5 Things to consider when picking a class for your 3-5-year-olds
The preschool years are lightning quick. They go by fast for many reasons – because your child is developing so quickly and because you barely have time to breathe, much less sleep during them! While your preschooler’s gross motor skills development may not be as visible during these years as it was during the previous ones, when he went from being immobile to running, he is making a lot of advances in his body strength, balance, and ability to navigate his environment efficiently. Similarly, his fine motor skills are becoming more refined as he prepares to start the ultimate fine motor task – writing. Cognitive skill development may be the clearest during this period, as your child develops the ability to ask questions and make connections that regularly impress you. Your child’s social skills are also advancing as he becomes less dependent on you and more interested in playing with peers. Speaking of play, his play skills now include complicated pretend play scenarios with heroes, villains, and a wide range of feelings.
Whether you decide to focus on a specific area of development when picking classes or want to ensure your child gets a good balance when practicing their skills in classes, it is important to understand how classes may address your child’s various skill sets during this stage of development so you can make the best choices for your child.
Gross Motor Skills
Classes that address gross motor skills development during the preschool years will likely focus on more advanced motor movements that involve motor planning. This means that your child will have to plan his movements (i.e., figure out how to get over an obstacle or kick a ball in the right spot) rather than just being expected to move his body.
Fine Motor Skills
As pre-writing skills are a big focus of the preschool years to get your child ready for kindergarten, you may be expecting coloring and drawing to be the primary form of fine motor skill development in classes for this age group. While this is undoubtedly common, classes may also address fine motor skills through building, playing instruments, or arts and crafts.
Activities that are focused on cognitive skill development may involve letters, numbers, and other school readiness activities. However, another important aspect of cognitive development during this stage include simple problem solving and coming up with creative ways to reach a goal, such as figuring out what tool will solve a problem or what steps to take to get through an obstacle course.
Social skills will become even more important as your child gets older and his friends become a bigger and bigger part of his life. Classes that promote social skills development will involve turn taking, sharing, and, for older preschoolers, working together with peers to complete a task or reach a goal.
The biggest change in play skills during the preschool years involves the development of pretend play. Classes that promote play skills will involve creativity and activities that involve pretend play such as creating costumes, characters, or stories.
It can be tempting to choose classes that are academically focused on preparing your preschooler for kindergarten, but as you now know, there are many more aspects to healthy development to take into consideration!
Here are some of the classes that will help address some of these skills for your little one
STEAM Class (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math) by FasTracKids for cognitive and fine motor skills
Beauty & the Beast the Musical with an art workshop for play and Fine motor skills
Yo-Dan-Nastics™ combining Yoga, Dance and Gymnastics for Gross motor skills
Kelsey Helgesen is a pediatric occupational therapist in New York City. She graduated with a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Southern California and has provided both school-based and home-based early intervention occupational therapy services. Kelsey is currently a doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University where she is studying Infant and Early Childhood Development. She is particularly interested in childhood trauma and its relationship to sensory processing. Kelsey is also a foster mother caring for one to two children at any given time.