This week we tried out a franchise that I have always been interested in, but after a brief experience with Holly when she was quite young and clearly not feeling it, I never revisited until now. We were invited to attend a session by Lydia who runs classes in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells and I’m really glad we went along.
Driving into Tunbridge Wells was lovely, such a country feel with all the green spaces and well-kept houses. When I pulled into Broadwater Down I spotted a magnificent looking Church and thought it must be St Marks but it didn’t look like any baby group venue I had ever been to before. I turned into St Marks Road and parked up ready to check this was indeed where we were supposed to be.
As it had been a long drive for the children they had both fallen asleep but fortunately for me I had left enough time for them to wake up and work their way out of the sleep fog. Holly quickly emerged ready to go, Liam took a little more convincing.
We walked up to the tall stone Church a little reserved as I still had a little hesitation as to whether the Church Hall was actually attached to the Church! But then I saw the familiar red and yellow logo and become much more confident that the lady I was about to call out to saying hello, was in fact Lydia.
As soon as Lydia spotted us, she was extremely welcoming, not only to me but to the children as well making an effort to greet them in the same manner she did with me. I really appreciated this as Holly can sometimes be a little reserved but she took to Lydia instantly from this point.
I could see we were about to intrude on the set up, so to not get under anyone’s feet, we went for a little wonder around the grounds to take it all in. The stain glass windows were beautiful and with the sun shining you really could appreciate all the elements of this impressive architecture.
Once we were done soaking in the location, we headed back in and this time there were other mums already inside so I felt happy to join the group. To create a nice informal setting, children are invited to sit on a red circular mat with their parents ready for the session. It was at this point when they were pretty much ready to get going Holly decided her nappy was far too wet and must be changed immediately. I felt really silly for not using my earlier time for nappy changing instead of taking in the view, but luckily changing Holly has now been set to a fine art, and the whole group were so lovely when I had to quickly pop off that I didn’t feel like an inconvenience to them.
The session started with a ‘hello’ song which all the other children happily sang along to, Holly picked it up quickly and instantly I knew we were onto a winner. Lydia was so relaxed in her delivery of the class and so warm in her smiles and encouragement that you couldn’t help but just enjoy yourself.
Jo Jingles himself (the franchise mascot) then made his appearance to the group and the children were given the chance to hug him to say hello. Holly quickly passed it on, but the other children gave him such a tight squeeze it was clearly a part they really enjoy. The utilise ‘Jo’ as a learning aid, the children were encouraged to identify the colours ‘he’ was wearing and to find the same colour on their own clothes. Luckily Holly was wearing yellow socks so could join in with this, but Liam was dressed in blue and grey so missed out this time (not that he knew!)
Lydia then teased with the idea of finding something under the table and it was revealed the instruments were about to come out. Holly excitedly ran to the box with the other children and brought a tambourine back for all three of us. An array of songs were then played encouraging the children to follow the beat featuring slow and fast then quiet and loud. It’s the first time Liam really engaged in an activity like this which made me so pleased to see.
The children were encouraged to tidy up and allow the spider puppets to make an appearance. This was a lot of fun with Holly giggling away at the spider and Liam enjoying the daggling legs. This quickly moved onto bean bag excitement in a ‘boat’ working on hand eye coordination with throwing and catching. As the class was now reaching its peak of physical movement the group were directed to walk, skip, jump and march in a circle which I think was needed at this point in the class.
To wrap up, a number of cute looking bunnies made their arrival and the good old favourite ‘sleeping bunnies’ was performed with a lot of dedication by Holly and the other children. Jo Jingles made his final goodbyes along with a shower of bubbles and the children were gifted with a sticker to show they had completed the class.
I really felt this class had so many different elements to it keeping the children of all different ages engaged and having fun. They covered colours, movement, body parts, sharing and tidying.
Lydia was a brilliant class leader and her musical background really shone through in her confidence and her passion in delivering the class. So if you’re looking for a class in the Tunbridge Wells area, definitely give this a go!