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What to Look for in a Toddler Gym Class

by Kay Ireland

Signing up your toddler for a gym class is an excellent opportunity for your little one to work on his gross motor skills, socialize with other kids and stay engaged. Hey, you might even snag a few minutes of "me" time too, which is why you should choose your gym class carefully. Looking for the right facilities and competent, kind and fun instructors means that both you and your little one will love a kid-centric gym class.

Facilities

Before you register for a class, ask for a tour of the facilities. A well-stocked toddler gym has plenty of stations and activities for your little one's short attention span. Above all, though, a gym should have a focus on safety and hygiene, with mats to cushion inevitable falls, clean facilities and hand sanitizer to keep the germs at bay. Your toddler will also enjoy a gym that's brightly colored, which is more stimulating.

Activity Focus

Observing a gym class helps you learn more about the main focus and the various activities included. The activities will vary from gym to gym and may include tumbling, balance work, free play and music time. Above all, a toddler gym should place an emphasis on fostering development in a safe and friendly way, including gross motor skills such as kicking, catching a ball and climbing stairs, according to the University of Pennsylvania Child Welfare Competency-Based Training and Certification Program. Structured activities can be mixed in with free play for a positive experience for your active cutie.

Staff

Those who work at a toddler gym need to be engaged, fun and friendly. Watch to see how the staff interacts with the children and how the children respond. You'll be able to tell if there's a mutual connection between the two just by watching. You can also ask about the staff's past experience -- look for workers who have had experience in child care, early childhood education, fitness and gymnastics and daycare. iSport also suggests watching how the other kids respond to the staff members. They should be happy and excited to be there, not upset or scared.

Interaction

Some toddler gyms allow you to act as a spectator while your little one has all the fun, while others are more along the lines of Mom and Me programs, which require you to play along with your toddler. It's up to you as to how much interaction you want to have with your toddler while he's in his gym class. For some, it's bonding time, while others prefer a little quiet time to observe and catch up on emails.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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