What to expect at our sessions.
I attended so many toddler groups while childminding and with my own boys. My eldest was born when I was 21 and although I wasn’t a teenage mum I did feel very young, none of my close circle of friends had children.
I remember my first experience of walking into a toddler group, it was a large rectangular shaped room with a line of chairs down both of the long walls facing each other. All the adults were sat talking and the children were tearing up the centre of the room like they’d each eaten their body’s weight in orange smarties (you know they’re the bad ones right?)
I stood in the door way clutching tight to my 6 month old as if we were facing a hurricane, I was mentally running through the conversation I was going to have with my mum the next time I saw her for forcing me to attend this awful place. I think we stayed for about 20 minutes then both left for a nap to recover.
Now I expect you’re waiting for me to say but I persevered and found they were an absolute life line aren’t you??? Well sorry to disappoint – they weren’t!!! However the experience did get slightly better and both the children in my care when I was minding, my boys and I definitely took positive experiences away from these sessions.
While setting up 4 Cheeky Monkeys I made sure it had everything I felt other groups lacked, my top priority was outdoor play. I wanted safe enclosed spaces, lots of variety in resources, toys that had working batteries in, toys that were clean and in good condition… I also wanted to break up the adults sat at the edges children running riot theme a lot of them seemed to favour.
I really didn’t want to ‘cliquey’ unapproachable feel to the group which is something you can’t really stop happening however we planned and arranged the room in a way we hoped would stop this.
Were we successful?
Do you know, I think we’ve come as close as possible and to the degree I’d hoped. Yes there are friends that meet up and have a catch up, but they keep a close eye on their children. The majority of adults move round with their children and engage in play with them. It’s a place you can go and have one to one time with your child however if you speak to any of our regulars they will all happily chat to you. I am confident in saying everyone that attends is lovely, our regulars are as friendly as our staff and will go out of their way to make you feel welcome. It’s been lovely to witness so many friendships evolve both with children but also with lots of adults.
What can you expect during a session?
- As you enter 4 Cheeky Monkeys you’ll be at the back of the building, Lesley our centre manager is ‘usually’(unless she’s run off to put full signs up or deal with an emergency) stood opposite you at the other end of the room. If you sign in with her she’ll show you where the toilets are.
- Its then free play until 10am/10.15am when teas and coffees are available for adults to buy we provide free juice and biscuits for the children. I just want to address here why we choose biscuits as it has been asked before and I know everyone is trying to promote healthy eating. To provide toast would be time consuming (Lesley is on her own during sessions) and we’d also have to change our food safety registration to be able to provide hot food – which we don’t really want to go through. We tried fruit in the past this worked out very expensive with a lot of waste and people still asking for biscuits.
- After snack there is usually a craft activity set up and outdoor play available. Please always supervise your children outside.
- At 11.10am it’s tidy up time followed by singing and dancing.