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I have just started taking my twenty month daughter to Tumbletots, having already taken her older sister up to the age of three. I have to say that for both girls the experience has been and is very good and it certainly increases their confidence when doing physical activities.
What is Tumbletots? Tumbletots is a national organisation but is run in local areas on franchises. It holds classes in your local area, run by trained staff, that will help your children develop their physical skills. Before children start at Tumbletots they can attend gymbabe classes as babies, but neither of mine did this, so I am unable to talk about that!
The tumbletots classes are divided into three different age groups - walking to two years, two to three years, and then three years to school. My youngest daughter is in the walking to two year class at the moment, and my other daughter went through all three.
The classes all last for forty five minutes and the cost per session is £5.50. This might seem quite expensive, but you do have four trained staff working at the session and the children do have access to a huge range of equipment, plus all the administration costs!
What happens in a class? In the walking to two year class, a lot of different equipment is set out to form a circuit. The children are encouraged to following the circuit with their parents and tackle lots of different things which will help them balance, jump, roll, climb etc. At various points round the circuit there is slightly more ambitious apparatus and these points are manned by the staff who will help you guide your child on these, showing where to place hands, feet, heads, etc. Halfway through the session they will bring out a coordination activity which might be something like bouncing balls or placing sticks in holes. They will also have a time when all parents sit round with their children and everyone takes part in various action songs. All in all it is great fun, and it is really good one to one time with your child.
In the two to three year classes, parents still actively guide their children but the equipment is set up in a more structured way. It is set up in three smaller circuits and the children are asked to do specific things on the different apparatus. After a certain amount of time the children, who are working as a group, move onto the next mini circuit. There is a fourth activity point which is where the children work on specific coordination activities. These might include building towers out of bean bags or throwing balloons at a target. There is also a singing element in this group but not so much as the younger ones.
At the end of both these sessions, children move to sit in a circle, any birthdays are celebrated and then it's STICKER TIME! All children get a sticker at the end of every session.
The third class is the three years plus class and there is a huge difference her because parents no longer go in and work with their children. The children work on similar but more challenging activities than the previous class. Although parents no longer go in with their children, they do have to stay on the premises.
I have to say that my older daughter really loved all three classes, and she really blossomed in her physical skills. She does not attend any more as it clashes with her pre-school, but I would have carried it on longer with her otherwise. My younger daughter has taken a couple of weeks to get into it, but I can also see her starting to come on greatly.
Other information As I have already said, classes cost £5.50. At least this is the case in my area (Wokingham) and I assume it is the same across the country. You have to pay for half a term at a time and the classes fall pretty much within normal term times. One good thing is that if you are not able to make your usual class for whatever reason, you can always attend a catch up class at another time or venue. I have taken advantage of this a couple of times and they do even do classes on Saturdays which is helpful.
You also pay a yearly £20 which is mainly to cover insurance but you do get other advantages through this as well. When you first join, your child receives a bright red Tumbletots bag and a yellow Tumbletots t-shirt. They also get a SD ROM with the most popular Tumbletots action songs on them for you to use at home, and a small inflatable hoop with some suggestions on how to use this to help coordination. You will also receive throughout the year four copies of the Right Start magazine with lots of practical advice for bringing up children. In addition there is a members' handbook with lots of money off coupons which is very helpful!
My experience I have had association with Tumbletots for about two years and have nothing but praise for them, I find that my local Tumbletots is well managed and efficient and all the staff are warm and friendly, plus they are very good at helping my children. They are welcoming to other family members, and happy to have younger children watching in travel seats or pushchairs. Both my children really enjoy the Tumbletots experience and I would definitely recommend joining up!
For more information about your local Tumbletots, and lots of things to buy you can visit their website at: