Louise Emma Clarke tries Toddler Sense, a new class to follow the award-winning Baby Sensory programme.
If you have a little person running around your apartment or villa, a weekly class can be the solution to keeping them busy in an educational, stimulating, and enjoyable way. A new one to try is Toddler Sense, which has just arrived in Dubai as follow-on to award-winning British programme Baby Sensory. Suitable for kids aged between 13 months and three, the classes are designed to help toddlers learn through play, music, and
I attended Baby Sensory classes with my son from the age of six months and we loved every second. He tried to catch the bubbles, danced to the familiar songs, and followed the lights around the room with a wide smile on his face. He became more and more independent as we neared his first birthday (crawling at speed and refusing to sit on my lap for activities) and I felt very sad that our time on the course was coming to an end.
When course leader Oana informed us that she was starting Toddler Sense, I was delighted and couldn’t wait to join in. My son was just 13 months on our first day – and arriving at the Dubai Marina space to discover a huge play area with pirate theme, I thought he was going to burst with excitement. Treasure chests and inflatable swords were scattered around a large ball pit, climbing blocks and structures, and a playhouse filled with air like a bouncy castle.
The classes are split into two different age groups. We joined New Explorers class (for 13 to 18 month olds) and I quickly realised that my son was amongst the youngest. He was the only child still crawling and I started to worry that our attendance was a little premature. As I watched him speeding around on his hands and knees, trying to empty the entire ball pit into a treasure chest one by one and shrieking with excitement, I hoped that his energy and enthusiasm would make up for what he was lacking in fancy footwork.
After 20 minutes in the play area, we were called over to a square of soft mats to start the songs and activities. The adults sat around in a large circle with some of the toddlers sitting quietly on laps, whilst others toddled in the middle and a few made their escape back to the play area (no prizes for guessing that mine was amongst them). Noticing the worry on my face as I chased him, Oana reassured me that it would take a few weeks for him to understand the structure of the class and I should allow him to do his own thing.
This section of the class starts with the same song every week, with the toddlers handed two wooden sticks to sing ‘How do you do?’ whilst banging along to the rhythm. He loved bashing the sticks together at first, but then shoved them straight into his mouth for a chew (still part-baby, part-toddler, it seemed) – but his enjoyment of the song was a promising start.
He wasn’t always so focused – and despite Oana’s reassurance, I did find it stressful when he escaped the circle to return to the play area. Other adults tried to help me by blocking his path, but he was determined enough to dive through the smallest gaps. That was until Oana created an underwater world for the children as a grand finale, with a ball pit containing large bubble-like balls, inflatable fish and octopus, and a large sheet to hold over their heads with seaweed-like tassels hanging above them. My son was captivated and I sighed with relief.
We attended the remaining four classes in the term and I saw improvement in my son’s concentration every week. We both loved the way that each class was themed, with a completely new play area to explore and enjoy. We zoomed into space, we travelled deep into the jungle, and we chased colourful dragons. I noticed his face light up when the familiar tones of the songs started up and realised he was responding well to the structure of the class.
I do wonder whether we should have started a few months later when he was toddling and able to focus more readily, but the other little ones in the class were able to concentrate from the beginning, so it seems you should judge this on your own kids development.
Did I mention that the class is physically exhausting too? One big benefit was a long afternoon nap guaranteed after each class – and it was much needed on my behalf too, as after all that dancing and chasing, I was good for nothing but the sofa and a good cup of tea…
For more information visit www.babysensory.com/ae, email@example.com (055 112 6895).