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Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

Choosing Figure Skating as a Sport

The days of tot classes are now far behind you, and your kid wants nothing more than to be on the ice. Go figure! Figure Skating is often an underrated sport in my opinion because many people just don’t understand the dedication that is put into it and how fiercely competitive (and selective) it truly is. For most, figure skating is associated with winter as a fun cold day activity or an entertaining Olympic sport, but not many actually pursue it as their sport of choice or competitively. If your child couldn’t get enough of their beginner classes, it is time to get them skating more consistently. Here are a few ways to get your ice princess or prince where they want to be.Dollarphotoclub_59678328.jpg

Private Lessons

Private lessons will vary in price depending on the instructor that you choose. If your child liked the summer camp that they went to, start with either that coach or at least at that rink to find someone they have synergy with. Since figure skating is mostly an individual sport, it’s especially important to find a coach that your child trusts and one that understands your child’s intentions within the sport. They will be spending a lot of time together and hopefully moving up the levels, and you don’t want a coach that is going to put too much pressure on them. Like I mentioned before, figure skating is a very competitive sport, and it’s important to be supportive but not pushy. I have seen way too many good skaters leave the sport because the pressure was too great. Beyond that, setting up a consistent training program with the coach you choose will help your child get better and better. Once your child has a training schedule in place, it will be time to start testing up the levels and most importantly, competing! Even if you can’t afford for your child to compete in every competition in the area, have them do one or two to just get the experience. Aside from just training on the ice, figure skaters are often required to supplement with off-training classes such as ballet, yoga, and Pilates, in addition to weight training, to make sure they are receiving a well-rounded training program.

What They Need

Like previously mentioned, skating in not an inexpensive sport. So if you are worried about costs, start with the basics at first until your child in well associated with everything. If they are in a consistent program, even a consistent camp program, you are probably going to want to buy them their own pair of skates so that they fit correctly. A good pair of skates will make all the difference. If you kid is going the competitive route and quickly advancing in the sport, it is time to look into custom skates. Ask your child’s coach if they are ready for this before making any purchases because they are very expensive and if your child is still growing, they will quickly grow out of their skates and will need to be replaced.  So you will want to make sure that is the correct move to make. Aside from skates, make sure they have a few pairs of tights. I always liked wearing two pairs of tights, one pair that was close toe and then a second pair that covered my boots, if I was wearing a skating dress. Double layering keeps you warmer and will protect your skates while training. Wearing a pair of closed toe tights with yoga pants or leggings is another popular option and more common these days. Just have your child pair them with a fitted fleece or shirt, and they will be good to go. It is just important not to wear anything too bulky while training since the movements require fluidity and precision. If they can’t move, they can’t be accurate. Then just add a pair of gloves, and they are good to go!

Figure skating often feels like an exclusive club since so few people actually pursue it seriously as a sport, so if your child is interested in giving it a shot, go for it! It may be expensive, but since it is so selective, if you child is good enough and sticks with it, it can be very fulfilling. It could even get them into an amazing college! If anything though, I have no doubt that your kid will have an amazing time escaping the heat of summer while in camp and come out with some great stories they can share the rest of their life.

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After-School Activities Super Activities for Super Kids Uncategorized

Finding the Perfect Activities for a 5-Year-Old

Is your little one restless? One mom shares her tips for finding affordable, practical activities for a 5-year-old.

by Kristine Munroe

child with sandy hands

Find Classes, Workshops & Camps for 5-Year-Olds Near You >>

5-Year-Olds Have Opinions

I’m not a homebody. As soon as I could find activities for my son, Isaac, I signed us up. It started off as new mom/new baby groups before Isaac could even sit up. Then we graduated to mommy and me playgroups. And after he grew more active, we both loved Gymboree. Living in New England, I particularly grew desperate for classes where he could get some exercise during the winter months. So, I would just pick whatever suited our schedule and sounded fun to me. Easy enough!

But sometime after Isaac turned 2, he started getting opinionated. I signed him up for Soccer Tots through our local community education department. At the time, I thought the idea of 2-year-olds playing soccer sounded adorable. And, yes, it was adorable, but getting my stubborn little Isaac to participate was a challenge week after week. His favorite part was the snack break midway through the class. It wound up being really exhausting just trying to convince him to kick the ball into the goal.

toddlers playing soccer

After that, I realized that as Isaac left the baby/toddler stage, he was starting to develop his own interests. It was time to find activities that my soon-to-be 5-year-old would be enthusiastic about. I couldn’t necessarily just pick whatever I thought sounded cool anymore. Activities are supposed to be enriching, but above all, they should be fun — especially at the preschool age. The last thing I wanted was to drag him to weekly classes that he didn’t like. It would just be a waste of time, money, and the stress would suck the fun right out for both of us.

Trial Classes

Soon I discovered that many activities will allow you to do a trial class to see what it’s like. That was how we got hooked on Music Together classes when he was 3. Those classes were lots of fun. We’ve tried various trial classes here and there to see what would work. If we find something that Isaac loves, we usually will enroll for a few sessions.

Advice From Friends

We love to get advice from our friends, too.  Word of mouth is an awesome way to find out which classes are fun.  Ask around!

