Do Babies Need to Take Classes?

I have a lot of good friends whose opinions I value and whose parenting decisions I would never second guess, who ask me if my twins are taking classes for various things.

My kids are two and a half years old. They’ll probably go to preschool in the fall, and from that point, if they’re like their parents, they’ll be in classes for at least the next twenty years. I think it’s okay if they do independent study for the first three.

The reasoning behind these pre-preschool classes is not ridiculous, I suppose. Get kids socialized, provide some developmentally appropriate stimulus, and get them used to the idea of learning from someone other than their parents. I suspect–and this has been corroborated by the very people who recommend these classes–that part of their appeal is the opportunity they provide for parents (moms, mostly) to hang out with each other.

That’s all fine, if it’s what you’re into. Maybe you feel like your kid (and you) need some kind of structure to make the most of your time together. Maybe you have more trust in an “expert” than in yourself to teach your kids the skills they need to succeed, or to be better kids, or to have fun, or whatever. As far as the value of these classes for my kids and me, I’m ambivalent at best.

On one hand, I do feel (especially after having been touring preschools lately) that my kids will be going into the proverbial lion’s den when they show up for their first day of school having never been away from their parents for more than a couple hours at a stretch. But on the other hand, I’m selfish and lazy.

Frankly, I cling jealously to these first few years where my wife and I are the center of our kids’ attention, even if they do sometimes drive us nuts. There will be a lot of other adults (and peers, God help us) in their lives soon enough; and our primacy will fade. So screw some cat from the local community center or for-profit kids’ edu-tainment outlet. I can teach my kids to play on the monkey bars, beat on a guitar, sing loudly and tunelessly, dance like spazzes, love books and run around in the woods myself, thanks very much.

As for the laziness, that’s another aspect of this era that I cherish. I know what’s coming down the pike. Gulping down meals, scrambling for the bus, dashing from one structured event to the next. Right now I’m very content to do one low-pressure activity per day, and never worry about being late. It may be the last few months of that for any of us.




About BetaDad

BetaDad is a fortysomething stay-at-home dad who is sometimes allowed out to build stuff out of wood or teach college students how to write. Most of the time he just chases his toddler twin girls around though. He Dad can also be found at his personal blog as well as Daddy Dialectic, Dad Centric, Insert Eyeroll, and Man Of The House


  1. Vanessa says:

    Awesome article! Love it couldn’t agree more!

  2. WorkingMom says:

    Always find it amazing that nowadays people can take anything and turn it into a moneymaker, including the pre-preschool class thing. But I also understand that the neighborhoods of today have little to no resemblance to the neighborhoods we grew up in, where you made your own fun (because if you didn’t, parents would find a “project” for you to do, like weeding the lawn of all dandelions or cleaning out the garage or stacking wood). Can’t agree with you more though – they get on the hamster wheel soon enough. There’s a lot to be said for “unstructured play time”.

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  3. Brian McArthur says:

    Good stuff BetaDad. Keep it real!

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