Five January 2011 mummies headed down to UE square for a trial at JWT kids gym. I had high expectations because the website seemed to be quite professionally done and gave a feel that they are people who know what kids need at this age – lots of opportunity to have fun and play. Alas, this was not the case.
The class started with free play time while waiting for the children who are late. The photo below shows all the toys that are provided. Yes, just some miserable rattles, nothing like the colourful collection that is always strewn around Julia Gabriel’s class (perhaps I’m spoilt by the good work the JG people are doing).
There also seems to be little regard for hygiene/health. The babies are given a disinfectant hand rub before entering but they’re not required to wear socks and neither are parents. Babies and parents are also not checked for hand foot and mouth disease or fever. At JG, teachers will tell us to keep toys that the children have mouthed aside so they can be washed. Here no one seems to care about children mouthing the toys. I shudder to think how many babies saliva Sophia is holding. Good thing she doesn’t put things into her mouth much. After free play was a short music session lead by a teacher who spoke with a distinct accent. I’m hearing things like “clup” (clap), “dis-truck-ted” (distracted) and “couver” (cover) which caused me (and from discussions later, the other mummies too) to write off the gym as a place to consider going regularly. The songs were also difficult to follow because they were recorded pieces where the singing was not clear and distinct. No wonder research shows that babies recognise human voices and prefer it from a young age. The singing with live accompaniment at Julia Gabriel just felt so much more lively.
Then some stations were set up for the kids to play, basically a mini slide, a parachute and a horizontal laddar that they can hold on to as cruising aid. Sophia didn’t much enjoy any of them and I had to bring her to some of the other items round the sides like an upward slope for her to crawl on. I brought her over to the cruising station when it was empty and placed her standing on one end while I encouraged her to come over to me on the other. The Philippino teacher had to come over at this point to spoil everything. First of all, she positioned herself opposite Sophia ie perpendicular to the direction she was supposed to be walking, completely distracting her from the walking. Then instead of allowing Sophia to cruise on her own which she is perfectly capable of, she proceeded to move Sophia’s hands step by step along the ladder, as if she was eager for Sophia to just get the station over and done with.
Next, they brought out some rocking horses, 2 of which were makeshift C shaped foam blocks that babies would not be able to balance on and hence unused, leaving 2 babies without anything to do for a while. baby swings were then set up. That’s probably parents and babies’ favourite part of the session but Sophia was quite neutral to being swung to and fro.
To round off the session they brought out a ball pit, which is usually the favourite of kids but as you can see, its really way too small.
When 4 were inside it was ok but the moment the fifth baby was added in, the babies started getting claustrophobic and wanting to get out one by one.