When to start sports & activities? - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > When to start sports & activities?
SomedayMaybe3's Avatar SomedayMaybe3 01:18 PM 09-11-2010
DD will be 3 soon and I've been looking into gymnastics for her. They have her age but I'm wondering if I'm trying to start her too early in things. What seems to be the best age? What are your kids involved in? If ur DC isn't into sports what kind of involvement did u find for them? Thanks! Just doing some research for now and for the future


ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 02:49 PM 09-11-2010
It's one of those "depends on the kid" things. There are some who will say that 3 y.o. is too young for activities, or not necessary. I'd focus more on whether it's enjoyable for the child and if they can participate happily.

For something like gymnastics, some things to consider:

- interest-level in the activity
- ability to listen to instructions - and follow them!
- ability to wait
- ability to take turns
- format for the class - is there parental involvement or are the parents on the sidelines - if sidelined, is the child comfortable with that situation?

By 3 y.o, my dc had enjoyed Parent-and-tot swim activities and some Mommy-and-me song and play activity groups when they were toddlers. They were pretty comfortable with the concept of lessons and activities. It wasn't hard to move into a class with other children and an instructor - and no mom or dad! DD started a basic dance (pre-ballet) class at 3 and had a lot of fun with it. There were definitely a couple of kids who weren't ready though.
nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial 03:13 PM 09-11-2010
My daughter did a Gymboree class from 12 months til age four, when she switched to a regular gymnastics class and a dance class.

She stuck with dance but, dropped the gymnastics class at age six.

I think she really needed the extra classes outside the home even as a toddler. I was home with her all day, and I had a daycare, so she was always with the same kids. Gymboree was something we did together without having to share me. We really enjoyed those classes.

But, she really came alive in dance. It was obvious right away that dance was her thing. Dance morphed into all types of music.

We tried soccer. That wasn't her thing at all. (besides, I could never learn to unfold that little lawn chair all the moms had)

ETA. She's 18 yrs old now, and she is still close friends with three kids she met in Gymboree when they were babies. They all still go to school together.
Areia's Avatar Areia 03:18 PM 09-11-2010
My daughter recently turned 3 and she's not ready for an organized class like that. She's just started preschool and that is helping her learn to stay more focused on routine so maybe she'll be ready by 3.5. Otherwise, we're waiting until she's 4 before signing up for a class.
fritz's Avatar fritz 10:18 PM 09-11-2010
I completely agree it depends on the child's personality/development. I've known for a while that DS is an introvert; he almost never wants to play with other kids. He's also been very attached to me, so I wasn't sure how well he'd handle being in a class without me. So we waited.

My DS is almost 5.5 and he just had his very first class today--tap dance. He enjoyed the class and is looking forward to going again next week (it runs through May). It's only 30 minutes, so not too long. We were concerned, going into it basically blind, that DS wouldn't like it and we'd be out a lot of money...but I researched their refund policy, and basically we'd only be out for a couple weeks (you pay by the month).

So you could always try to find a place that will either let you do a drop-in, just to try it out, or a place with a decent refund policy so if your DD hates it, you're not out too much money.

I chose tap b/c DS just seems to be a natural tap dancer (maybe it was all the Singin' in the Rain we watched when he was younger?). I would have put him in a tap and tumble class, but he's too old for the ones offered in our area. So it's good you're thinking about this now =).
LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6 10:25 PM 09-11-2010
3 is on the young side, but some kids really thrive in activities. Our dd was like that. We could sign her up for anything, and she'd love to go.

Our ds, on the other hand, was 8 before he was really interested in organized anything. The few classes we tried at age 3 were a complete disaster. He started to get interested about 7, but it wasn't until 3rd grade that he really wanted to.

ETA: What's your child like in new situations? Our ds is very slow to warm up, and so that's why he didn't like classes. Our dd is a "leap before you look" kind of kid, so she's willing to try most things.
ChetMC's Avatar ChetMC 07:38 AM 09-12-2010
I saw a big difference in how much our oldest enjoyed activities between age three and age four. She was in some stuff when she was three and she did okay, but we might as well have waited until she was four. Once I saw the difference between age three and age four I think she was just tolerating stuff the first year.

Our second DD loves going to activities, but it needs to be purely fun. She can't handle any much structure or direction. She just wants to play. At 4.5 even a creative movement type dance class was a stretch for her.

When something is a good fit for your kid its obvious pretty quickly. I don't understand these parents I see killing themselves to get their three year old to go to karate class or art class when the kid really doesn't want to do it, or is struggling to fit into the class.

