I have been meaning to do an update on Scout’s classes at Gymnademics but haven’t really had the time to do so recently. We’ve been attending the Pre-fellow sessions with them since last November, and I’ve really loved seeing how she has enjoyed the sessions and learnt so much from them. Even though I’m a third time mum, there is still much to learn!
Here’s a little summary of some of the activities each class consists of. I wish I had more pictures, but it’s so difficult to take any when your mini-me is stuck to your leg 95% of the time in class. In class she is super shy, but she does really enjoy it because she’s always so enthusiastic to go, and at home she is able to do the actions that she learnt in class.
I have to say, that the first few sessions were quite a work out for both of us! The class moves quite quickly, and the fast pace might make the class seem a little haphazard, but at this age their attention spans aren’t long either, and we slowly got used to it and the routine, and now we both enjoy the sessions.
I like the philosophy behind the classes – many of the physical activities are created or emphasized because specific movements are linked to different parts of the developing brain. For example, encouraging the child to climb to improve dexterity and cross-coordination (meaning each hand and leg is doing a different thing from each other); the trapeze and hanging from bars in general is good for expanding the lungs, as well as strengthening the shoulders and arms to aid in writing ability; practicing sitting on the floor and hugging the knees while rocking back and forth is good for strengthening stomach muscles which in turn aid in strength for writing (side note: writing is a so important and complex that there are so many muscles linked to it!); etc.
In the class they also use many very catchy songs, which Scout and I have grown to love, and so have the boys! One of my favourite discoveries has been the songs that they use for the mathematics section, and Mittens has probably benefitted the most, memorizing some of the songs or learning some new calculation tricks (e.g. to add 5 and 9, think 5 + 10 then minus 1 = 14). During the maths segment they also use the opportunity to flash some number dots. I’m not a fan of flashcards or number dots, and I’m skeptical of the theory behind number dots that children have an innate ability to figure out the number of dots just by looking at them, but I don’t mind my kids being exposed to them.
Having said that though, I used to be a lot more adverse to flashcards than I am now, because at Gymnademics they don’t flash them at lightning super human speed, so in a sense, it’s kind of having a large book that is just cut out into flash cards? Also, it’s good to have toddlers see the words as they hear them, to create more print awareness. Scout, also from the influence of her brothers, has been very interested in learning the alphabet, but I think the Gymnademics flash cards also help.
I am no expert, and prior to Gymnademics my only (flash cards- based) experience was at Happy Train, where they do flash the cards pretty fast. Apart from the speedy flash cards, I quite liked the programme there – they have plenty of memory, motor skills and other activities, but the sessions run in three languages, English, Japanese and Chinese (so each week is a different language), and it is very seat-work based, which is difficult for many children, especially boys! Every lesson was a task for me to get Abacus to stay in his seat! And when it came to the Japanese language class, well I liked it because I took basic Japanese so it was a nice revision for me, but try getting a restless tot to sit still in a class, in a foreign language…..I feel a tired from just thinking about those days!! So I’m really happy that Gymnademics have a more holistic approach, where there is really seldom a dull moment.
I also like that some of the teachers are very observant and would suggest specific activities for your child each week, for example, practicing jumping, or hand movements and actions, etc. They are very knowledgeable and are genuinely happy to see the children progressing in the classes as time goes by. They are also very open to suggestions and feedback, and after I noticed that we were reading some nomenclature cards from right to left, I suggested that they would want to consider changing it from left to right, because that’s the way we read, and it’s a good skill to reinforce because not all people do this well, and some adults even require a ruler to read effectively – just something I learnt from Thinkersbox!
After each class, sometimes at the end of the week, they will email a “Parent Child Bonding Package”. It includes home-based activities, the flashcards used during the session, and even the Chinese nomenclature of the key words although they aren’t mentioned in the class. I think that the materials are even good for older kids, and I try to show them to all the kids. Heck, I think even I learn something new every week!
I would also like you to know, that after a trial with Gymnademics that I paid for myself, I was the one who approached them to see if they would be interested to collaborate on something for the blog. Although they did sponsor some classes for me, I am paying for the majority of the classes myself.
If I had to recommend only ONE class for toddlers, this would be it. It’s a good all rounder with exposure to literacy, numeracy, music, and of course, lots of physical activity.
Gymnademics are sponsoring THREE free trial classes worth $58 to my lovely readers, so if you are keen to win yourself a trial class, please do enter the rafflecopter here! The contest will run until 28 September 2014! Good luck!!