How online baby and toddler classes are proving a lifeline to young families in lockdown

Written by Tiny Talk

Imagine being housebound with a baby or toddler, day and night, for months on end. That has been the reality for thousands of young families during this health crisis lockdown. Not being able to socialise, or have the support from their friends and families, has been tough.

Having a baby can be hard at the best of times. It’s exhausting, with limited sleep. It’s overwhelming, not knowing what you’re doing. It can be lonely, being away from others. The British Red Cross and Co-op conducted research into the loneliness of young parents and found a staggering 82% of mothers under 30 felt lonely ‘some of the time’ and almost 50% admitted ‘often’ or ‘always’.

Loneliness can have a serious impact on mental health, leading to depression, stress, anxiety, and feeling unable to cope.

Then add on a lockdown…

Young families need interaction with others.

Socialising develops important life-skills for children, playing with others and learning difficult concepts, such as sharing and turn-taking! Adults forge new friendships, ‘all in it together’, as they navigate this exciting but challenging new time in their lives. They realise they’re not alone, that others are going through it too, with similar experiences. This all leads to positive parenting: everyone doing their very best to raise their children. Social interaction, and connecting with others, is key.

Usually there is a plethora of baby and toddler classes out there, with baby signing, singing, dancing, swimming, massage and art all on offer!

Singing, in particular, is proved to benefit post-natal depression significantly, releasing natural happy endorphins. Baby signing allows parents to understand their children long before they’re able to talk, relieving parents of the frustration from ‘guesswork’ and giving babies a means to express themselves. Just spending time with other parents and carers, connecting over shared experiences, improves wellbeing.

In this current health crisis, the world has turned upside down. However many classes have gone online and the very best ones are live and interactive. They provide all the fun of a face-to-face class but from the comfort of your own home. If the camera is turned off (or even if it isn’t) you can take part in your pyjamas!

TinyTalk baby signing e-classes tick all of these boxes. Founded in 2002 by Katie Mayne, an experienced Primary School Teacher and Teacher of the Deaf, the multi award-winning company has helped thousands of young families understand each other better. And now they’ve gone online.

As Mayne says:

“Baby signing allows pre-verbal children to communicate – and they have a lot to say! Signing helps babies express what they’re thinking, looking at or wanting, whether it’s a ‘bird’ in the tree, their ‘milk’ or a favourite ‘book’. It’s fascinating getting to know your baby and how they think at such an early age – and their speech comes through just as well later on.”

With over 100 teachers across the UK and Switzerland, the company delivers a range of quality classes for newborns, babies and toddlers. Streamed live every week, ‘TinyTalk TV’ is taught by the whole team of teachers, supporting their local families. The parents and carers are able to join in the fun and games throughout each session, with song requests, answers to questions and quizzes, updates on their signing progress and plenty of chatting between everyone. The classes are upbeat and musical with plenty of multi-sensory activities to bring the teaching and learning alive. Flashing balls, voile scarves and mirrors are all part of the package – with suggestions for after-class ‘homework’, too! 

The camera is always on the teacher, safeguarding the privacy of young families. No one misses any of the learning as they can see clearly what the teacher is doing – and the fun and games that ‘TinyTalk Ted’ also gets up to! The teacher can see who’s attending and is able to name-check and interact with everyone, each family being included and valued.

Anna Drywood-Senior, the local teacher in Mid Kent (Maidstone and Sittingbourne) says:

“I am loving my online classes, being able to support my lovely families. I feel very lucky to be able to be there for them, all of us going through lockdown together. I am getting such great feedback, saying it is “much-needed normality each week when everything else is so different” If anyone would like to trial a class, just paying for one rather than for the whole term, it’s a great way of seeing what we get up to and joining in the fun.”

After each class, the socialising continues in online, private groups. Families can share photos or videos with each other, of their latest signing achievements or what they’ve been doing in the week. ‘Lockdown lifehack’ top tips can be exchanged as well as what’s making them smile or even recipes for making bread!

It’s a winning combination that TinyTalk baby signing classes offer, marrying education and entertainment with a close and supportive community. TinyTalk’s commitment to their young families is impressive: quality teaching for the little ones and a social ‘safe space’ for the adults, providing a much-needed lifeline.

No one knows how much longer we will all be in lockdown, unable to spend time, physically, with our loved ones. Until then, TinyTalk is doing all it can for its class families – being there for them and their little ones – as we all go through it together.

We have 7 TinyTalk Teachers in Kent and over 100 across the country.

To find your nearest TinyTalk teacher, visit www.tinytalk.co.uk

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