Thursday, September 06, 2012

Another Toddler Program

We tried another toddler program for Miya. I don't want to say the name of the place because I was disappointed with the classes. I bought the voucher for 8 classes from DealGrocer. Since I also bought my Gymboree sampler classes from Deal Gocer, I figured this must be a good place. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met. We only went for three classes and did not come back for the other remaining classes that we're supposed to go to.

The first time we went, there were I think more than 10 kids with more than 1 companion each. Some kids even had 3 companions inside the room. And since we were new to the program we didn't know what to do. First we were asked to line up and my thought was "Line up and do what?" It turned out we were supposed to line up and do the activities on the floor much like the play area at Gymboree. Sorry if I will keep on comparing it to Gymboree since this is the only toddler program we've attended for Miya. So Gymboree will be my standard in comparing all the other toddler programs we encounter. When the program didn't start, I was happy Miya was doing all the activities on the floor. But the moment the program started, it was chaos. There was a kid and adult in every corner. I had a headache after a few minutes the program started. I can't follow what's happening. After the kids did the floor activities like going inside the tunnel, climbing the steps, going down the slide, balls were given to the kids to play with. They were asked for different colors which they can shoot. After the balls, the kids were given musical instruments. There was a song being played and the children were asked to play with the instruments while the music is playing and then to stop when the music stops. After the musical instruments, they were given different colored blocks/shapes. Again, the teachers ask for a specific color and the kids should be able to hand it to them. For these three activities, after every activity the children were asked to pack away - much like in Gymboree, they also have almost the same song "This is the way we pack away, pack away, pack away. This is the way we pack away here at Gymboree" only there they use "here in our school".  The teacher has one teacher aide but honestly I don't know who is who. I guess the younger one is the teacher but the teacher aide is the livelier one when giving instructions. Plus since there were a lot of kids, they didn't really see if all the kids follow the instructions or whatever. That's when I realized how important is teacher:student ratio when we pick a school for Miya. I thought my kid will either be super smart or super slow for the teacher to notice her if I put her in a school with lots of kids in a class.

There was also an activity where the kids were asked to divide into two groups and then they play with this small log which they push towards the direction of the other group. Another activity is jumping on a trampoline. And then I think they proceed to singing songs. The teachers sang the song without even teaching the kids the lines to the song first. They just went on singing and doing the actions to the song. The older kids and I guess old-timers to the program are able to sing along. After the songs, i think it was story telling time. Afterwards, it was bubbles and parachute time (both activities are part of Gymboree's play class). These last two activities are Miya's favorite. So by the time the last activities rolled in, I was starting to be happier with the program. I thought well maybe the program is for a small number of kids only, they didn't anticipate the number of voucher holders from Deal Grocer.  Which is true enough, what happened because after the class they gave out letters saying that they're extending the use of the voucher until October because they were overwhelmed with the number of buyers of the vouchers. Well, I think the one who handles their registration was inefficient, that's why they had this problem. The voucher said to email them immediately after buying to register. So I did, I even emailed our preferred schedule for the 8 classes since I want to get a slot as early as possible. I did not get a reply so I called their office. When I called I told the one who handles the registration that I already emailed the voucher and I was checking if she received it. She said yes over the phone. And then I asked if I can change the schedule I emailed, she took my preferred schedule (I thought) because I dictated it to her. Since the original deadline for using the voucher was Sept 2 and we only had a few Saturdays left, we scheduled a few weekdays for the classes. This is of course dependent on when Joema and I can take a leave from work. There were another few changes in our sched, so I emailed the new sched again and asked for an email reply to confirm the changes. The person in charge replied and confirmed the new sched. When we got there on our first class, I was asked to sign a registration form. So I did, and then she asked me what schedule I wanted. So I told her that I already emailed it to her and showed her a printout of our email conversation. She then asked me if she can have the printout for her file. Sus! And there I thought when we arrive, they'll have a list of all the participants for this Saturday and just check it against their list. But no they don't have that. They just give you a small card which they will stamp on every time you attend a class. On the one hand if they were only more conscious about this, they wouldn't have a problem with the schedules. On the other, their system also worked since everyone was accommodated. But the problem was the class was always full packed. The three times we were there, there were always 10 kids or more. I'm not sure what their policy is with the number of students but their venue was not fit for a group that big. The play area always felt chaotic.


Happy trying out the tunnel
More photos after the jump..



The log activity


Playing with the different colored shapes
Playing with bubbles
Enjoying the parachute ride

Well actually it got better on our 2nd class. I think Miya and I enjoyed the second class more because we knew what to expect. Unfortunately, we were not able to finish our 2nd class because we had to leave early. Miya was not able to do the bubbles and parachute thing.

It was a totally different matter the third time we were there. They jumbled up the order of the activities, they had the story telling first. And then the floor activities. Then I think they sang the songs. I don't even remember what happened and since we don't have photos, I can't refer back to the photos to know what happened haha. We were not even halfway through with the class when Miya started walking towards the other end of the activity area (near the exit). When I go to her and bring her back for the activities, she'll do it for a few minutes and then walk again towards the exit. I thought she was not feeling well. That's when I decided to just leave. We went outside and looked for Joema. We went to Ayala Triangle instead to play. Miya enjoyed herself there running around the park looking for birds. So I know Miya was feeling alright that time, she was just bored at the whole program haha!

My realizations:
1. As I've said I've realized the importance of teacher-student ratio when we look for a school for Miya
2. The teacher makes or breaks the school. I think even with a reputable school if your child gets a not so good teacher, you won't get the benefits of what you paid for the school. So I guess doing a tour of the school and sitting in in the class of your child's future teacher will help in deciding which school you want your  child to get into. Well, hopefully all schools will have tour school and you can ask to sit in a specific teacher's class. Or hopefully, the school really has a good standard for ALL their teachers.
3. It's important to us that Miya enjoys what she's doing. We can't enroll her in every toddler program there is. We need to know if she likes it first.
4. I want to enroll her in a toddler program as early as now and we want to make it a regular thing. I'm actually looking into prospective pre-schools as early as now. What with the high costs, I think it's never too early to know your options. We're not doing school visits but I'm doing my research. I think at a young age, I'd like to enroll her in a progressive school so that she won't feel that she's studying at an early age. I want her to learn at the same time enjoy what she's doing. I've discussed this with hubby and we're still discussing. When she gets bigger, I think that's when we can enroll her in a traditional school. That's my thinking as of the moment, although as I've said I'm still researching. I even want to homeschool her if only I'm a stay-at-home or work-at-home mom.

We tried another toddler program for Miya but we're doing another trial class this weekend so let's see how that goes. After that, we'll decide where to enroll her: Gymboree or Option B. =)

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