What is your role at Tumble Tots?
I am the Technical Director which means that I am responsible for the content in our programme including any development. Normally I would visit our franchisees across the country and help ensure they are delivering classes so that every little one gets the best experience possible. However, due to lockdown, you may have seen me live on Facebook delivering digital classes!
How and when did you first get involved with Tumble Tots?
I got involved with Tumble Tots over 10 years ago after I had finished my university degree in English Literature. I began as the Technical Co-ordinator, working under the Technical Director who was taught by the person who created Tumble Tots. A lot
of what I know has been passed down to me but I also ran classes for a nearby franchise which was a great way to learn and fully understand Tumble Tots.
What do you enjoy the most?
Personally, my favourite part, and I think most franchisees would agree, is seeing little ones grow and develop. I don’t get to see that as much now but when I was live we had so many children who watched everyday and it was great to hear how they had improved over 6 months of taking part at home.
How many Tumble Tots at Home classes did you present?
I was live every weekday from 18th March until 28th August and in total did 134(ish) classes including 13 baby lessons, 8 action song specials, 7 Gymbobs, 5 festival days, 2 takeovers and 1 special singalong on the Gloworm Festival Facebook page to mark what
should have been their 5th anniversary.
How difficult was it to set up Tumble Tots at Home so quickly after the classes were postponed?
I came up with the idea quite quickly and started live sessions two days after we announced classes were postponed. Setting up in my living room didn’t take much time either and wasn’t hard to do, but it’s great to have my living room back to normal!
What was the first class like?
I was really nervous for the first class and we had a few technical glitches but I was so happy that so many people joined in! We had a massive 387 likes, 260 comments, 259 shares and 23,000 views for the first live and this kept growing. The highest number of views for one of our live sessions was an incredible 83,000!
What type things did you learn as the classes developed?
After a few classes, I soon got into the swing of things, gained confidence and got a better idea of what our audience wanted and needed. I experimented with different themes, focusses and challenges to keep the classes engaging but what we learned most is that this is a great way to bring classes into people’s homes, not just during lockdown, but in the future for children who might not have classes in their area, so watch this space!
How did your previous experience help?
Knowing the programme inside and out helped massively and meant that I didn’t have too much to plan every day and didn’t even have to rehearse (which was also a big time saver). Obviously there were some days that things didn’t go to plan and I had to improvise! Last year I earned my Masters in Child Development which has also helped with other aspects such as impact on emotional and well-being and better understanding the correlation between physical activity and brain development.
What has the reaction from members been like?
We’ve had a really positive response which we are so pleased about. Lots of parents have commented on how it’s kept their little ones happy, active and entertained throughout lockdown and given them something to look forward to as well as bringing a sense of normality, especially for our members who were missing classes.
Why is Tumble Tots still so well-known after 40 years?
I think we are well-known because we have been going for 40 years and parents that bring their little ones remember coming as children themselves and know how much fun it was. It may sound biased, but I think that going for this long just proves not only how good our classes are but how timeless they are as well as how physical activity will always be really important for child development.
Why do you think the programme is so important for children?
The core of our programme is developing physical skills but every child takes something different away from classes. For some children, this is their first encounter with others of their age which helps them to socialise. Taking part in a structured class helps them learn how to take turns and be patient. Children also learn songs and repeat them which helps with language and memory. All our activities stimulate brain development which is
also really important.
How does early years activity benefit children when they start school?
Teachers have told me that they know the difference between children who have attended Tumble Tots and those who haven’t. Our classes help children learn to listen and follow instructions from a grown-up who isn’t their parent, which is what they need to do when they start school to be able to be taught effectively.
What are the most important skills children acquire at the Tumble Tots classes?
There are so many benefits that I don’t think we can say what the most important skill is however most parents say that coming to classes improves their little ones confidence which will help them in all aspects of life.
What type of things have you learnt over the years regards the range of benefits children get from physical activity as a baby?
We’ve always known that physical activity is beneficial for children’s physical health, but overtime, from external research and studies, we have learned that physical activity also helps with their emotional well-being, cognitive development, and other physical skills that we don’t directly include in classes. For example, fine motor skill development can only come about once gross motor skills are improved, so crawling will eventually help children with their handwriting skills.