My two-year old Baby CAT is now in the “terrible twos”, a stage in where toddlers struggle between their natural tendencies to cling to their parents and to demand for independence.
They begin to undergo major motor, intellectual, social and emotional changes in addition to increasing their vocabulary. At times they want to do things on their own but are unable to. Due to lack of language skills to express their feelings, they become frustrated and throw tantrums. This happens between age two to four.
Thanks to the many literature on parenting that I have read, I am quite prepared to face the challenge.
I began nurturing my child at home practically from day one - speaking to her in proper English, showing picture cards, playing educational toys and telling her children’s stories. She absorbed everything like a sponge.
Soon she learned to walk and had so much energy that I had to find more creative outlets for her.
Home nurturing has limitations - lack of resources, experience and discipline. So I needed a centre that has a holistic child enrichment programme and has trained teachers to run it systematically.
I enrolled her in the PlayNest programme at the Julia Gabriel Centre where teachers and parents play and learn with their toddlers.
She learned spoken words through stories and songs, developed social skills through interactions with teachers and other children, exercised gross motor coordination through play activities and built sensory abilities through fun art and craft activities. She loved all the activities especially dancing, singing and arts and craft.
As the class is meant for babies from six to 18 months, after one semester she was upgraded to PlayClub for toddlers from 18 months to three-year old.
The two-hour adult-accompanied programme fosters self-control and autonomy and is a bridge between home and school. It is so stimulating and enjoyable that other parents and I participate wholeheartedly in the activities along with our children.
Each semester has a theme; the first was fruits and vegetables, followed by vehicles and now fish in the ocean.
The children learn through various well-coordinated activities like indoor and outdoor plays, music, art and craft, hands-on activities, stories, speech, drama, snacking and learn to recognise alphabets, numbers, shapes and colours.
I enjoy the animated and hilarious PlayClub Bears performances by the teachers where they dress up as bears to enact a story that is related to the topic of the day, be it an alphabet, color or shape. They sing and dance as they tell the story. Most times their antics make everyone laugh out loud.
Baby CAT has become more independent after the first semester and prefers to do activities on her own. The well-thought-out activities stimulate her curiosity and interest in the topics being introduced.
She loves to dance so much that when she hears music or someone hums a tune she will dance uninhibitedly.
She enjoys getting her hands dirty during the art and craft session, exploring the different textures of the materials being used. She makes an object or paints according to the semester’s theme.
The teachers and mothers commend her independence and eagerness to participate in all activities. She is quick to answer questions. Besides, she also encourages her classmates and consoles the crying ones. For this her teachers nicknamed her “class monitor”.
She loves attending the class. To coax her to sleep, I just ask her whether she wants to go to school and she will quickly close her eyes. If she has difficulty getting up in the morning, I give her a choice to stay home or attend school and she will jump up.
She is so independent that her lead teacher, Shoby encourages me to enroll her in the pre-nursery where the children are not accompanied by their parents. I am delaying that move because I will certainly miss the fun with her in class.
Both of us are enjoying ourselves and the precious time shared in the class. I love being part of these wonderful moments with her while she is learning and developing in the class. These will be some of my fondest memories.
In the play school she has learned to do some things on her own and acquired a wider vocabulary that enables her to communicate her needs quite well. Overall, she is a well bahaved child. In addition, I continuously teach her the difference between right and wrong and give her some control over her life by giving her options instead of saying no to everything she asks for. Thus, frustration is avoided.
Also, I make it a point to praise her whenever does something right.
Thank God she doesn't throw tantrums and I hope the “terrible twos” is turning out to be “wonderful twos” for Baby CAT.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.