Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Preschool Enrichment Programs
Something to suit every interest

by Michelle Shirk

October 01, 2013

The preschool years are a special time in a child’s life. If your little one falls in the two-to- five age group, you’re probably ready to explore some new ways to help him or her learn and grow.

Stephanie Squint, Dance Director at the Indy Dance Academy, believes the preschool age is a good time to introduce a child to a new class or activity. The Indy Dance Academy offers an array of classes designed to get young kids moving and participating in the classroom while allowing them to meet students who are not necessarily part of their school group. “[Taking a class] also gives them the opportunity to explore different dance styles,” says Squint.

While dance is a great extracurricular option, it may not be the right choice for every preschooler. With many different classes and activities competing for your time and money, it can be a challenge to choose the right one for your child. When evaluating a program, Squint encourages parents to look at the credentials of the person teaching the class and ensure that the teacher has an adequate knowledge base. For example, she notes that in the case of dance, most students will learn important skills at a very young age, so it is a good idea to have an instructor from the beginning who is knowledgeable in dance terminology, classroom procedures and choreography.

Squint also recommends parents consider class size when choosing an enrichment activity. “You don’t want too many kids in a class, because then it can get a little bit out of hand,” she says. Finally, parents should look at the environment the child will be in, and whether it is safe and secure.

Of course, in selecting an enrichment option for your preschooler you will also need to take into account your family’s schedule, budget and personal preferences. Below, you’ll find our roundup of Indianapolis area enrichment programs selected to suit a wide variety of parent “wants.”

You Want: A program that will engage your physically active toddler

Check Out: The IU Natatorium (www.iunat.iupui.edu) offers an extensive schedule of preschool “Learn to Swim” classes for three and four year olds. These classes boast an impressive 1 to 4 coach to student ratio along with the opportunity for kids to learn an important life skill.

You Want: Fun and free!

Check Out: The Indianapolis Public Library is your go-to spot for no cost enrichment. Head to www.imcpl.org to find a dizzying array of preschool story times all over the Indianapolis area. These drop-in events featuring songs, rhymes, crafts and more provide a great way to enrich your child without spending a penny.

You Want: A class for a young dance lover

Check Out: The Indy Dance Academy (www.indydanceacademy.com) provides young kids with plenty of opportunities to move. Little ones can start in “Mommy and Me” sessions as young as 18 months old before moving on to independent classes like “Creative Movement” and “Creative Dance,” which introduce traditional ballet and tap techniques.

You Want: Single session enrichment activities

Check out: Each session of “Wee Wednesdays” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art () costs just $3 for members and $5 for non-members. Expect singing, gallery exploration and art activities. Advance registration is required for this program.

You Want: A wide variety of classes at one location

Check out: The Gymboree Play & Music (
www.gymboreeclasses.com) franchises in Carmel and Greenwood offer classes in art, music, sports and more for the preschool age group. In addition to their paid classes, enrolled Gymboree members receive access to several different “Open Gym” sessions per week.

As you can see, there’s truly something for everybody in the world of preschool enrichment. Choose the program that best suits your family’s style and enjoy exploring new activities with your child!