Briefly prepare him for the first session. Talk to him about the instructors, the equipment, the clothes he’ll wear, and any friends who’ll be in the class. Let him know about transportation arrangements and where you’ll be sitting while the class meets. And since most children wonder about the availability of bathrooms, tell him that the program has bathrooms.
On the first day of class, you’ll notice that some children quickly join in the activities, while others have difficulty adjusting. If your child is reluctant to get involved, you might feel discouraged and embarrassed, especially if the other class members are having an easy time. You might also feel alone, questioning your parenting abilities and wondering what you’ve done to make your child shy and unwilling to participate. You might also feel angry at your child, particularly if it was his idea to take the class.
In such a situation, a supportive teacher, coach, or instructor can help by smiling, waving, coming over to talk, and generally letting your child know he’s accepted even if he doesn’t choose to participate right away. You’ll also feel more comfortable if the other parents in the group are supportive rather than judgmental. While you’re encouraging your child to participate, try not to pressure him, but rather accept his hesitancy, and, if necessary, sit with him until he’s ready to join the group.
In later class sessions, he may continue to resist joining in or may become disenchanted with the program. Perhaps the instructor overwhelms him, the other children seem too big, he’s not ready to separate from you, the teachers’ (or your) expectations create too much pressure, he’s unwilling to join in because you’re watching, or the class is not what he thought it would be.
He may have had his own fantasies about the program, imagining he’d be free to jump on the trampoline, do somersaults, or improvise his own craft projects. But most programs allow little freedom, children are told what to do and how to do it, and they spend a lot of time waiting for their turns.