Some Boy is getting to that age now: he's moving on from toddler crafts, wanting to do more advanced things.
He's obsessed with friends and art lately, and he lays quite the little guilt trip. “Can we do art today? I want to do crafts! When can we see friends? Frieeeeeends?”
We don't know a lot of people with kids his age, so I have to go pretty far out of my way to make sure he gets some social interaction. It's hard making sure Sidekick's needs don't get lost in the shuffle as we try to arrange playdates and more advanced learning for Some Boy. As one enters the preschool phase, I struggle to remember that the other still needs those more basic things: speech skills, number practice, toddler crafts for dexterity.
Someone suggested that we take the boys to a family Gymboree class, and I finally got around to it the other day. I've been a long-time fan of Gymboree's clothing, so I figured they'd put the same commitment into their playing and learning environment. We worked with Gymboree to pick out an art session, per Some Boy's request. They also have various music and educational classes broken out by age level to focus on the developmental needs of each child, as well as family sessions that offer a broader range for kids from about 18 months to 5 years old.
The teacher who taught our class told me she had a 3-year-old of her own, and her experience was obvious as she gracefully catered her lesson to the children present. She based every activity around a cute little song about a frog that she sang throughout the class. We made play dough frogs, frogs on a log, froggy faces and shaving cream painted frogs.
The shaving cream thing was genius – she had the kids use washable paint to dye shaving cream in various colors and “paint” with it on sturdy construction paper. At the end of the project, the shaving cream washed right off of the skin, just like it's made to! I was so inspired to see the boys playing happily together on these toddler crafts-turned-preschool activities that I decided it's high time we make a dedicated art corner at home.
I just discovered that there is a Gymboree Play & Music location next to my masseuse, so I'm totally going to be taking advantage of this space to send the boys with dad when mom needs a massage. I saw several dads playing with their kids in the gym area while mom was off at work or taking a break. It definitely beats making them circle the parking lot for an hour or shop for groceries. Gymboree has monthly memberships available with various per-class fees depending on the length of the class. This is a really good option for families like us who want a range of activities such as toddler crafts, elementary school preparation and sports education without committing to a formal childcare environment.
How do you balance learning for multiple children in different age groups?