When I worked for our local rec department it was awful to have kids registered for stuff they really didn't want to do - it really made it harder for the teacher and the other kids, and if the kids wasn't having fun what's the point?
MJB's Avatar MJB 11:09 AM 09-12-2010
Both of my boys loved activities at 3. My second wanted to start sooner but there wasn't much available. He did start preschool at 2.5 (2 half-days a week) and loved it.
We did have a problem with preschool soccer; he got very upset that they didn't play real games and it was too chaotic (every kid had a ball and they all just ran around). We decided to wait on team sports until kindergarten (now) and stuck to things like swimming, gymnastics, and spanish. He's in soccer again now and likes it although he still gets frustrated because the other kids don't know all the rules. He really loves soccer, though, and is mature enough to deal with his frustration now.
I will probably start my baby girl in activities at 2.5-3 assuming she is interested. I've never had a kid who didn't want to do fun stuff!
ellairiesmom's Avatar ellairiesmom 01:40 PM 09-12-2010
Def depends on the child. DD1 turns 3 in 2 weeks & she is going to start 2 mornings of preschool this week & town rec league T-Ball in 2 weeks. I wasn't necessarily ready for her to start preschool but she asked me if she could go to school like Jack (next door neighbor's 4 yo) so we are giving it a try.

T-ball is 1 day a week, for 6 weeks...and it's only 45 mins. I think that's a good, short intro to an activity???

She is extremely verbal & outgoing so I figured we could give this stuff a try at 3. If she is happy & enjoys it, we will try some sort of gymnastics or dance for the winter session.
dawncayden's Avatar dawncayden 07:50 PM 09-12-2010
For us we did parent participation classes until ds1 was 3.5 years. He took his first 'on his own' class at 3.5. It was karate. It was only 30 min, and the instructor was awesome with kids. We were sitting in the room and he was able to sit out if he had enough running around. For him this was a good age, and a good class/teacher.
Twinklefae's Avatar Twinklefae 09:06 PM 09-12-2010
I think it depends more on the class than the child. My DS is just turned three, and he wouldn't be ready for a truly organized, sit and follow all the rules class. So we put him in the 'soccer' class organized through the Public Recreation and it's perfect.

It's 30min, taught by 3 teenage girls and it's mostly twenty 3 year olds running after soccer balls while their parents sit on the sidelines and laugh. They work a little bit on skills like stopping the ball and dribbling through fun 'stop and go' games. But it's really fun, and two of his friends go. (And it's only $14 for 8 weeks!)
leighi123's Avatar leighi123 11:54 PM 09-12-2010
ds has been in gymnastics sense he was 11months. At 3, he is now starting the class 'without mommy in the room' (they have one way mirrors).

He also does a science class once a week. And we have done story time sense he was 4months old.

He took ballet in the summer too, and has done swimming for the past 2 summers.
angelandmisha's Avatar angelandmisha 06:34 AM 09-13-2010
My ds is just 3 and we've been going to Music Together since he was 15 months old and I can't say enough good things about it! This summer we added a class at The Little Gym. It's a parent/child class, as is Music Together which works for him. There's no way he'd be ready to be in a class by himself right now. And honestly, he doesn't care for the first part of the class which is more organized in a circle type fashion. He loves the free play exploration time, although doesn't want the other kids to get too close. They usually have the 3 year olds in class by themselves at The Little Gym, but they were fine with letting us stay in the parent/child class since he's not ready for the solo one. This week we're adding a music based Spanish class that is a parent/child class offered at our Music Together school. We've also done a parent/child art class, but that didn't go over great. He was very hesitant to try anything, I think the other kids moving around so much overwhelmed him. He just needs more personal space.

I think it totally depends on your child, but I wouldn't push her to do things she's not ready for or interested in. I'd try different things and see what feels like a good fit. Most places will offer a free demo class which is informative.
loraxc's Avatar loraxc 11:07 AM 09-13-2010
When something is a good fit for your kid its obvious pretty quickly. I don't understand these parents I see killing themselves to get their three year old to go to karate class or art class when the kid really doesn't want to do it, or is struggling to fit into the class.
ITA with this. I think it's fine to try at 3 if you think your kid is the type to be into it, but you should be willing to ditch it, too. A 6-week class is probably a good start. Personally, I sometimes lead a group activity with kids aged 3-6 and boy, oh, boy, the 3yos are just not ready for a whole lot of stuff. The older kids just benefit so much more.