A good pre-primary education covers four main areas of development for your child - the social, the emotional, the cognitive and the physical. It is widely accepted that children today are less physically active and therefore less physically developed, due to our modern lifestyles that include a lot of time spent in car seats, prams and screen time. Here at Weavers' Nest, we've seen that the physical area of child development specifically needs a boost these days.
About five years ago, Cecily Fraser, Head of Early Childhood Development at Highbury, identified and purchased a programme from Australia called 'Smart Start with Perceptual Motor Program' in order to give our Weavers' Nest children the extra physical development boost they need. Mrs Fraser worked with Jean Burrows, an Occupational Therapist at the Learning and Development Centre at Highbury, to adapt and implement the Australian programme in a dedicated room within Weavers' Nest. All equipment was custom made for Weavers' Nest based on the program specifications, and then added to over the years.
Today, our Indoor Perceptual Motor Movement (IPMM) programme at Weavers’ Nest is really something unique and special. The exercises begin in Grade 000 (age 3, turning 4) with fun floor sessions which involve learning the core movements such as pencil rolls, crawling, different types of walking (for example tiptoe versus dinosaur walking) in order to strengthen their large muscle groups. Then in Grade 00 (age 4, turning 5) the children are then ready to use the Indoor Perceptual Motor Movement Room. This bright engaging room is set up with five stations, each dedicated to a different type of development: (1) Hand-eye co-ordination, (2) Fitness, (3) Balance, (4) Locomotion and (5) Eye tracking. There is an adult at each station, so Weavers' Nest uses teachers, interns and teacher assistants to have all hands on deck! Grade 00 children use the room at least twice a week and the whole set-up is changed every two weeks. Each station has a card that describes how it should be performed and extended, once the child is capable. Sometimes similar activities are done outdoors too, for more space to move.
Since introducing our IPPMM programme at Weavers' Nest, our teachers have been delighted by lovely success stories of development as they are enabled to strengthen their little bodies. The goal is preventative rather than curative: one wants to avoid the need for remediation later and to develop our children into students who are successful long term. In fact, we have seen such benefits that we are expanding the programme this year to include our Grade R boys.
Watch our video on our Highbury Facebook page to see our Grade 00 children in action in a typical session: such great early childhood development... and great fun!