Kindergym is a multi-movement based program designed specifically for children 5yrs and under and their caregiver.
The program promotes the development of the whole child – physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively, in a safe, structured, multi-sensory environment, indoors.
Learning through play in a stimulating, non-competitive environment assists children to develop to their full potential in readiness for kindergarten, school and sports.
Each session is directed towards empowering your child with the skills and confidence to hang and swing, spin, balance, skip, climb, throw, crawl and jump. It helps to provide the foundations for a lifetime of positive attitudes towards physical activity. While having fun, children learn to move and move to learn.
So what do you do at Kindergym?
The program generally involves a group warm up session at the beginning with exercises to songs, then it’s free time for play and exploration on all the equipment, ending with another group time as a cooling down session with a few more songs.
I have attended Kindergym with both my kids over the years and we have thoroughly enjoyed this great program. Below is a bit more information about Unley Kindergym where we have attended. Please note that other Kindergyms may vary in routines and structure, are different in size and have different facilities and equipment.
The pictures above show the big front room at Unley where you can leave strollers, shoes and bags along the side. All children must have shoes and socks off for safety. The play equipment gets changed around every week to make things interesting. For example the big U-shaped swing below is sometimes a bucket seat swing while other times it’s trapeze rings with a run up ramp (my son’s favourite). The toys and activities change to match the current themes for the term and involve the children in all sorts of different skills, helping them develop their fine and gross motor skills and encourage problem solving.
The middle room is used for group time, where there is singing and movement to favourite nursery rhymes and children’s songs often using fun props.
This middle room is an open space for children to also play in during free play time.
The back room is another large play area with a big trampoline and as you can see, more equipment to climb, balance, swing, ride, jump, hang and play in.
The little kitchen room – is an area where kids can ‘do some cooking’ and pretend play with toy food.
Each week, the ‘foods’ change in here – sometimes there are cookies or cupcakes, other times there are sandwiches to make, or fruit and vegetables to cut up, as well as cups of tea to pour and share.
Even though we have many of these toys at home, this room has always been the first place my son likes to visit during free play. He loves to discover what’s in the kitchen each week.
Children respond well to the routines at Kindergym. When you arrive you collect a name tag for your child and yourself at the front desk from either Jayne or Joy depending on the day. These lovely ladies will also have your child’s Kindergym stamp/sticker book. You can play in the front room until Judith, the Kindergym Leader, rings a little bell to signal that it’s group time.
Children quickly learn the routine that the first thing they do when they enter this room is to post their book into the little red Post Office box.
Usually the streamers or musical instruments come out during Group time and we Shake our Sillies Out. This is a favourite too. There are usually songs which involve getting up and moving around the room with lots of actions like Here Comes a Bear as well as ones like Heads & Shoulders, Incy Wincy Spider, Galumph Went the Little Green Frog, Twinkle Twinkle or This Little Piggy Went to Market. You may recognise some of the songs from Play School or The Wiggles.
Then it’s off for free play where your child can explore all the rooms and experience the vast amount of equipment and activities available.
The bell will ring again for the second Group time where there are a couple more songs and then Judith hands out everyone’s sticker book where magically, while we were playing, a new stamp or sticker has appeared.
I must say that it has always amazed me how the very clever Judith manages to remember every child’s name to hand them their book – without looking at their name tag (which is on their backs, so she can’t see them). In all the years I have been going to Kindergym with both my children I have never once heard Judith make a mistake with a child’s name. With some sessions of about 20 kids and several sessions a day throughout the week, that’s A LOT of children to remember, but she manages to remember them all..and their carer’s name…and often their sibling’s names too!! I am totally in awe of this. Between my daughter leaving Kindergym after she began pre-school to my son beginning here, there was probably a good 2 year gap, yet she remembered us still when I returned!
If it is somebody’s Birthday we will all sing Happy Birthday. And then we end the session with The Wiggles, Rock-A-Bye Your Bear, at the end of which most of the children lie down and pretend to be asleep. They get great pleasure in waking up once we pound the floors with our hands and say “Wake Up Bears” a couple of times. The last song to say good-bye is It’s Shoe Time, It’s Shoe Time to signal that it’s time to put our shoes on and go home. Before we leave though, every child gets a stamp – one on the left hand and one on the right foot.
Unley also has a great coffee shop in the foyer where there is a play area and tables and chairs for you to enjoy a snack with a cup of tea or coffee.
There are magazines to read or you can socialise with others from your class before or after your session.
There are biscuits and treats all priced very reasonably. It all goes to help fund this non profit organisation which only receives funding from fees and fundraising.
Session times are divided by age of children and the program operates during school term. Sessions are about 1 hour (may vary between clubs). Fees are paid per term and cost varies amongst the Kindergyms. Bookings are essential as there are often waiting lists for sessions. You can find out more information from the Kindergym section of the Gymnastics SA website here. Please click here to see some links to the Kindergyms who currrently have a website.
Click here to see a list of all the Kindergym clubs in SA with phone numbers and locations.
Be warned though – my children are now seriously little monkeys and do circus tricks on the swing set, scale our 6 ft back fence without a care, skip 2 bars on the monkey bars often with callouses on hands. They do kindly warn me though with “Mummy, don’t look, we’re going to do something scary!”
When: During School Term
Where: Kindergym Clubs all over SA
Who: 0-5 years with carers