Tumbling Tykes: How to socialize a toddler and only child

I’ve been taking TJ to a toddler class at Tumbling Tykes for the past few weeks. He loves to play there; it’s like My Gym or Gymboree, but it’s run by one woman and a few assistants. Miss Stacey is beloved by many toddlers.

We first got introduced to Tumbling Tykes through a mommy meetup group, and we attended a session of free play. TJ had a blast in the ball pit and in the sandbox. We went a few more times before it was announced that classes would be starting for the fall. My mother-in-law said she would pay for him to attend a class as part of his birthday present, and we accepted.

The first class we attended, TJ ran around and did his own thing the entire time. Many of the kids have been going to classes for a while, so they happily listened to Miss Stacey, singing and dancing with her, and generally participating in class activities. TJ preferred to run around and play with the various beach balls, basketballs, and a big red ball that’s as big as he is. Occasionally, he asked to get in or out of the ball pit as well. The sandbox was the only thing he did with the rest of the class. At the end of the class, Miss Stacey was giving out puppy stamps to all the kids. I had TJ get one, thinking he would really like them. TJ got dropped off with my mother-in-law, since I had to go in for an endoscopy after class, and she said he was freaking out until she washed the stamp off his hand. I guess he didn’t really like it.

The second week, TJ still was obsessed with chasing the various balls around the classroom, but he did occasionally stop to watch what the other kids were doing on the mat with Miss Stacey. He thought that the water table was pretty fun, and he also enjoyed getting in the sandbox at the end. He cried when it was time to leave.

The third week, TJ joined the class on the mat briefly at the start of class to say good morning to Tyke, the stuffed dog who serves as the class mascot. He almost played at the sand table with the other kids, but thought it would be better if he could play in the sandbox, which was closed. He danced on top of the sandbox instead. He chased the big red ball around the room a lot, but he did decide to play with the pom poms when it was pom pom time. Although he thought it was more fun to sit in the big pile of unused pom poms instead of shaking them to the music. But that’s okay, because he was with the other kids! He also played in the castle playhouse with another little boy. That was a big step! He said goodbye to Tyke when we left.

This was our fourth week. TJ and I joined the class on the mat to say good morning to Tyke. Not only did TJ hug Tyke, but he followed Tyke around to say good morning to all of the other kids as well, dancing on his tiptoes and flailing his arms around excitedly. We stayed with the class for music time, but instead of hitting his cardboard brick with drum sticks, he thought it was far more fun to take all of the unusued drum sticks out of the box and try to stack them. Then he went to play in the castle with another little boy for a little while. While I was talking to another mom, I watched him go down the slide for the first time – all by himself! He’d never been interested in the slide before, but I guess he was paying attention to the other little boys who enjoyed the slide. We joined the class for pom pom time, this time shaking one or two pom poms instead of just sitting in the pile of them. He did play under the parachute with the other kids, but he didn’t want to play on top of it, so we went back to the castle. And then it was sandbox time, which he thoroughly enjoyed. I’m so excited that he wanted to participate today! No puppy stamps this week either. He ran and hid behind some of the play equipment when it was time to leave, so I had to carry him out to the car screaming.

In just four weeks, there’s been such a big difference in my little boy! The classes seemed a little expensive before we signed up, considering it’s just an hour a week. But he’s getting used to playing with other kids, and learning about how to play with a group. Hopefully, he’ll learn how to listen and follow directions when he finally joins in more of the group activities, like animal dancing. These are all things that will help him immensely when he starts preschool next year. I know it’s still a long way off, but as a child who had never played with more than one child at a time before now, this is a wonderful program for him.

We got our registration forms for the next session of classes today. I am eager to sign him up for the next three sessions, just to make sure we get into the same class each time. To see how much progress he’s made socially in just four weeks, I know that continued visits will help my little boy develop even more of the social skills he needs to have.

I highly recommend a program like Tumbling Tykes for other stay-at-home/work-at-home moms whose kids don’t get the socialization of daycare. The kids have fun and don’t even realize they’re learning through playtime. It’s an education you can’t give them by yourself.

Christina Gleason (975 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.

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