Baby and toddler activities essential for brain development
Baby and toddler activities are essential for brain development.
When I left England back in 2004 with a baby and toddler in my arms I had already had the privilige of attending wonderful baby classes like Gymboree, Monkey music, Tumble Tots , soft play and jungle gyms and a range of NCT and Mum and Baby groups. I arrived in France ready to carry on their learning journey and socialisation only to realise with a start, there was literally nothing here. There were no playcentres and soft play, no activity clubs.
There were a few international mum and baby groups but nothing near our town except for the PMI group which seemed more targetted to young pregnancies and birth groups.
It takes a village to raise a child and with my husband at work I realised I needed to do something. I drove a little way to the Vence babygroup (now closed) and met some wonderful people and we did singing and some art but it was really a mum chat .. nothing like the activities we had had on our doorsteps in the UK.
As I set KidooLand up I vowed to ensure that we offered programmes so that those relocating to France (and used like me to activities) and also those living here could benefit from.
Since 2007 we have researched, learnt and grown and now we have a real pathway for babies to school age children to follow.
Today we have The Baby Centre ... 330m2 of child friendly space near Sophia Antipolis . We host a range of activities from babies to preschoolers .. music, art, cooking, storytime, toddler gym and playgroup. Inspired by what you find in the UK and USA.
We try to ensure there is time for parents and carers to connect and also activities that work on all the areas of the brain that the Early Years Foundation Skills provides.
We keep the classes as cost effective as possible so that they pay for the salary, rent and charges that the class costs to put on as we believe that there is really not enough for this age group in the Alpes Maritimes.
Since 2007 of course things have changed on the Côte d'Azur .. there are soft plays like royal Kids and Circus Party and many baby workshops come and go.
I think that is the issue though that they do come and go.
It's very difficult to cover the costs as budgets for new parents are tight, but business costs in 06 are expensive.
We survived quite simply because we run a range of activities like Wednesdays and Saturday morning English clubs for school age children and of course we work exceptionally hard in the school holidays. This is how we pay the bills and have been able to keep offering the Baby Centre activities to you all for the last 17 years.
We do need your help though to keep spreading the word and letting the new generations know about us . A sort of pay it forward if you like.
Our classes start from 4 months once baby is vaccinated. These are great for mums to get out and meet other mums and get some support (create that village) . Many essential developmental things are happening and being in the right environment is key.
When baby gets active they can move to Toddlers and Little Explorers .. mooving and grooving and getting their little ears in tune with all the communication phonemes. This is also social and emotional key stages .. mixing with other babies.
Preschoolers can start Montessori style activities in the Playgroup. the perfect playground for getting ready for school .
Here's the science ....
Rapid Brain Development in Early Years: The brain grows most rapidly between birth and age 3, forming more than one million new neural connections every second. This period is crucial for developing language, motor skills, and early literacy. Highlighting this can emphasize the importance of a stimulating and nurturing environment provided by programs like KidooLand's Little Explorers.
Building a Strong Foundation: Early experiences are fundamental in establishing either a sturdy or fragile foundation for all future learning, health, and behavior. Engaging activities and a nurturing environment, as offered in EYFS programs, can significantly influence the quality of brain architecture in these formative years. Moreover, the absence of such positive experiences can lead to disparities in learning and behavior. Source: Harvard's Center on the Developing Child
Benefits of EYFS Framework: The EYFS framework ensures that children learn in a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment that respects their unique needs. It focuses on key development areas like communication and language, emotional and personal development, and physical development. KidooLand’s programs all align with these principles, to provide a comprehensive and tailored learning experience for each child. Source: The Apple Tree Read about the EYFS at KidooLand
My children have now grown and flown the nest. I truly believe that the academic excellence given to them in the French system was rounded, complimented and softened by their time in KidooLand over the years.
We were able to give them an Anglo focused, entrepreneurial growth mindset in our English clubs while they learnt the rigour and how to deal with pressure from the French system!
MUM GUILT - A LITTLE CAVEAT
I strongly believe that in the whirlwind of parenting advice, it's crucial not to add to the weight of 'mum guilt'.
There's a myriad of things we're told to do, and often, it feels like children are shuttled from one activity to another without pause.
My own mum used to say, 'Children need time to swing on the gatepost,' and I've always held that thought close.
We're fortunate to have had a garden with trees, a space where the kids can simply be.
Many a time, I've watched them swinging or lying on the grass, gazing at the clouds.
The key, I've found, is in striking a balance. It's about creating/attending focused, meaningful activities, coupled with those 'swing on the gate.
Do trust your instinct here and don't get pulled along with the tide. We are here if you need .. but not if it means you get into overwhelm!