What to expect from the Baby Group
The programme is divided into three activity periods.
SENSORY STIMULATION PERIOD
This first section comprises of:
- equipment time – e.g. puzzles
- creative play – e.g. finger painting
- gym time
- and tactile experiences
This section of the programme is intended to provide sensory stimulation, particularly tactile (touch) and kinetic (movement), as this lays the basis for further cognitive and co-ordination skills to introduce them to a variety of new and appropriate experiences. We recommend that the mothers work individually with their babies during this time and focus on encouraging the child’s experimentation with the activity being presented.
The toy time is not a test of the baby’s intelligence or skills, but rather allows for a freedom of natural curiosity rather than organised play procedures.
The golden rule for mothers is to give their babies as little assistance as possible – only enough to catch their attention or hold their attention a little longer. A quiet demonstration from the mother is far more effective than trying to overwhelm the baby through too much verbal communication. An activity should lend itself to being discovered by the child himself, rather than being told by his mother.
The gross motor movement activities need to be handled with patience as the babies are not always that keen to experiment or to participate first time round. Encourage their participation and be satisfied with small advances at a time. Your encouragement and enthusiasm will soon assist your baby’s participation and release maximum enjoyment. The group environment is also very helpful as the babies love to copy one another.
The focus must always remain on the babies so that their attention span can be built up. Give your babies the opportunity to progress to the next stage of their own accord.
Don’t rush your baby; enjoy him just as he is; and let him play if he wishes in his chosen way. There is much for them to absorb by merely looking at the environment. Babies develop at different rates. The main task of mothers during the first half an hour of group activities is to slow down and adopt the pace of their babies – a rare skill in today’s rushed world.
This time of focused attention is an excellent way of expressing unconditional love. Encourage your baby’s participation through your attitudes and actions. Show enthusiasm even when the activities may seem uninteresting to you. Your baby loves repetition even though it may seem arduous to you. The baby finds his world of immense interest and enjoys experiencing it, exploring it and experimenting with it. Their curiosity seems insatiable.
Please remember the difference between lavish and descriptive praise, the latter being more appropriate. If you have been clapping and cheering over what your baby has done, now is the time to wean him/her off that type of praise. By becoming a more silent observer of what your baby is doing, you will allow the little one to experience his/her own inner feeling of delight which accompanies achievements.
Watch your little one’s facial expressions and try to tune in to what he/she is feeling while being involved in an activity. You can only do this as you focus on your baby who is learning from you to exclude distractions and forget about others around you. This quiet focused attention is the most accepting climate that we can create for our children to work in.
When baby wanders across to where another is using a toy and joins in, lead him/her away gently, because the chances are that the peace will soon be disturbed. Their time to socialize will also come later.
Music time is enjoyed by all. The songs are especially chosen to:
- enhance tactile input from mom
- help develop a good sense of rhythm
- sharpen his/her interest in sound
- stimulate language development
- learn through “doing”
If you begin to feel uncomfortable during music time, when babies and toddlers sometimes become restless, please recognize that your child is not “badly behaved” or “naughty”. Their concentration span and interest may vary considerably from week to week which means that they may have a need on certain days to rather be outside where they can move about without restriction. Here again, patience and an unpressurised attitude will enhance the value and enjoyment of the music time for you and your baby. Some toddlers need to “grow” into music activities. Feel free to take your child outside for a while and join the music group after a few minutes of exercise outside.
As the babies become familiar with the songs and begin to recognise them, their enjoyment level increases. Be prepared to persevere for a while so that music time becomes an enriching experience.
Children play freely and mix with other children. They enjoy sand and water play, climbing on outside apparatus, swinging, pushing and pulling toys etc.
Lastly, make maximum use of the opportunity to make friends and to enjoy the socialization experience at Toddlers’ Workshop. I hope to see you in a Toddler group when your baby is ready to move on.