Per­fect way to har­monise with your mu­si­cal ba­bies

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

WHEN it was sug­gested that I might like to join a ses­sion of ‘mu­si­cal ba­bies’, I was a bit wor­ried that it might be like pass the par­cel – if you are hold­ing the baby when the mu­sic stops, you have to take it home.

I jest. As with all ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties, even the fun ones, there is se­ri­ous in­tent, so it was fas­ci­nat­ing to be part of the ses­sion at Charville Chil­dren’s Cen­tre.

Hav­ing been a great ad­mirer of th­ese lit­tle oases since their in­tro­duc­tion na­tion­ally as Sure Start cen­tres in 1998, I was pleased to be in­vited to join the ad­vi­sory board for the Hayes chil­dren’s cen­tres last year.

The ses­sion be­gan with a mu­si­cal greet­ing in which ev­ery baby was in­tro­duced and we all sang hello to them by name. Their sur­prised faces and smiles of recog­ni­tion were a joy to see, and a won­der­ful ex­am­ple of their learn­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion and so­cial skills.

The cir­cle of mums, plus one dad (hur­rah) re­clined on bean­bags, ba­bies on their laps, but the board’s chair­man, David Brough, and I were glad to be on chairs. Sit­ting on the floor would have been no prob­lem, but get­ting up again ...?

Be­ing on your own with a baby can be very iso­lat­ing, so par­ents were clearly en­joy­ing the chance to so­cialise too. They also take home with them rhymes that they may not have learned them­selves as chil­dren, but which will help their ba­bies’ devel­op­ment, par­tic­u­larly with con­cen­tra­tion and speech.

There’s so much more to chil­dren’s cen­tres than peo­ple re­alise and I re­ally wish they’d had them when Fisher Ju­nior was a baby. The range of ser­vices in­clude health and em­ploy­ment ad­vice and there are al­ways non-judg­men­tal staff ready to lis­ten.

You can be sure of a wel­come. In fact, af­ter my ses­sion, when the mu­sic did stop, I’d gladly have taken one of the ba­bies home with me. I won’t tell you what Mr F said to that.

MY days as a teacher (in Eal­ing) are long past, so while writ­ing about my ex­pe­ri­ence at the chil­dren’s cen­tre it seemed timely that a mes­sage from an ex-pupil popped into my in­box.

Now a teacher her­self, she thanked me for ‘inspiring her’ to go into the pro­fes­sion. Against the mod­ern cli­mate of teacher-bash­ing, I ad­mit to feel­ing very moved.

For Hilling­don bor­ough cen­tres, visit www.hilling­don.gov.uk/chil­dren­scen­tres

Email me at bmail­bar­bara@gmail.com or catch up at www.getwestlon­don.co.uk/bmail.

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