14 Mommy and Me — And Daddy and Me — Classes That Prove There’s More Variety Than Ever
By Jennifer Cox
Photos by @shmeather and @groovinonapps/Twenty20
Mar 29, 2018
When my son was born almost five years ago, I immediately started looking for mommy and me classes – activities that would allow us to spend quality time together. First up was swimming and music classes when he was a baby, then we took a few yoga classes together (which he absolutely loved), and today we can’t get enough of playing chef at cooking school.
While it’s great for children to try some solo classes on their own, it can also be a really nice experience to take a class with your child. There’s lots of learning and bonding to be had! And there are some really cool, fun and unique classes you can sign up for.
Check out these mommy (or daddy) and me classes you’ll love.
Classes for Babies
Stimulation classes have been touted to help babies achieve developmental milestones by engaging both you and your child in activities that encourage movement, language, perception and emotional development. These may be offered at local cafes or community centres, and the YMCA sometimes holds these stimulation groups as well. Look for a class that is close to home and works around your baby’s sleeping schedule.
Yoga has always been an amazing practice to help keep you in good physical and mental health, and this is especially true of new moms whose bodies are going through all kinds of changes following birth. Many yoga studios offer classes for both the parent and child where your baby is incorporated into the yoga movements that you are doing. It keeps them engaged and allows you to give your body a little TLC. Plus, you’ll get to meet other local parents.
So many babies love the water! It can be a wonderful outlet to expend some energy, to experiment with movement and to relax. Moms and dads will love spending time with their little water babies, whether it’s in an early swimming class for the child or an aqua fitness course for the parent. Water play will help introduce your baby to the water while easing you into physical activity. Contact any local swimming pool to get a schedule of classes that are available.
Many researchers believe that music plays an important role in building babies’ emotional basis and helping them gain a sense of confidence. There are a wide range of music classes you can enroll in with your baby that will be fun for the both of you. At this age, most of the classes combine songs and movement to provide a class that is very stimulating. You’ll love the social aspect of these music classes, too. Look for musical programs for babies through local dance studios and cafes. And in the summer, check the schedule for local parks.
Here’s the philosophy: Teach pre-verbal babies sign language and allow them to more easily convey their wants and emotions. You learn the signs with your child and then carry it through at home, so the entire process is very rewarding. Visit sign2me.com for a complete listing of baby sign language classes across the country and internationally.
Want to add some spice to your life? C’mon mamas (and papas) — put on that snuggly, load up your little one and learn some fiery new Latin dance moves! Your child will love swinging and swaying to the upbeat tempo and you’ll love brushing up on your salsa skills. It’s great exercise and super fun! Studios like Salsa Babies have various locations in Canada. Other dance studios offer similar courses, too.
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Classes for Toddlers
I found that getting my son involved in cooking has encouraged him to be a more adventurous and healthy eater. Cooking classes have given him a creative outlet to play with ingredients and learn more about preparing nutritious meals. It was also just a chance for the two of us to do something that we both enjoy. There are now hosts of cooking schools popping up in most major cities, but some grocery chains offer cooking classes for younger kids (and weekend workshops for older ones).
There’s a variety of art schools in Canada, each specializing in various mediums. And some of them offer some great hands-on classes for toddlers and their parents. Together, you can explore pottery and molding clay, painting in all its forms and other sensory activities that will allow your budding artist to experience new textures, improve fine motor skills and enjoy being creative in a group setting. Your local library may also offer craft-centric workshops for parents and their tots.
Crossfit isn’t just for the grownups anymore! The little ones are getting in on the high-energy workouts, too. Gyms offering crossfit classes are cluing in on new parents’ needs, and some have started to offer toddler participation in their courses. Let them watch as you take part in the workout or invite them to try some of the exercises themselves! They’ll have a ball experimenting with their strength, flexibility and more.
Classes for Kids
Kids love creating things with their own two hands, and when you build something together, it makes it even more special. My husband and son built a ladder and fort in his bedroom closet, and my son loves it because he made it with his daddy. Signing up for a class where you construct or make something as a team is a wonderful way to spend quality time doing something useful. You can find themed building classes at Home Depot stores (like “build a birdhouse”), craft workshops at Michaels’ craft stores and sewing/knitting classes at fabric stores.
Practicing martial arts is a great way to learn discipline as a family in a positive, rewarding environment. Whether you take karate, jiu jitsu, taekwondo or any of the other martial arts, it can help a child control aggressive behaviour, gain self-respect while teaching self-defence, focus, confidence and courtesy. Studios frequently hold open houses and demonstrations, so check out a few in your area and find one that your family likes.
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Classes for Tweens
Fly through the air with the greatest of ease… if you’re brave enough (I’m certainly not!). Circus sports, such as tightrope and aerial silks, straps and hoops have become a popular pastime, and there’s really no age limit on who can sign up. If you and your tween love to experiment with your flexibility and courage, look for local circus schools or high-end gyms that offer out-of-the-box courses like these.
Moms and dads can have cool dance moves, too (that go beyond raising the roof). Hip hop dance has become a go-to dance class for tween boys and girls alike, but now some studios offer courses the whole family can participate in. And some of them go beyond just hip hop instruction, offering more specialized dance classes like popping, breakdancing and more.
Get back to nature and sign up for horseback riding lessons with your tween. You’ll both enjoy this quiet, relaxing pastime, bonding with both the animals and each other while brushing up on your riding skills. If you live in a city, look for stables in the more rural areas that offer instructional riding lessons for adults and kids.