The Village Uses Innovative Classes to Teach Kids (and Babies!) Through Play
I love my one-on-one time with my 14-month old, Julia, but am always on the lookout for opportunities to get her together with other kids (umm…maybe that’s the biggest reason I use GRKIDS.com so much!).
This week I took her to several baby and toddler classes at The Village – and was totally blown away! There are music classes, baby sign language, unstructured play times and Explore-a-Story, which focuses on literacy development. Science themed classes, classes for infants and classes focusing on motor skill development are also available.
Basically, there’s something for every child aged birth to five years. Each class is so well structured, so informative for parents and so fun for my tiny tot. I enjoyed it as almost as much as Julia did.
The Village Helps Babies and Kids Learn to Express Themselves – Even Before They can Talk!
Even as a baby, my daughter knows what she wants. She just can’t always express it. That’s why I love how the baby sign language class offered at The Village gives her a whole new way to communicate.
Emily Goudreault, founder of The Village, is a speech-language pathologist who leads the class through fun games and songs that use sign language to help kids identify and convey how they’re feeling.
“These are the years that count the most! I work really hard to make sure that all of our classes are taught by experienced, educated and highly knowledgeable professionals who know how to develop a research-driven, yet FUN, class curriculum!” Emily shares.
Moms Love the Effect the Village has on Their Children
The moms I spoke to are delighted by how their children respond to The Village classes.
Sabrina Sain of Grand Rapids has been bringing her 7-month-old daughter, Ayana, to Baby Sign Language for three months. Ayana is already able to sign several words and loves when it’s time for class. When asked if she plans to keep coming, Sabrina told me, “Of course! Yes! Yes!”
Connie Sargunam of Grand Rapids uses sign language frequently at home with her 21-month-old daughter. Connie believes it, “helps with behavior, decreases frustration” and the interaction with the other kids is great for building relationships. The Village has “done wonders” for helping Anika express herself, Connie says.
Parents Learn Simple ways to Encourage Their Child’s Development at Home
All classes at The Village are thoughtfully designed to help kiddos develop key social, emotional, conceptual or physical skills. Teachers explain the skills to parents and give you an incredibly well-organized binder of information and helpful hints to take home.
The super popular Fun Foundations class is centered around a specific theme.
“I choose class themes and activities that I know are foundational language concepts, such as location words like in/out or up/down, describing words such as dirty/clean or big/little, or functional everyday routines like bathtime, bedtime or turn taking,” explains Emily.
“Our science education specialist, Miss Christina, develops themes for her Little Scientist’s Club class to teach the foundational skills for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)”.
Other classes, like the Sensory + Art Club, use paint, water and tons of texture to encourage kids to hone their motor skills while socializing. Baby Club lets wee ones explore the world around them while the Little Scientist’s Club encourages toddlers to use their imagination and motor skills to do actual science experiments!
The Village is Great Social Time for Moms, Too!
Among many things, I was impressed by the no-judgement attitude at The Village. It’s a relaxed environment for us parents as well as our kids.
Moms were encouraged to share how they’re doing as well as how their kiddos are. People were friendly and I felt completely comfortable breastfeeding Julia when she needed it.
The unstructured play portions of several of the classes are beneficial to both kids and moms.
“Play is far more powerful for children than many parents realize. It’s actually the key to learning. Researchers and educators across the world have found that play can help enrich learning and contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of young children,” Emily tells me.
For us moms, it’s a great opportunity to step back and just enjoy watching our kids in action. I was amazed how well Julia did without me!
Here’s how you can Experience the Fun at The Village
You can sign up anytime for classes at The Village. There’s an awesome free trial available right now that lets you go to as many classes as you want for ten days (yes, for FREE!).
After that you can choose to sign up for different monthly packages, the 10-class pass or a 1-class pass as the mood strikes.
Most classes are held in Grand Rapids (3300 Burton St SE) but there’s also a Holland location (291 W. Lakewood Blvd). The Village website explains the goal of each class and has a regularly updated calendar so you can plan ahead.
I’ll definitely be signing up for more and can’t wait to learn along with Julia!