9 answers

Gymnastics or Dance for Almost 3 Year Old?

I'm beginning to plan our fall schedule, and I'm wondering first off anyone knows of a good gymnastics or dance center for 3 year olds, in or around NE Mpls.

Secondly, is 3 too young to start these activities? What has some of your experience been? I'd like her to be in a physical activity for the fall/winter, but I'm wondering if a simple YMCA class or community ed would suffice at this age. Or should I take her to a gymnastics center?

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You should try that new activity web site activitytree.com. They show provider and class information and you can register right online.

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I don't have a school to suggest but I don't think your daughter is too young. My daughter started taking a creative movement class at a dance school (Woodbury Dance Center) last year at age 2.5 yrs. She absolutely loved it. I loved it, too, because they really did a great job of teaching the little ones to follow directions and take turns while having fun. It was very age-appropriate and absolutely non-competitive. She is going to take creative movement at St. Paul City Ballet this fall (instead of in Woodbury) because it's closer to our house. I know other people who think highly of St. Paul community ed classes. We tried a community ed gymnastics class and it didn't work out for us. The class size was very large and the class was "taught" by teenagers. There was very little organization and my daughter needs structure. She just ran wild.

I was a dance teacher at a studio in CA for years. She is on the young side. I would wait until she turns four and make sure it is a 45 minute class (not an hour) one time per week. I would start with dance, and go into gymnastics when she is older and then can choose her own style.

My daughter goes to Olympic Gymnastics in Plymouth. That might be a little far for you but we really enjoy it. She has been going since she was two years old and loves it. It is a true competitive gym, which I feel makes it worthwhile. She goes once a week and I have never regretted it.

You should try that new activity web site activitytree.com. They show provider and class information and you can register right online.

My little girl just turned 3 when I signed her up for gymnastics and she LOVED IT! It was a non-separating tumbling class in Maple Grove Park and Rec. There were even some younger kids in her class. In is very informal and focuses on just getting them active and introduce them to gymnastics. Check your local park and rec to see if they offer classes. Sign up for fall starts soon in most cities.

This might be a little far for you, but there's a place in Champlin called The Little Gym. It's off of highway 169 near the Target.

I think a lot of it depends on what your goals are for your child...

We opted to just go with YMCA options until my daughter was 7. Then, we enrolled her in Circus Juventas (they have some options for younger kids - you should definitely check them out) and in dance. Both were her choice.

But, there are definitely children around the age of 3 in gymnastics, dance, etc. classes. For us, we didn't want it to become a competitive thing or for her to feel like she needed to do well, or even improve - just move. And my experience as a child in those places was very competitive. However, it seems to have changed quite a bit since then and I find more and more places that are more family-friendly and much less centered on making little sports heroes of your child. If you look into a dance studio, I would go with a small one over a large one. The small ones (I think) do less of the hootchie stuff (less makeup, less revealing costumes, etc).

The other thing you should consider is a Music and Movement class. These are fabulous and my daughter ADORED them.

Good luck!

Both my kids have done circus juventas since age 3. That is a great very non-competitive program. My son even had disabled children in his preschool classes they made accomodations for and they do very fun things.

My daughter takes a 3-5 year old dance class at Out on A limb. Also another very non-competitive fun option. Out on a Limb is on Como near Snelling in St. Paul (very close for us or we wouldn't be doing it!). I've also heard good things about Minnesota Youth Dance Theater in Roseville from several neighbors (we might switch to this depending on how fall schedules look for both studios).

We've also been happy with young children's gymnastics through community education. Although it quickly becomes competitive once they hit elementary school.

We also did music and movement classes through MacPhail at that age which were great fun and were a good set up for music lessons now.

Good luck!

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