'You want me to sit & watch my child play? Where's the value in that?'

I've never actually been asked those questions, but they would be valid. Yes, I would like you to sit peacefully and relax during the class, paying attention to your child. What can he already do? Depending on his stage of development, he may have learned to crawl or sit independently, perhaps he's concentrating on rolling. When we take the time to look, it's amazing what he can already do.

'My daughter won't play unless I play with her.' That's ok. When she's ready, she'll find something that interests her. Let's put a few different objects close by. There's no rush.

Parents have a lot of responsibilities. There's a lot of pressure to be a 'good parent'. We often rush about, trying to accomplish many tasks at once and it's so easy to miss our children's accomplishments in the process. Initiating play can sometimes feel like an onerous task and we may long for our child to play independently. In our busy lives, it's easy to feel guilty if we're not teaching our children how to achieve the next milestone and sometimes it all gets a bit too much. For our children too.

A First Playtime class is a place of learning. We learn what our children are capable of. We learn how to reserve judgement, not stepping in unless we have to. We learn that children have innate patterns of development which, if allowed, will blossom right in front of our eyes. 

As the children explore the environment, they come across simple playthings which offer endless possibilities. They learn about themselves and each other through their interactions, guided by their teacher. When there's a need for rest or comfort, Mum or Dad is always there, paying attention. 

This mindful approach suits everyone. The expectations are simple and each child is free to move at their own pace. First Playtime gives children the space and opportunity to play with no agenda except their own. And, when children attend regularly, there is so much they can gain. 

Through unstructured play in a well-designed environment, children will develop skills in socialisation -- learning to play alongside others, independent play -- problem solving, conflict resolution -- dealing with frustration and sharing, and gross motor development -- including movement and balance. All valuable life skills.

I love this work. I get such pleasure from seeing how the children's development unfolds - each week trying the same thing until satisfied; gaining confidence in me and their surroundings; enjoying uninterrupted play in a safe space. All the while they are showing me how amazing little humans can be. And I get to share the joy of it all with you, their parents.

For those that want to go deeper, there are regular workshops for adults only. Why should the children have all the fun? We look at the role of play, the power of language, the importance of respectful care, amongst other things. I take the first three years of life very seriously. So do your children. That doesn't mean it can't be joyful, interesting and rewarding. 

First Playtime Parent-Child Classes - for children from 6 to 24 months approx. - will be running in Whitchurch-on-Thames from the beginning of March. If you're interested in finding out more, why not come and have a FREE taster session