does seem a lot to do. There is another part of my head that wants to just take her out running and exploring countryside and playing lots and not have her doing tons of structured bits.

And secondly we actually couldn't afford to do all that. We really can't afford to do any of it in that we're having to decide priorities. We don't buy new clothes much, eat simply, tiny house so not money or room for many toys... but a huge part of me wants to give her a chance to do things I didn't.

Any idea which of the above you'd prioritise? Does/did your 3 year old do any activities/ lots? Or should I wait until she's at school and just let her play now?
its a minefield isn't it. I do wish we had lots of money! They may "only" be £5 a session but if I was to do that every day we couldn't afford that!


Notinmykitchen Sun 08-Jan-12 14:02:42

I agree that does sound like a lot. Have you asked her which she would like to try doing?

purepurple Sun 08-Jan-12 14:07:03

Ask at the pre-school if they do any structured lessons. Lots of places have ballet teachers that come in and do mini lessons, football and music too.
If they don't it might be something that they could do.

Wigeon Sun 08-Jan-12 14:08:48

You have absolutely years and years to give your DD opportunity to try all sorts of things - you can do all those things but over the coming years.

My DD's week is like this (she is 3.5):

Mon - pre-school in afternoon
Tues - stay and play at the Toy Library (cost: £1)
Wed - Dinky Dancers in morning (cost: £2 a session, booked through children's centre and subsidised by them), pre-school in afternoon
Thurs - pre school in morning
Fri - Stay and play at children's centre (cost £2)

So basically one "class" a week - Dinky Dancers.

I think that's plenty for her (and me and DD2 who is 7 months!). We also fit in: trips to supermarket, post office, playground, park / woods, visits to friend's houses etc.

nearlytherenow Sun 08-Jan-12 14:16:06

I used to have something on every day with my DS1: swimming lesson, toddler group, preschool x2, a football class, tumbletots, music group... it was exhausting for both of us. Once he turned 3 he started really objecting and saying that he didn't want to go to things, and I ended up cutting loads of this.

Now, at 3.4, he does preschool, toddlers (more for his little brother's benefit than his) and the football class (which was his favourite activity). We still do things - park, walks, swimming trips etc, but I find it easier when its not scheduled and can be done at a time that suits us (and when he's in a co-operative mood!). He definitely reached the point where he needed time to potter about on his own with lego and cars and his train set, and have friends round to play in an unstructured way. He gets so much out of just "life" - getting to do the self-scan at the supermarket, helping me put the washing on etc, that I don't think he's missing out at all by not doing the classes (and as purepurple suggests, quite a lot is covered at preschool anyway). I still suspect that his favourite days are the ones which we spend at home or pottering about in the woods.

Obviously all children are different and your DD will probably have a fair idea of what she would like to do, but don't feel that she'll be missing out if you limit her to one or two classes.

lljkk Sun 08-Jan-12 14:53:56

She's so young! You really shouldn't worry so early, esp. if money is tight. Future opportunities will be so many.

ymmv, but imho most 3yos can't really learn to swim. Water confidence is only thing you can realistically hope to achieve at the moment, and that only requires 1-2x/month leisure outings.

Dance/Gym/sport/Music clubs for toddlers, meh, mostly not well organised ime, or your DD will be the one who refuses to cooperate & climbs things backwards & runs around the room while others sit & sing nicely Plus you can do all that at cheap Toddler groups.

I have a 10yo DD who swims fantastically, excels at most sport, loves Brownies (been Sixer for ages), just joined Street Dance... she didn't do barely any clubs or activities before 7.5yo.

chaosisawayoflife Mon 09-Jan-12 20:15:24

My dd1 is 3.5. She does one full day and 3 x 3hr pre-school sessions a week. She also has swimming and ballet lessons every week. This seems about right. Think about what you can do with her yourself and what you want others to teach her, and also what she really wants to do. Eg, I also have a 6 month old so can't really take dd1 swimming myself, so she has lessons, but we do lots of singing, dancing and playing music at home so I don't feel the need to take her to Jo jingles type classes. We also go to the park and soft play so don't need to do activity type classes. However she was desperate to do ballet, so we signed up for that. If she is your youngest, you could take her swimming yourself every week and she'd probably pick it up add quickly or even quicker than she would in a class with 4 or 5 others.

wearymum200 Mon 09-Jan-12 20:16:27

My 3yo dd does preschool 3 mornings and nursery 3 afternoons. 2 days a week we potter together, housework, puzzles ,loads of stories , scrapbooks and sticker books, dancing to cds ,library trips, park, scooting. No extra classes at all. I took ds1 to toddler groups more frequently when he was 3, as dd2 was then newborn (and he was less keen on pottering and more keen on vigorous activity). Again, no "classes". I'd prioritise swimming for safety's sakeonce 5ish. But that is enough maybe. Time with you is prob the most valuable thing.

pudding25 Mon 09-Jan-12 21:48:56

My DD (3.8) does preschool 5 days a week until 2pm. She does various activities at school. Apart from that, she does ballet once a week and I think I will start her at swimming when she is 4.

usingapseudonym Mon 09-Jan-12 22:05:17

Thanks for all the replies.

