Director of Research and Education at GymbaROO, Dr Jane Williams, is passionate about delivering a program that promotes healthy physical, social and mental development for babies and toddlers. The activities the GymbaROO centres deliver, is based squarely on neuro-developmental research, and has provided thousands of children with a great start to life and learning.
When the Coronavirus pandemic hit Australia and the GymbaROO centres were forced to close their doors, the business quickly pivoted to delivering their classes via video, providing parents with a way to continue the necessary stimulation of their children’s brains and motor skills and also a providing a much needed way of keeping children active while at the same time, establishing a familiar link back to the centres and their teachers.
While Dr Williams believes that screen time needs to be closely monitored and minimised for littlies, she realises that in these unique circumstances, screens are providing a much-needed connection to normality. But she has some good advice around that. “Our video sessions are around 30 minutes long. After that I strongly recommend that children are taken outside if possible so they can exercise their long-distance vision. Walking, playing, collecting leaves and objects of interest – activities that are not centred around a screen.”
She believes routine is vitally important for children who are confined to home. “Having planned activities that are carried out at the same time every day provides a sense of security and comfort to children. She recommends a daily routine in which children practice their GymbaROO exercises. “Repetition helps the brain connect the dots super-fast and they can then move on to the next skill development. The children don’t need to watch the session again, if a parent has watched it and uses the notes we also provide, the activities can be easily replicated.” GymbaROO has always focused on actively involving parents in their children’s development.
Dr Williams is sympathetic to all those parents who have their children at home in a lockdown situation with no playgroups, kindergartens, or school. “Keeping children active is so important at the moment,” she explains. “Activities for your children should be a good mix of structured and unstructured play. Exploration play is vital – let them climb over the furniture (within reason) build cubbies with blankets and chairs and discover what works, what moves and what the outcomes of actions are. This sort of activity stimulates the senses, curiosity, imagination and creativity.”