Gymnademics review

Today Sophia is 6 months old! Happy Birthday Sophia!

Completely unrelated to the “birthday”, I also arranged for a trial class at Gymnademics. I’ve been arranging for trial playgroups every weekend now that Sophia is old enough to participate in the youngest baby groups for most places. I figured its good to give her different types of stimulation even if I never end up signing up for any, even though the plan is to pick one or two of the best ones to attend regularly.

Last week we went to The Little Gym and I shall try to find time to pen my review of that session before I forget the details but today its about Gymnademics.

First, the equipment. They look somewhat less professional than the little gym but perhaps only because the little gym’s gym area was a separate room and the entire floor was covered with mats while gymnademics’ equipment, including lots of mats was arranged around an area with normal hard flooring, presenting a rather makeshift look. That said, when I analysed the equipment, it was actually hard to say which place had more. Before class started parents were free to arrive early and play on the mats and equipment. There were also sets of Glenn Doman “bits of intelligence” (ie picture flashcards although GD would hate to hear them termed as such) clipped on the wall which parents can help themselves to and show to their babies. For all those out there who haven’t yet heard of the GD method of giving your baby encyclopedic knowledge, essentially the flashcards show a discrete picture of a certain category eg endangered animals and the idea is to flash the cards really quickly while reading out what the picture represents.

The class started with a hello song with a Fillipino male teacher playing the guitar and singing and a chinese female teacher singing along. The Chinese teacher was not lively and her singing soft. The Filipino teacher was slightly better but still not as animated as the teacher at the little gym.

They then started with chinese lessons. The chinese teacher showed some basic opening greeting exchanges and read them out once to the group and once to each child individually. She then went on to verbs like clap etc. Next was music class and they showed the score of twinkle twinkle little star and brought out a xylophone. parents are supposed to help the babies play the song line by line following the score. I think this method goes against Glenn Doman’s idea that whatever is showed to the baby should be large, clear and unambiguous. There is too much information in the score for even one line. There is the musical notation, the alphabets representing the notes and the words of the song. Even if I am convinced of GD’s ideas, I am not convinced this is in line with the general concept.

It was then gym time and we were showed how to allow babies to hang on a bar, spotting them. Sophia cried the moment she was put behind the bar so she didn’t get to try. We were taught to pull her to sitting position then to standing position by holding just her hands. Not too different to the baby situps the little gym did except this included standing up. Then there were a series of exercises which I’m not sure did much for baby but are good exercises for mum. First I laid on the mat and lifted her above me. (at this point Sophia decided to dribble a lot and it all fell onto me – blah). We then swayed her side to side. Then we log rolled her on the mat, after which we held her facing downwards and took steps side to side, front and back and in circles and in arcs like viking. Sophia was quite neutral to all these but when I did it with her later in the day when we were waiting for her dad at expo, she enjoyed it and laughed out loud. Around this time Sophia started getting quite cranky as it was long past her bedtime. Anyway we tried to put her on an exercise ball and roll her front and back, side to side and round and round. She cried throughout despite daddy’s best efforts to entertain her. Then it was crawling exercise and she refused to push forward when we pressed against her legs. Even the 5 month old was happily pushing forward.

After a short water break, it was time for english lesson. More flashcards of action words like bathing, sneezing etc, bits of intelligence (butterflies and endangered animals sets) and a song. The teacher flashed the lyrics as the song was played but some stanzas were repeated so the teacher was confused the first few times then even when he figured it out, he just had to put down the cards the second time a stanza was repeated which I would think would make the babies lose interest in looking at the cards. Also, showing different sets of cards one after another seems to go against the GD idea to show a small number of cards then stop for half an hour at least to keep the babies wanting for more. It seems that most babies were restless after max one set. Sophia was quite attentive with the cards even though she was cranky at the gym session so I guess she likes to look at cards but still I’m not sure I am willing to pay someone to show her flashcards.

The trial class was $44 and proper lessons are $688 for 10 plus 1 lessons, once a week. $63 for one hour’s worth of being shown flashcards that I can make on my own and doing exercises I can easily do myself just by buying GD’s book? I don’t think so. Moreover, the chinese teacher’s chinese isn’t fantastic, she often has to catch herself with wrong pronunciation and the Filipino teacher’s grammar isn’t too hot, he doesn’t even realise he was using the wrong prepositions etc. Overall ok but not impressed and actually I just don’t buy into this whole flashcard culture. I am doing it a little at home just in case it really works and I am short-changing Sophia if I don’t but its not what I want out of these playgroups. I want her to learn social interaction, to have fun and to do more physical activities at playgroups, not sit down and look at flashcards.

Anyway its timely that at coffee with Denise later today she told me she was appalled when the principal of the infant care centre showed her a video of a baby being showed words and pointing at various bodyparts corresponding to the words or indicating comprehension of the word. When her husband stepped out of the infantcare he said no f-ing way are we sending baby here. Also apparently flashcard trained babies later go on to understand words in say a story but not able to imagine the story because they were spoonfed all these info too early and lost the ability to explore and imagine independently. Hmm.. so many different schools of thoughts. So hard to ensure that I’m doing the right thing for Sophia..

Completely irrelevant to the review but I just can’t help saying, I really love my baby, she’s such a good girl. Last night she didn’t sleep well and cried a few times but I just had to say “Sophia, go to sleep” and she will stop making noise and go to sleep. A moment ago, my typing woke her up and I just went over and hugged her and she went back to sleep. Such a lovely darling.

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