Looking for Deals

Price is also a big factor. Like many families these days, we’re on a budget. Activities can get expensive, but there are still plenty of options for reasonably priced activities or great discounts. I love to scour Groupon to see what deals I can find. I’ve seen Groupon deals for Gymboree classes, music classes, sports, ice skating lessons, ski lessons, and more. I’ve definitely taken advantage of these discounts. Often there are great sale prices, sibling discounts, and multiple session discounts on ActivityHero, too.

Community Rec Centers

Community recreation departments are other inexpensive places to find fun activities. From art to sports, they’re usually easy on the pocket book.  This past fall, we participated in a super fun farming class through a neighboring city’s community education department. The kids got to plant and harvest all sorts of herbs and hardy plants.

swimming-lessons-for-5-year-olds

Mommy’s Priorities

I like to keep practicality in mind as well. It was important to me that Isaac takes swimming lessons because of safety issues. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with him going off to summer camp or even playing alongside the Charles River without him knowing how to swim. And since we live in New England, I’d like him to learn a winter sport — ice skating, snowboarding, skiing, or something — because it seems like everyone here knows how to do a winter sport except for me.

Look For Activities With Added Value

I try to look for activities with certain perks beyond the specific classes. Places like Gymboree and My Gym also offer open play times, which is an absolute lifesaver in a Boston winter. The open play times give you and your kid an opportunity for unstructured play in a safe, indoor environment, and it’s covered by the cost of your monthly membership.

We also joined our local YMCA. I use it as a gym, plus it deeply discounts activities. So far we’ve done t-ball and swimming there. Many YMCAs are not just for sports; you can find lots of classes ranging from arts to music to cooking. Our family membership is worth its weight in gold.  You can also use it for discounted prices on after school programs, summer camps, and camps for school vacation weeks.

As for Isaac? Right now we’re about to head out the door for his final swim class of the year at our local YMCA. These swim lessons have been one of his favorite activities and he can’t wait to start up again next year.

Find Classes, Workshops & Camps for 5-Year-Olds Near You >>

Swim Lessons Around the U.S.

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After-School Activities

6 Reasons To Pick this Winter Activity This Summer

Swimming, softball clinics and church camps – you can likely rattle off the lists of summer activity options in your sleep by now. However, there may be one “cool” sport you may have missed while packing your calendars full this summer – ice skating!

Sure, it may take you a moment to shift your focus from sipping ice water poolside to watching your child learn a new skill rink side, but as you weigh the benefits, chances are your family may become winter sports enthusiasts – even while the weather is hot.

children ice skating

1.     Beat the Heat

Unless you live in an uncommon destination where snow’s the norm, chances are your summer plans are often driven by your desire to stay cool during a standard heat wave. Reduce your spending on A/C units and family-sized popsicle packages, and instead head to the local ice skating rink for the chance to chill out while your child enjoys learning a new skill. Many skating rink day camps around the country offer your family the chance to not only learn how to ice skate, but also participate in arts & crafts, movies and games – all with an abundance of air conditioning for mom and dad.

Find ice skating camps and classes near you! >>

2.     Enjoy a Discount

Most camps will offer some sort of discount, either via promotional code or multiple registrations. However, winter sports offer an additional incentive – many of them are more affordable than their summer counterparts during this time of year for the sole reason that they are often an afterthought for many families. Elite figure skating lessons and ice hockey gear can get pricey, and summer is a great time to take advantage of discounted public sessions or kid-focused day camps that can save you a bundle.

 3.       It’s Unique

Especially with slightly older children, the idea of doing something out-of-the-box may make the annual mundane activity selection process a bit more exciting. And you don’t even have to sell them on the idea of participating in a winter sport all summer long. Groups that make summer camp their business maintain a more traditional fusion of academics and camp events, while making each Friday a field trip day. Included with many? Ice skating.

4.     Support Local Business

Yes, we know it’s nice to take that big sigh of relief when your kids are on their own for a bit under the watchful eye of an adult that isn’t you. While we all need alone time, even with a full camp schedule the cabin fever crazies can set in during even two days in a row at home. Get out and support local businesses by taking them to your neighborhood rink to participate in a public skating session or to cheer on a friend on the ice hockey league. Or, if you live where it snows, find out what those local resorts are offering now that it’s all melted away. They may have some great summer options like whitewater rafting or mountain biking that don’t get a lot of publicity because their snowy reputation precedes them.

5.     Get More Mileage Out of That Wardrobe

Remember that hot pink sweater she NEEDED to own, only it was stubbornly never on sale? Or, even better, did you purchase a warm weather clothing item for your child only to experience the weather shifting dramatically only a week or so later? Seasonal shopping can be tricky, and winter sport participation during the summer months ensures you get the most mileage out of those items that would otherwise hang out in the back of the closet. So pull out those sweaters and long pants for a hockey camp or ice skating party.

6.     Get What You Pay For!

Finally, summer camps are great fun, but many times the schedules change because of the weather. Yes, it’s warm outside – but in most regions of the U.S. summer still involves at least a bit of rain and windy days. This means a swimming day may get canceled, as can any outdoor event. Since the majority of summer camps plan their thrills in the great open air, the very thing that motivated you to sign up for that specific destination may not materialize. With winter sports and activities, Mother Earth doesn’t get much of a say in what kids can or cannot do. Controlled temperatures and routine schedules reign supreme when it comes to indoor, winter-themed fun.

Author: Tamara Warta