It seems most people on the thread are doing a lot more preschool than we are - so I guess I'm trying to fill the days I'm not doing preschool! Come September I will probably put her up to 4 mornings (3 hours) and maybe 5 for the last term before she starts school but this year is just "extra" really, so I have 3 full days and 2 afternoons to fill. I also have a new baby and my husband works away so it feels like 7-7 is a very long time.

I didn't actually think she should do all the things in the list! I can just see good reasons for all of them and am finding it hard to decide what to do.

Notinmykitchen Asking her isn't any good - she loves all organised activites. She saw the swimming lessons last week when I went to enquire about them and has been asking me every day when we are going. She loves pre-school, loves the music group we've been going to, has asked about ballet. She is a very active child that loves joining in group things. We don't have a lot of casual friends here (moved) and so I think she loves going to things with other children. We do go to a playgroup once a week which she also loves... of course I wouldn't take her to anything she didn't!

purepurple The pre-school don't do anything like that. They are an amazing pre-school but do only open for the 3hours everymorning. It's mainly play-based with storytime/ songtime/outdoortime/snacktime/ etc which is one of the things I do love about it. Mainly older workers who absolutely love the children. She has thrived there which is fab.

wigeon and nearlytherenow that's really helpful thanks. I think I just wanted to guage what other people did. The mums I used to know from gym had their kids at tennis/french/etc so probably weren't the best to compare to!

lljkk I agree that a lot of toddler classes are a waste of money or badly run etc. I'm incredibly "lucky" in that I've found options locally that are fantastic. The gym is the countys training gym and has a great fun group for little ones (but I'm realising she really doesn't need to go - she did lvoe it when she was younger) and the music group is great. It's independent and far better than jo jingles type class. I've been going for ages and don't want to stop that one as she has friends there now etc.

I might put her in for a term of swimming and then just take her once a month as a family when my baby is bigger. Ballet is still tempting though. Would be a lovely thing to have done for a term or two although I'm more than happy if she didn't do that one for life as its so expensive isn't it!

I had thought (wrongly) that on mumsnet I would have people listing french/tennis/ballet/gym/etc or something everyday - its lovely to hear that I really don't need to do all that at this age.

sensesworkingovertime Tue 10-Jan-12 19:57:40

I think this is a case of activity overload. I think at any age one or two for the child to concentrate on is plenty. They also need time to use their imagination and play, it's so important and without supervision (except for safety etc). I read a quote recently and agreed it probably true that a child's happiest memories will be of playing without an adult around.

That must sound negative, I don't mean to be because it's really good that you are giving your child these opportunities. Personally, I would Definately keep up the swimming lessons, you'll feel much safer around water and it's brilliant exercise. As regards the gym and ballet, surely at this age these could be rolled into one as they will probably be getting as much out of both of them. If they are still interested in learning an instrument when older by all means encourage it but at this age they can learn all they need by experimenting with home made or toy instruments and listening to music. If you have a simple keyboard you could even teach them the basics - you don't need to fork out a fortune.

I am having a similar 'problem' now with my soon to be 10 year old DD. She has a music lesson and horse riding lessons and does football after school and now she wants to learn karate. Must go and plant that money tree....seriously, though don't underestimate the value of the time that YOU spend with her doing things, which is FREE. I'm sure you'll come to the right decision as you sound like you want what's best for her!

naturalbaby Tue 10-Jan-12 21:23:57

i felt the same with my 3yr old. i have boys so swap ballet for football!
i did a few free taster sessions and in the end football was the one that i felt was the best activity for them. one of the dance sessions parents had to be out the room so that was no good for us, and i just wanted them to have a bit of structure and get used to following instructions from an adult so it fitted perfectly. our local gymnastics club do a great toddler session so i'm hoping to get them going there too when we've had a few months of saving up.

i took them swimming at the leisure centre whenever i could but now i've discovered there's a kids drop in swimming lesson which is brilliant. you don't have to go every week but for £4 it's really worth it on top of the other stuff.

i know they'll have loads of extra curricular stuff later on at school so am not too worried about doing too much now. my 3yr old was happy to go to the local toddler groups with his little brothers most days, but is now in nursery most mornings.

we do a bit of tennis in the garden and listen to kids french/german music cd's a lot wink

tostaky Tue 10-Jan-12 22:00:59

3 full days at nursery
Half an hour swim lesson on Sunday
45 mins music class on Monday
That's it for us!

exoticfruits Tue 10-Jan-12 22:36:37

She has years ahead to do it all.Go for swimming-that is an essential life skill and may save her life.

usingapseudonym Wed 11-Jan-12 13:31:52

Thanks smile

I have her all day with me nearly everyday (only 2 mornings at pre-school) so we do plenty of garden time, playtime, mummy time, (and cbeebies but don't tell anyone) and an awful lot of "play on her own while mummy does x" time so I'm not too worried about that. The list at the top was more a list of possibilities than a suggestion she do them all!

