Friday, July 10, 2015

Toddling Around in a Gymboree Class

[Note: All rates and information are as of April 2015 for Play and Learn 4 (PL4)] 
"Hello, hello, hello! Hello, how are you? I'm glad to see you too, and you and you and you..."

^That's a new hello greeting we learned at Gymboree! Yep, just one of the many songs we sang for Z's first Gymboree session, also called the preview (trial) class.

I have been admiring Gymboree venues even when I was still heavily preggo. What's not to like? The interiors look really clean, safe and fun too! My first impression is that it most definitely is an indoor playground with mats, foam paddings and wooden installments. Nothing too intimidating for kids with boundless energy. This particular venue we tried is quite accessible to us via LRT/MRT and I also like that it is sharing the same floor as the food court! Alam na kung nasaan ang mommy and baby pagkatapos :D

Sure helps that it is highly recommended by Z's tita, Teacher S! As a former Gymboree teacher, Tita Teacher S was able to guide us to choose the best time to start Z for this kind of activity and likewise, on which activity would suit her best.

So last April, we headed over to Gymboree Magnolia, for Z's trial "Play & Learn" class. We invited Z's grandparents so we can all together evaluate and care for Z while inside the class. And of course, to take video and photo snippets that we can share to you! :)

If you are interested in letting your child go to Gymboree, I really suggest you take a preview/trial class. There is a fee (around PHP 600.00 as of Apr 2015) which is good for one full 45-minute session. If you decide to finally enroll within two weeks from preview class, this fee will be deducted upon enrollment; hence it becomes, effectively, free! This is really better than committing a larger sum of money upfront and finding out later that it doesn't fit your needs or your lifestyle.

On the preview day, we made sure that Z was well-rested with her morning nap and had a sufficient meal. It's harder to decide if your child likes it if she's fussy/sleepy/hungry, right? We also explained to her before going what she should expect and how she's expected to behave -- at around 15 months then, I'm not sure she really understood but she was generally behaved and truly observant.

Upon arriving, she was given a name tag so that the Gymboree teachers will be able to identify her. My mom and I put on our socks (it's required of adults) and we had a few minutes of free play inside the area. At this point I was really glad I did not go alone hahaha...it's quite tiring to run after a small child who wants to keep on exploring! Besides, we weren't provided with lockers so I was forever paranoid with my things. So double thanks to Z's lolo who not only took most of the photos and videos but also stood by to make sure our things are safe :)

When the other kids started ambling about, the teacher then signaled for us to come together as the class was about to begin. So what did we do exactly? While I definitely couldn't remember each activity that we did, there sure was a lot of singing, playing and having lots of fun! As the session's name suggests, it's Play & Learn. It's where the kids are given the chance to explore, play, socialize, follow simple instructions and tire themselves with 'gym' activities - because ultimately at this stage, they really do learn by playing.

In the video you can see that even those who are not yet proficient in walking are encouraged to really join in the fun by exploring around the area, going up and down slides, passing balls to their classmates, pushing a big plastic log in good old teamwork fashion and sharing toys with others. I'm not sure what this is actually called but maybe the term "structured free play" best applies.

We ended up really tired (from chasing Z) and as I mentioned above, good that it's just a few steps away from my fave food court chains..aaaaahhh!!! I may have eaten my plate too (just kidding!) but when I saw Z, oh was she ever that tired...sleeping na agad!

The following day, I heard Z humming familiar Gymboree songs. It was a good sign for me, at least I know that she remembers and enjoyed the singing part of our first Gymboree play and learn session! :)

Please watch our video below and I hope our little FAQ below will be of help to you. Enjoy! :)




Gymboree-fic Day! from Andrew Lim on Vimeo.

Here are some things you might want to know about enrolling your child in Gymboree:


Gymboree Membership & Class rates

First off, there is a membership fee. The Annual Membership is P2,000 (with 5 GymPlay coupons) while the Lifetime Membership is P4,000 (with 10 GymPlay coupons). Lifetime membership is only until your enrolled child is 5 years of age.

