Ask people their favorite nursery rhyme, and they’ll rattle off a verse that’s short, melodic, often funny and coupled with body movements. These very qualities are precisely why nursery rhymes are a great way to entertain and bond with your children. Australian/Canadian Helen Robertson discovered a Parent-Child Mother Goose Program in Canada, with her son, now 4. When she and her husband moved to Beijing two years ago, Robertson, who saw how much joy these rhymes brought her child and other parents, took a training course and began the Beijing program in 2008.
This parent-child program focuses on the oral tradition of nursery rhymes and songs as a way of connecting with children. It differs from other musical programs because Robertson and the Mother Goose program direct their teaching at parents – at the end of one session (ten weeks), parents will have many rhymes on hand to entertain. “You can sing these songs with your children on an airplane, in a queue, in a taxi. These rhymes will just pop into your head,” says Robertson, who has two children. The name of the program, Circle of the Sun, is a lyric from one of Robertson’s favorite rhymes.
Each class lasts one hour and includes several lap rhymes (where kids sit in their parents’ lap), stand-up rhymes that get kids jumping around, and rhymes that make each child feel special, such as welcome and goodbye songs that incorporate each child’s name. After half an hour, the class breaks for a snack, which is also the perfect chance for parents to mingle. “I deliberately schedule the snack break in the middle of class. Back in Canada, the snack was always at the end of the class, so everyone would leave and no one would mingle,” says Robertson, who finds that new parents are greatly helped by a network of other parents. After snack time, Robertson’s helpers take the children to play in another room and she spends the next 15 minutes teaching parents new nursery rhymes. One final storytelling and nursery rhyme session with the children concludes the session.
"The classes are short, but very good. My daughter likes playing and dancing – she also seems to listen more,” says Caroline Chaumas, mother of 20-month-old Mathilde.
The fee per child is RMB 200 for a ten-week session (which covers the rent of the classroom). Although Robertson also works at the Canadian embassy, she makes time to teach the class for free. “I really love it. It’s something that helps people and it’s fun. It’s a gift I can give people and it’s really needed in a place like this where it’s so important to connect with other people,” says Robertson.
For registration and details, contact Helen Robertson on 135 2020 4707 or e-mail email@example.com. Registration before each 10-week session is required – classes fill up quickly.
Baby Program: Wednesdays, 1.30-2.45pm
Toddler program: Wednesdays, 10-11am
RMB 200 for ten-week session
2/F, East Lake Villas Clubhouse
Dong Hu Bieshu
35 Dongzhimenwai Dajie
Nov 18, 2009-Jan 27, 2010 (no classes on Dec 23-Jan 6)
Registration is required.
Photos by Judy Zhou