Looks like we might just stick with that and the music group (fantastic group of mums and kids and she loves it) and maybe start swimming. I'm torn now as some people seem to leave it til they're older!

Doitnicelyplease Wed 11-Jan-12 17:25:21

DD 3.4 is an only and loves other children and is very sporty/active so we have always done at least a couple of classes a week to keep us busy and provide a bit of structure. She much prefers meeting up with friends and running around than pottering around the house playing with toys but each child is different.

Currently she does football on Wed for an hour, Pre-school for 2.5 hours Tuesday and Thursday and another sport/gym class on Friday mornings for an hour. She was doing swimming on Sat mornings also but we are taking a break from that this term.

I would love her to do gymnastics as well but I am waiting until she is a bit older for that.

She is at an age where she enjoys being with her peers and if we just went to a toddler or jungle gym drop in it is mainly younger children and not as fun for her.

She used to do more art/craft/music classes, but does that stuff at pre-school now. Also we tend to sign up for more in the winter as if the weather is rubbish and we get stuck inside a lot.

We still have plenty of time in our week for spontanous fun and outings to the beach/park/shops etc, but also benefit from some structure.

user1488750702 Tue 11-Apr-17 14:00:53

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Notenoughtime123 Tue 11-Apr-17 22:23:48

My 3.8 year old does gym on Monday, music (suzuki pre-instrument classes) on Wednesday and ballet on a Saturday. We dont do preschool or nursery and do meet up with friends and spend lots of time at park etc. There are also various drop -ins such as story time at library or toddlers groups we can go to if we wish. However, we can afford it and our dd is happy and extremely active. We swim most weeks and do lots of cycling and nature walks too. However, if she was in preschool/nursery we would do less as some unstructured time every day is important.

Imi22sleeping Fri 14-Apr-17 07:54:20

My daughter is at pre school 4afternoons and 1morning making one full day she also does swimming and ballet and toddler group

Andcake Fri 14-Apr-17 08:15:53

At that age I did a class with family everyday I had him on my own for s full day except for one which I kept free for other things.
I have always prioritised swimming so I would do that plus one other and vary that the next term.

Andcake Fri 14-Apr-17 08:16:56

Bloody auto correct with ds 😕

Ecureuil Fri 14-Apr-17 08:20:25

She sounds like my 3 year old who is desperate to do all activities!
Mine does 2.5 days at pre school, swimming lessons on a Wednesday afternoon and ballet on a Saturday morning. She keeps asking and asking to do gymnastics but I have 21 month old DD2 too and don't fancy trying to keep her occupied while DD1 is doing gymnastics, she'd want to join in and it would be a nightmare (DM has DD2 while we're at swimming lessons and DH has her while we're at ballet).
We have two weekdays together with no structured activities when we go to farms/country parks etc, and one weekend day with no activities when we go out as a family.
If she still wants to do gymnastics in a year's time I'll arrange it for her.

Ecureuil Fri 14-Apr-17 08:22:35

Oh and we do a gardening club after pre school on a Monday and a music class on a Friday (with both DD's). It sounds a lot but she loves them all and wouldn't want to stop any.
I'd definitely prioritise swimming, DD is 3.5 and can swim 10m without armbands.

Yika Fri 14-Apr-17 08:28:24

As you have said, it's a lot. I would go for gym and music as they are really beneficial at this age. She is too young for ballet, and a 3 year old is also too young to learn to swim. So: take her to the pool yourself for water confidence and revisit the idea of lessons around age 5.

If you want weekly activities to fill the down time between pre-school you could schedule these in yourself and do them at free or low cost:
- once a week nature walk to find a list of treasures
- once a week a 'special' playground outing
- once a week swimming with you
- once a week have a friend over for messy play

Ecureuil Fri 14-Apr-17 08:36:38

She is too young for ballet, and a 3 year old is also too young to learn to swim

I beg to differ wink. My 3.5 year old adores ballet, it's her favourite activity and she's in a class of 2-4 year olds. She can also swim without arm bands.

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