WHAT HAPPENS IN A TOPTOTS CLASS?
We look at all the aspects of a child’s development from fine motor to gross motor and everything in between. Our programme was designed by specialists in their field giving us the best programme for your little tot’s development. At Toptots we believe that each child needs to be exposed to activities that are age appropriate and because of that we offer seven age groups.
Infant birth – 3 months
Small Baby 4 – 7 months
Big Baby 8 – 12 months
Little Toddler 13 – 18 months
Tot 19 – 24 months
Big Tot 2 – 3 years
Top of the Tots 3 – 4 years
On joining a Toptots class, you will receive a gift pack that includes a Tom-e ragdoll and back pack (Applicable for enrolments in South Africa ONLY).
During your time with us your little one will make many little mementoes for you to keep as a reminder of his progress and growth which can be shared with family and friends.
On his birthday he will receive a birthday card from the instructor and Tom-e and when a Toptot has completed his time with us he will receive a certificate to remind him of the wonderful time he spent with Toptots and Tom-e.
A typical class includes all of the following activities during the 90 minutes.
- Free Play – Social interaction
- Clean Up – This encourages children to become responsible for cleaning up their own toys.
- Greeting Song – This greeting signals the start of the class.
- Stimulation Activities – Individual boxes are packed for each age group. Activities are explained in detail so that parents know what to do and also very importantly, what the activity stimulates.
- Parachute – This is specifically a sensory exercise and will benefit all the Toptots.
- Interactive Music Story – Three levels of participation: intellectually, emotionally (allowing children to feel) by listening to a short story or poem with guided imagery, and physically (playing the instrument).
- Creative – We do believe that children should explore the different mediums and not be inhibited by the adult’s creativity. In other words art is child centred and can be messy.
- Textures – We offer a variety of tactile experiences for all age groups.
- Gross Motor – A varied programme that stimulates large muscle development and motor planning.
- Tea – Social interaction for mom.
- Music Time – Chaotic expression. Action and instrumental songs with quality instruments.
- Pilates for Baby – Ball activities are excellent for working on balance, joint compression, weight bearing, gravitational security and stimulation of the vestibular system, awareness of body in space and body position,
and development of the large muscles. They should be encouraged, especially with babies who don’t like them.
- Action Songs – Toptots are encouraged to do actions to music. Repetition is key.
- Toptots I Love You – cuddle song for mom, to say thank you for the time spent playing and learning.
- Goodbye Time – Our own special Toptots goodbye. This signals the end of the class.
Each Toptot receives a sticker at the end of group.
Why we have…
Toptots activities are specially designed to enhance intellectual and fine motor potential, and other important life skills, like emotional and social development.
Activities must be fun for the child, so don’t pressure them if they don’t feel like joining in today. Rather try the activity at home. In this way they will link learning with pleasure, and positive attention from the one they love!
Music in its basic form – rhythm and melody – it stimulates brain activity (the release of neurons) in a child’s left and right side. For example, when a child thinks or talks about the sounds they hear, they only use the left side of their brain. However, when a child engages in music making, irrespective of musical ability, they will use the right side of their brain.
Dr Jean Houston of the Foundation for Mind Research said children who do not have access to a music programme basically do not develop both sides of their brain equally – which impacts on their learning and thinking skills. Another researcher in the field, Roehmann, said that music helps children develop skills such as reading, writing, maths and science.
According to psychologist Frances Rauscher, music activities build new spatial reasoning, while improving a child’s perceptual and cognitive skills, as well as self-discipline, dexterity, co-ordination, self-esteem, thinking skills, creative ability and personal expression.
Music is a wonderful medium as it stimulates more than fundamental learning, it is a pleasurable way for children to express themselves. Music is basically creative energy captured in sound that allows children to cope with the environment. There are so many physical, emotional and external changes taking place in a toddler’s life. Music helps children to understand this environment and to express their feelings about their environment – especially when words are not available to do so.
Benefits of Parachute and Reading!
These are just two of the activities the children are involved with at Toptots and there are lots of benefits to all of them:
Balance is one of the many skills gained when we do our parachute activities. Muscle control and strength, confidence in their body. Awareness of the space around them – which in turn means they will be more successful in manoeuvring themselves around their environment.
Parachutes were initially used for children who battled to open up to sensory stimulation, and it helps our little ones open up for new experiences, just before they go to textures and explorative play. Of course the most important thing gained is FUN!!
Generally when we are teaching our children their spoken vocabulary, they gain it from our modelling to them; by talking to them and showing them different objects. The pictures and words that children receive at Toptots teach them to increase their spoken vocabulary, and to begin to understand that those spoken words can also be represented in symbols (called words). This is very basic to us, but children don’t automatically understand this.
So when we are looking at a picture of a cat, and we have the word beside it, we point out that this is a cat and this is the word for cat.
Sensory Integration Area
Our texture pit is a pre-reading activity. The child discovers something unusual through the senses. The brain has to unscramble this information, in the same way that the brain will later need to unscramble words that it receives from another sense organ (the eyes) when reading, so here we are practising unscrambling!