This is my first blog entry for kidsfunlondon.co.uk and I’m really excited to be writing for the site. I want to look at many things across London so if there’s anything specific you’d like reviewed then please do tell me! I’ll welcome any feedback. For this first entry I’m going to focus on SureStart and play groups in the area I live but I will be travelling over the whole of London and visiting many different areas soon. My daughter Florence and I are very excited and we hope you enjoy the tales we bring you from our days out and that it gives you the information you’re after!
I live in Waltham Forest and here we are extremely lucky because there is an abundance of really good playgroups which are either free or very cheap every single day. Today I’m taking my little one to the Davies Lane Playgroup which is held in the old nursery on Davies Lane and is absolutely fabulous! It costs 50p per family regardless of how many children you have with you and includes refreshments for the them. It’s such a lovely group and what’s really great is that they have two sessions one from 9.45am and the other at 1.30pm meaning no matter what your nap times at least one of the sessions should be suitable. As I said, it’s run in the old nursery building so it’s a room completely designed with children in mind, toilets at the right level, sinks at just the right height for a toddler etc. And the best bit of all is that it has its very own access time to the outdoor area which has excellent toys including a great climbing frame and a car track with cars! Indoors there’s painting, messy play, play dough and a water table but if you prefer to keep your little ones clean and dry then there’s plenty of other activities on offer. From indoor climbing frames and ride on toys to dollies and soft play and with a specific area and appropriate toys for very small babies it means the whole family can enjoy it. Everyone is welcome and it’s the perfect place to meet other families. At the end of each session the group leaders hold a rhyme time. I’ve been to many groups and classes and this is certainly one of the best.
Another brilliant Wednesday group in Waltham Forest is the Over One’s club hosted by Louise from Acacia children’s Centre in the Cann Hall Baptist Church on Cann Hall Road. This is a two hour session from 9.30am and is pretty similar in content to the Davies Lane Group only this one is completely free! It’s a SureStart project; something I am really passionate about as SureStart includes every family regardless of income. For the new mother I really can’t express how important I feel these SureStart groups are but we need to get in quick and enjoy them while we can as cuts are being made right left and centre. Indeed this group also used to have an afternoon session but due to cuts in funding has had to operate in the morning only, what a shame!
Like I said, Waltham Forest has loads of great groups not just the two I’ve talked about and most of them are run from children’s centres. The Davies Lane Centre also runs a rhyme time and Acacia and Snowberry run messy plays, under ones clubs, rhyme times, under fives clubs and other services such as knit out loud and baby massage and they’re not the only two children’s centres near to me. We also have the luxury of being able to use facilities at Barclay Children’s centre who offer a full timetable including classes for Mums (with crèche places while you do the class) which are very affordable. To find out more about children’s centre’s near you log onto your borough’s website and you should be able to find a list. Alternatively your local health visitors should be able to direct you to your nearest one and provide you with more information on the types of things they offer. It’s also worth knowing that most of them offer a Dad’s group on Saturdays!
There is so much support with SureStart right from when you have a newborn baby and up until they go to school, it’s well worth looking into them! For play groups not run by children’s centre’s good places to look are local church’s and Salvation Army centres. I know that in Leytonstone we have two churches and both of them hold play groups, one on a Monday, the other on Thursdays and the Salvation Army centre in lower Leytonstone also host a group twice weekly. These sorts of groups are held all over London, they may not be big, shiny and expensive but they’re stimulating fun for the children and a cup of tea and chat is always welcome for me!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about SureStart and other groups in my area, they type of things that should be reflected all over London so use our facilities and events search on our homepage to find something similar near you. If you’d like to read up on the other activities we’ve been up to recently in London then have a look at my blog http://rocknrollerbaby.livejournal.com This week I will be submitting an entry on Friday reviewing ‘Discover’ in Stratford, an interactive play and story centre for children.