Inspired by Pikler and the Children

In more than ten years of running parent-child groups, I've seen many wonderful moments of play and interaction between very young children and between the children and their parents. The Playthings in the room have always been beautiful to the eye - it was a Steiner-Waldorf setting so very little was synthetic or brightly coloured and that appealed to me. Then, about six years ago, I was introduced to the work of the Hungarian Paediatrician, Dr Emmi Pikler, and my outlook changed. I began to understand infants and toddlers in a refreshingly new way - from their gross and fine motor development to their amazing competence and ability to communicate long before recognisable language has begun. I learned to acknowledge the very young child as a whole human being, worthy of respect, empathy and autonomy.

Over the last six years of study, I have brought more and more elements of the Pikler Approach into my practice. The groups I run became something new and exciting, not only for me but, importantly, for the parents and their children too. And while I was bringing about these changes, I was also refining the environment. I have learned that these children need open-ended Playthings - objects that can be manipulated in different ways - stacked, sorted, rolled, banged - open to interpretation. Because, whatever the general view may be, even a three month old infant is capable of experimentation, deduction and refinement. I've seen it time and again.

As I learned to observe the children who came to play, I found that some objects were just downright frustrating to them - too difficult to get hold of or too awkward to stack. Sometimes something was so popular that it became a regular cause of conflict. Where could I get some more? At other times I realised that no-one had touched particular items for months. Why was that?

Then one day, I realised that there was a need for a place like First Playthings. I wasn't the only one who wanted to source these objects. I lost count of the number of times a parent would ask, 'Where did you get that? I'd love to get one.' And First Playthings was born. My first sales were at the Pikler UK Association Conference in London in 2016, where I received lots of positive feedback, and I haven't looked back. 

Skip forward to today and I have developed the business further, with First Playtime, offering the Pikler-inspired playgroup experience to a wider audience where I live. These are exciting times for me and I am really looking forward to sharing more of what inspires me as I embrace each new challenge coming my way.

With a busy life, children of my own, study and my parent-child groups, it has taken me a while to build up the confidence to develop First Playtime. And now, with the support of colleagues, friends and business mentors, I'm ready. 

With Warm Wishes to Parents, Care-givers and Families Everywhere...

Rachel