I see the signs everywhere just like you do. There is Kindermusik. Then there are swimming classes, ballet classes, and language classes. You can get overcome with the number of classes out there for your baby.
We have made the decision not to attend these classes. We will send our son to swimming lessons when he is a little older, and we may offer him dance classes. My husband cannot wait until mini-soccer comes calling. I am tired just thinking about it.
In the meantime, we have decided to educate our son on our own. We have some advantages. I played several instruments for 12 years, and although I no longer play professionally, I can still strike up a tune that will interest my son. We purchased castanets, triangles, and other toys for him so that he can learn to make music. We play classical tunes in the mornings and silly children's songs in the car. Our son will learn more about music through our little informal lessons that in a course with other little tykes.
We also are teaching our son Spanish. Language skills are invaluable, and children who are bilingual before the age of five have a higher IQ. It is important to us to give him these skills. I speak French, and my husband speaks a little Spanish. We decided that Spanish was more practical, and we are learning the language and all about the customs to teach Jayden. He does not need a class; he has his everyday life where we will celebrate Spanish holidays and learning uno, dos, tres, along with one, two three.
Other parts of life, too, we can teach Jayden through informal (or even some formal) learning at home. Our baby does not need a structured environment for every moment of his day. While story time at the library will be fun when he is old enough to go, we will not need extra reading classes or craft classes.
We have decided in this time when parenting is about over-scheduling even your baby that we will stand up for Jayden's babyhood. We will let him learn for himself by pulling pots out of the cabinets and banging on them. We will let him learn for himself by playing with leaves in the park. We will let him learn by himself by sitting with a crayon and coloring book without someone hovering over him and holding his hand.
In short, we will let him be a baby. While we do believe in fostering Jayden's intelligence, we also believe that being a baby is about exploring and forming an identity, not about running to classes. I hope that in the next few years, parents will see that they can sit back and enjoy their babies. These little ones need to be permitted to find themselves and experience their inner creativity on their own. That does not mean that we should eschew all lessons, but perhaps we should wait until the baby gets old enough to express an interest.
By Brandi Rhoades