The class rates will depend on how long and how often your child will attend Gymboree for his/her specific level. As of May 2015, Level 4 rates go like this: a once a week for one month will be PHP 3,800. If you want a longer enrollment with a more frequent class schedule like four times a week for 48 weeks, it could cost you PHP 96,000. (Note: These are the rates I got from April 2015, for Level 4 sessions. Best to call up your nearest Gymboree for updated rates).

Schedule

Gymboree offers once, twice, thrice of four times a week schedules. From what I gathered, you can arrive around 15 minutes ahead of schedule so your child can be better acquainted with the new surroundings and have a few minutes of free play before the actual session. 

Do make sure to give them a heads up before going so they can put you on their list.

GymPlay coupons

You use the GymPlay coupons if, as it suggests, you just wish to let your child play inside the premises (guided by the parent/chaperone). Regardless of your Gymboree base, you can use this in their other branches within the country. As of last discussion with them, they don't sell their coupons individually. It really comes with the membership. So again, for 1 year Gymboree membership you get 5 GymPlay coupons and for Lifetime Membership (up to 5 years of age) you get 10 GymPlay coupons.

Note that this does not come with the sessions such as Play & Learn, Music, etc. --> there's a separate fee for that, see below :)

Best time/age to start

I've seen "baby babies" in Gymboree. So just make sure to ask your preferred location on their minimum allowable age. As for us, we agreed to let her go to Gymboree when she can already walk on her own and is at least taking solids. We figured that if we let her start too young, she might just end up sleeping while in Gymboree or she might ask to just be nursed, sayang naman ang bayad :) Another plus to this is that we didn't need to carry her too much and at her age, there is already a bit of retention especially for the songs. 

Activities

Gymboree offers a lot of activities for every age group. At level 3 there are 2 offered classes, at level 4 (16-22 months of age), they have 4! Depending on how frequent you will go, you can even choose 2 different sessions for the week, such as:

   >>Play and Learn 4
    "Children explore patterns and sequences and play with peers during developmental games, while
     you support them to become competent problem solvers."

   >> Music 2
    "A new musical style is introduced each month to expose your child to lots of musical genres -
    Latin, Rock, classical and more."

   >> Art 1 (18-24 months)
    "Unleash your child's imagination in a world of hands-on discovery with our tactile table, songs,
    painting, story time and gentle movements."

   >> Global Kids 1&2 (18-36 months)
    "Let your child discover and explore different cultures through songs, games and art."

It's also nice to know that the teachers change up the activities every two weeks so your child won't get bored :)

What to Wear

Definitely wear comfortable clothes! Expect a lot of walking around, following/chasing after your child and floor activities. Stretchy pants would be good, very fitted skirts might be a bad idea. And remember that adults must wear socks at all times while inside the play area. 

Let your child come in comfy clothing too. As of last time, socks are optional for the kids. Note that the area can get a bit cold sometimes so be ready with a jacket / sweater or just long-sleeved shirts :)

Safety

As you can see from the photo and video, the area is pretty much padded with colorful mats. However, there are very small areas which aren't that's why it's still a must for us parents / guardians to be just near our child. If you decide to let your child wear socks inside the premises, it would be better to use one that has sole grips/rubber. Anyhoo, we are really required to be at arm's reach from our child at all times, just to be safe :)

A Gymboree Birthday Party?

Why of course! Just bring the food and the kids and the Gymboree teachers will take care of a few hours of party fun! As of April 2015, the Gymboree birthday party packages offered are:

   >>Standard Package
    PHP 14,800

   >> Deluxe Package (Gymbo Live!)
    PHP 19,800
    -2 hours of party fun for 20 kids (1 hour of activity on the play floor and 1 hour in the party room)
    -2 fabulous Gymboree teachers to facilitate
    -Gymboree gift for the birthday child
    -Gymbo party supplies (invitations, plates, cups, napkins and balloons)

   >> Music or Arts Party for 12 kids
    PHP 12,000
    -Non-exclusive use of playfloor

So, are you heading off to Gymbo for a preview class? Let me know how it goes, okay? Cheers to playing and learning at the same time! :D



GYMBOREE PLAY & MUSIC MAGNOLIA | Lower GF, Robinson's Magnolia, Aurora Blvd. cor. Hemady St., Quezon City | (0917) 84GYMBO | magnolia@gymboree-ph.com

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