Thinking of joining a play group with your little one? Here are some of the most popular choices amongst our moms to help you choose the best one. By Nikki Temkin
Newborn and toddler classes have many benefits. These parenting and toddler groups offer dedicated bonding time with your child in a structured, yet stimulating environment. But, it’s also a chance for you to gain important parenting tools and tips, and to be around other parents with children of the same age.
“Music now. Skills for life.”
Birth to 7 years
Most kids love music and this can be a route to learning. Research shows that music changes, connects, builds and strengthens neural pathways in the brain. In young children, the effect is profound as their minds are developing rapidly and their neural pathways are easily influenced.
Kindermusik’s baby music classes offer a sensory-rich environment in which to build musical, social, emotional and language skills in your child. A trained Kindermusik educator guides the activities and can also give insight into how your child is doing musically, cognitively and socially.
Each weekly class is planned to develop social, problem-solving and pre-maths aptitudes and a foundation for reading. Babies and infants are given developmentally appropriate instruments, such as shakers, drums and tambourines to engage and develop both hemispheres of the brain.
The benefits include becoming familiar with side-by-side play with other babies, and cuddling and rocking time with you. You’ll babble, hum and dance together – all key ingredients in your baby’s early social skills development. Older babies will start to develop both gross and fine motor skills through finger play and movement activities and discover more about how their bodies work and move.
Encouraging your child to be creative and initiate his/her own ideas is integral to the toddler classes – your presence and participation offers reassurance. You’ll play and explore instruments together, sing and move to music and hear and act out simple stories and rhymes. These activities engage your child, building self-confidence, self-control and communication skills.
Kindermusik’s focus is on whole-child development and helping children gain the skills they need to be successful in both school and life. It’s about using the power of music to help children learn. You’ll leave each class with ideas for weaving music into your daily routine.
For more info, visit kindermusik.co.za.
Moms and Miracles
“Play is a crucial vehicle for exploring and learning, developing new skills, and connecting with others.”
3 months to 3 years
A natural drive to play is universal across all young mammals. Children use play to engage with and learn about their world – it has key neurological, cognitive, socio-emotional and physiological benefits for their health. Play is also the way in which children form loving, trusting relationships, new skills, explore their imaginations and learn to relate to people around them.
If you’re stuck with ideas for you and your baby or toddler, then Moms and Miracles might be the class for you. It’s geared to offering a fun, play-based bonding experience. Developed by an early childhood educationalist with other professionals, the programme includes perceptual activities, sing-a-long, music, movement, emotional development and social interaction.
Created to enhance mother/child bonding and attachment, the weekly 90-minute classes, often themed, include baby massage, intellectual/cognitive activities, fine and gross motor stimulation, as well as sensory and tactile exploration, music, messy play and art exploration. You’ll be actively involved in each session, nurturing, guiding and encouraging your child.
Small groups, led by trained facilitators, are designed to optimise each child’s potential. You’ll feel comfortable discussing any specific concerns about parenting or your little one’s development. Social contact and interaction between the mothers is also an important component of the programme. Moms and Miracles also offers many value-added services such as informative talks, first aid/CPR courses, outings, family photographic days, educational toys and more.
For more info, visit momsandmiracles.co.za.
Moms and Tots and Moms and Babes
“Children need not be told what to do, but provided with the security and encouragement needed to explore and grow at their own pace.”
Moms and Babes: 2 months to 2 years. Moms and Tots: 1 to 3 ½ years
If you’re the kind of parent who wants to allow your child to set the rhythms of their own development, then Moms and Tots might suit you best. The programme allows your child to develop naturally, while enhancing her overall sense of confidence and wellbeing.
The classes, developed by paediatric specialists and other professionals, are offered once a week for two hours at a time. They offer a balanced, all-round developmental experience, with activities designed to stimulate babies and encourage toddlers to make their own choices and develop self-motivation.
Expect plenty of environmental stimulation. Aims include helping your toddler to think logically and to possess self-control, developing concentration, enhancing perceptive skills, developing core muscles, and exposing your child to a social setting and group experience. It’s also about stimulating the senses, developing focus, hand-eye coordination and indulging in the joy of movement via music, rhymes and songs.
Moms and Babes, which is for younger children, includes the stimulation of gross and fine motor milestones, sensory development, progression of play, emotional and social development and parental education.
Small groups mean little ones can develop and learn new concepts at their own pace, in a joyful way. Themes cover the most vital skill areas, using all five senses. You’ll be actively involved in a non-intrusive, supportive way. Created to be enriching and fun, the class is about quality time with your child and the chance to guide their energy but without separating from her.For more info, visit momsandtots.co.za
“Move. Learn. Grow”
2 months to 3 years
If you want to get outside and are tired of being cooped up inside, Clamber Club is perfect for you. There’s no doubt that with TV and electronics, children are leading a more sedentary lifestyle and engaging in less physical play.
The results of this are that many are not naturally developing the necessary sensory motor and perceptual skills that are essential for learning.
Clamber Club’s extensive sensory programme aims to get kids moving and equips parents with tools to aid their children’s development. Developed by occupational therapist Liz Senior, it’s about promoting a lifelong love of exercise and joy in movement, as well as establishing and consolidating important skills required for school readiness and effective academic learning.
The weekly one-hour classes are a place to have fun with your child. Each lesson is themed and tailored to their specific age group. Using special Clamber Club music (which is very catchy!), mascot Jog the Frog and a myriad of specially designed indoor and outdoor equipment, children can gain greater awareness of how their bodies move. Plus, they can improve their coordination and balance and learn about the world they live in with you by their side.
Baby classes include sensory stimulation, calming activities and infant massage. The focus is on strengthening core muscle groups to prepare your baby for mobility.
Once crawling, babies will climb, roll and tumble as they gain body confidence and awareness. Toddlers are introduced to simple concepts and bang drums, bounce, wiggle, jiggle and jump. Older toddlers learn more sophisticated concepts and stretch themselves more physically by tumbling, rolling and climbing.
For more info, visit clamberclub.com.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.