Caring For Our Kids

Fun indoor activities

Music classes are a fun indoor activity to keep kids busy this winter photo: H.C.I.Z.T.C. / flickr

With winter in full swing and park time limited, cold and rainy days can leave parents feeling a little stir crazy. Luckily, some great indoor activities will help your little ones get their wiggles out and keep you from climbing the walls. You don’t have to go far to find some of these great options. Here are a few of my neighborhood favorites:

MUSIC CLASSES
Most children at an early age enjoy music — either listening to it or trying to play it. There is nothing like a few spoons and some pots and pans to keep a child entertained, but if you are looking for something a little more structured, you might try Golden Gate Music Together (www.goldengatemusictogether.com). Located in Laurel Village (next to Right Start, which is very convenient) they have a clean and welcoming studio. Classes run 12 weeks and cost $299, and include two CDs and a songbook. These are still some of my children’s favorite sing-along songs. The classes are 45 minutes and include age-appropriate songs, movement, and instrument play.

Blue Bear Music (music.org) has two locations: Fort Mason and the Calvary Presbyterian Church on Fillmore Street. Classes begin for children as young as four months old. The cost ranges from $225–$245 per session. One of their more popular classes is geared for kids but includes songs from some of your favorite bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

TUMBLING/GYMNASTICS
In their new location in the Fillmore Center for over a year now, San Francisco Gymnastics (www.sanfranciscogymnastics.com), has classes for one–three year-olds, preschool-aged children, and recreational classes for kids aged seven and older. The facility isn’t as large as their former location in the Presidio, but it is clean with plenty of restrooms, and parking is easy during the day. Classes for the younger groups include some structured activities like parachute time but also offer a safe place for exploration and fun. They have a drop-in rate of $20 per class, which is helpful if you don’t want to commit to a full session or just need an activity on a rainy or cold day.

AcroSports (www.acrosports.org) is located near Golden Gate Park, and has classes geared toward students from 10 months old through elementary school. Because they have such a large facility, they are able to accommodate more equipment. Some of the popular attractions are the trapeze, trampolines, rope swings, and even a Zipline. There is definitely something here for everyone. I also like that they offer tuition assistance and classes for special needs students.

SWIMMING
With most of the local pools located indoors, this in an activity that can be enjoyed year round. It’s great to get a jump-start on lessons in the winter so your child is “water safe” by summer. La Petite Baleen

(www.swimlpb.com) has a fabulous facility in the Presidio with great teachers. The only drawback is they aren’t able to offer many “free swim” times for their members. They have a detailed ribbon or award system, which provides a great incentive and sense of accomplishment for the kids. Staff even ring a bell and announce your child’s name, which is a big hit with my children. Sessions include lots of fun accessories and tools to teach and keep the kids engaged. Lessons start for little ones as young as two months old and a parent or caregiver is in the water until the age of three. Group lessons are weekly and cost about $90 per month.

The Presidio YMCA (www.ymcasf.org) also has a great swim program. They offer lessons starting at six months old, and have a swim team for older and more experienced swimmers. The teacher-to-child ratios are small, and the focus for the younger ages is getting comfortable in the water and basic safety skills. The classes are 30 minutes and cost $85 per month; however, there is a considerable discount for facility members.

Sometimes with young children, having a little bit of structure or somewhere to be helps with the adjustment of staying home. These classes provide great benefits to children whether it is a life skill of learning to swim, developing a love for music, or discovering the importance of physical activity. They even help with brain development and motor skills. These activities also provide a great opportunity for stay-at-home parents or caregivers to meet other parents and have a little social interaction of their own. Most of these places offer free trial classes, so go ahead and give them a try.

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Liz Farrell is the mother of three young children. She was formerly a television producer in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. E-mail: liz@marinatimes.com

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