Having a baby and toddler is a blessing but it of course comes with its challenges. Through this pandemic, the difficulties have manifested for everyone so it’s no wonder parents are stressed and anxious.
It is common to feel overwhelmed trying to care for a baby and a toddler and what gets most people through, is being part of a community of other new parents so you can discuss sleeping, feeding and any worries as well as laugh at all the shared funny experiences that you have.
The impact that Covid-19 will have on mental health is still to be discussed but what is known is that there is a lack of support through interaction with others. This combined with parents having to juggle work and other commitments, it truly is a difficult time for many.
The Dragons’ Den backed franchise Razzamataz Theatre Schools launched its Early Years classes as a result of the demand for more activities for younger children and their parents to do together. Classes start at just six months and are aligned to early years social and emotional development. This means that during the classes, the children get involved in sensory play, creative learning and interactive experiences, which will help to support their individual milestones. But as well as the benefits to the child, the classes have provided a sanctuary for parents to meet up to share experiences and create memories.
With the closure of schools, nurseries and play centres, Razzamataz made the decision to take their classes online, to provide the social interaction that has been missing. In order to do this, the classes have been kept to limited numbers to allow teachers to give one to one time and a respite for busy parents.
“In much the same way in which you would go to a class with your baby and young child, these classes have been structured so the teacher can engage with each student so the parent can be confident that we will keep the child’s attention,” says Denise Hutton-Gosney, MD and Founder of Razzamataz. “The aim of the class is to give parents a respite and a chance to have quality time with their child. We won’t be asking them to buy in lots of additional toys or equipment, everything that we use in the class are just common household items because we understand that parents don’t have the time to be prepping for each class.”
As well as enjoying the activities where the children are brought into an exciting adventure in performing arts, there will be time at the end of the session for parents to interact and feel less alone. The classes have only just rolled out and already the feedback has been hugely positive as a parent at Razzamataz Sutton Coldfield explains: “Thank you and can’t express the gratitude I have for you and Razzamataz and being so ‘on it’ at this time. As a single mum in a one-bedroom flat you’ve been an absolute life saver of Isiah’s and mine’s mental health.”
To keep families going through the week, the teacher will set little activities that they can work on and show in class, giving the children a strong focus and provide some structure, which is very much missing at the moment for many people. “We really miss our Tiny Tots classes with Tara, I am looking forward to breaking up the week, having some fun and being a part of a group again,” says mum from Razzamataz Tyrone. “Sharing our experiences with each other now being at home with young children will be a nice change during these strange times.”
For some parents, taking the classes online has given them the flexibility to be part of their child’s exciting performing arts journey as a Razzamataz Tots mum in Omagh, Northern Ireland explains: “As a teacher, I haven’t had the opportunity to attend classes with my daughter as she normally goes with her granny. I am looking forward to experiencing the class with her myself now with the new online classes, she can’t wait to see Tara and Razz Ted again.”
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As well as the regular classes, there will be some special additional opportunities including fitness classes that parents can join in with too. Many of the schools are also going live on Facebook with fun activities such as quizzes, drama games and bedtime reading.
The online classes will replicate a real class as much as possible, with dedicated time throughout so children and their parents can ask questions to teachers, connect with their classmates and become confident performers on screen. For parents, there is a pay as you go option, with no monthly commitment or direct debit so families can dip in and out depending on their circumstances. The classes are open to existing and new students.