Low- and No-Cost Lessons for Toddlers

recession guide

recession guide

Photo by LilStar9905

We've been cutting back to try and keep our kids' swimming lessons up. It's hard. They're expensive for us.

But my DH and I feel these classes are important and worth us making other sacrifices to pay for them, not only because our kids enjoy it but for safety reasons -- especially after I read that toddlers who take swimming lessons are less likely to drown than those who don't. For the longest time, people didn't know if lessons made a toddler more brazen in the water and more likely to drown, or just the opposite, using the skills they learned in class to stay afloat longer. The latter is actually true.

Of course, my daughter would also love to take ballet, and my son has been asking about sports, but there's only room in the budget for one activity. So I've been talking to other moms about how they afford sports and classes for kids in tough times, and I've compiled some of their helpful suggestions below.

Low-Cost Options

Look into programs offered through the town or county "I have found those programs are cheaper," says mamaoftwins9197. "I put my twins through their first swimming lessons at 11 months. It was $55 each for an 8-session class. I thought it was well worth the price and we had a lot of fun."

Check out community centers "They tend to offer classes at very reasonable rates," says samanthajo9484. "A 7-session course for gymnastics is only $17 in my community  A 6-session swim class is only $15 and a 10-session ballet and tap class is only $26."

Consider going out of area "I found a private gymnastics place that does classes for $25 a month with no annual fee. MUCH cheaper than the other ones I checked. It is 40 miles away, but we carpool with another family to save on gas."

Call your local YMCA Several moms told me the local Y is great for low-cost activities. Every Y is independently run, so the prices and programs vary.

No-Cost Options

Ask the Y about free scholarships Some children whose parents meet certain income levels may be able to take classes for free -- check your local Y for these programs. But there are also other ways to attend for free:

"When my oldest was a toddler we went through our YMCA for sports," says momof2luvsshoes. "If you are a member, it is a cheaper rate than a non-member.  Also, ask about the perks of coaching. At our Y if you choose to coach or assistant coach, you get a fee credit. I just paid the fee for the class, and after coaching T ball, they credited my account for the full amount. Right now I have a $56 credit to use for my 3 year old."

Visit the library JeffersonMom reminds us they offer more than just story time. "Ours has craft activities and even special presentations, like the Bubble Man." Those slots fill fast, though, so make sure you sign your tyke up early.

Organize a rotating "camp" Here's a great idea for summer: "I get together with other local stay-at-home moms and take turns hosting different activities," says iLuvMyJayden. "One mom in my group has a huge backyard and another has a little outdoor pool -- so she will bring her pool to the other mom's house and the kids can splash and play. I will host a day where I plan a variety of outdoor activities for our kids. It's not the same as going to camp, but it's cheaper and it gets moms and kids playing together."

++Do you feel it's important for your toddler to be involved in sports and activities, or is this not a priority right now? How are you paying for all those expensive lessons?

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JPsMo... JPsMommy605

Depends on the child.  My son is very active and loves sports, so for him, Soccer is a great fit along with the sports stuff we play together at home.  Luckily, our soccer classes are pro-rated so I only pay for the classes he attends, and since his schedule for his dad's is consistent, it's essentially half-price for me, which makes it affordable.  But they do have scholarships as well supported by the local community.

Natha... NathansmomEmmie

this is not a priority for me at all.  I dont think that it is necessary for toddlers. 

momne... momneedscoffee

Our oldest son used to play baseball & did Scouts.  Between baseball, his Scouts, and our daughters Scouts...it was too much time away from home for too many evenings each week. 

So, Husband and I decided, the children are only able to do Scouts.  Our kindergartner will be able to join up next year.  And it will be a few years for our 3 year old.  But, this was our policy BEFORE any talk of a recession.

In Scouts, you can do fundraisers to help pay for your fees, trips, uniforms, camp outs, badges, pins, etc.

I don't feel, my own opinion for my own kids, that toddlers need extra curricular activities anyway.  Being at home, doing things with mom, dad, and siblings are the best activities for toddlers to be active, interact with others, and to learn.

LadyS... LadySaphira

I no longer have a toddler at home, my youngest is now 11, but with his disabilities it is often like still living with one. Because of his disabilities and our low income we are eligable for a free family membership to the Y. I think it will be a great way to not only teach him water safety but it will be a good oportunity for some fu family time togetherness.

Kam06 Kam06

I signed my daughter up last summer for swimming lessons at our local community pool. It's 2 weeks 4 days for $25. I plan on signing her up again this summer  for 4 weeks, since she had a ball the last time and we have a pool in the back yard. God forbid she falls in when no one is around, I want to know she can stay afloat or swim to the side!

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