You don’t need to convince me that play is an important part of childhood and that it’s integral to a child’s growth and development. I’m all for play and more physical activity, especially these days. And since options are pretty limited when it comes to playing outdoors, I’m a big fan of indoor kiddie play areas, like the one in malls.
I’ve been wanting to try a kind of play class for Akira to help her get better acquainted with other children and to minimize dull downtime at home where it’s too easy to pass the day away glued on Youtube. I also think it’s a small yet good start for what’s to come when she goes to school – that she gets used to the idea that there’s a teacher in a class, she guides the kids, and you pretty much follow what she says, but you’re still having a great, fun time.
We signed Akira up for ClubBambino’s Balancers class, and it helped address those concerns. On her second visit, Akira can already say ‘Bambino’, and she always lights up when we tell her we are going there – that’s how much she likes it there. I’m seriously considering going for a twice-a-week package now that we had our last class today.
ClubBambino is a kids’ gym and play area. It focuses on physical fitness and encourages kids to be active while having fun. They have four kinds of classes – for Crawlers, Walkers, Balancers and Runners – that are suitable according to your child’s fitness level.
Akira technically belongs in the Walkers class since she’s 2 years old, but after seeing her play on opening day and on a trial class about a month ago, we were advised that she’s more suited for the Balancers class. According to ClubBambino:
“The Balancers Class introduces structure, listening, and comprehension skills in preparation for children to go on their own at the next level. Children also participate in a full program of exercise, games, and songs on their own if possible.”
On a first visit, the place might seem small, but with a class, the space is really maximized. I think there was only one time when there were around 6 children in Akira’s class plus their adult companions, but it was still comfortable.
ClubBambino opened only last October, so rest assured that materials and toys are still in great shape. Everything is in good working order.
The kid needs an adult with her during a Bambino class, but other guests can stay on the side of the play area. The adult – preferably a parent but can also be a yaya or a relative – is needed to assist the kid and should also participate, so that the kids are more comfortable and more open to trying the activities.
Classes don’t follow the same program each time. They try other approaches or other activities, and really take into consideration the readiness and eagerness of the children. There are some activities that can be considered ‘challenging’, but there’s never any pressure on the child to perform. For instance, one day the kids are asked to walk across planks of varying widths. The next time, they are asked to walk across a plank but they need to pick up objects or walk over objects as they cross. It’s a nice challenge for the kids.
With Akira, there are some tricky activities where she would insist that I assist her, but on the next tries, she’s more willing to try them by herself. It’s play that’s a bit more structured.
What’s great also is that they break these sessions up with ‘just play’ moments, like a couple of minutes on the swings or the rocking horses, or just popping bubbles. An hour for such a class seems just about right, too.
Overall, our experience has been wonderful, in spite of the two times that Akira and another kid ran into each other and she cried, hehe. The place is clean, safe and pleasant, and Teacher Rose and the coaches are friendly and accommodating. The coaches are particularly perky, always ready for class and the children.
On the down side, I find the classes a bit expensive – a monthly package of 4 classes is at P4,500. It includes free open gym time, which means your kid can come in on times that there are no classes to just play, and a free slot for motherhood or parenting talks that ClubBambino sponsors every once in a while. On occasion, ClubBambino also has special themed classes, such as the recent Chinese New Year classes they had that was more arts and crafts, and with a package you are entitled to a discount for that class. These are all great perks, but we were not able to take advantage of them.
We missed the Chinese New Year special class, and there were no talks scheduled. We’re not from BF but we live in the south, but even then, ClubBambino isn’t exactly that accessible for us.
I have nothing concrete to report, where say, I’ve noticed a remarkable change in my child where she is more confident or more at ease towards others. If I ask that silly girl if she likes this certain kid, or if this certain kid from Bambino is her friend, she’d actually say ‘no’.
That’s just my kid being silly, but I do think it’s fostering a healthy interest towards physical activity, and she is enjoying herself, and that matters a lot to me. I’m not looking for a concrete or tangible difference like that in her anyway. At the least, she is off her butt and we’re not swiping money away at an arcade.
I want this to continue. We’re not exactly a household that bans handheld devices, so a play class helps a lot in maintaining that balance between screen time and physical activity. The Bambino Balancers class became this nice routine – my kid is growing wonderfully, she is having fun, and we’d have an occasional ice cream or Chicken Joy afterwards. We’re BOTH happy.
Go try a play class!
If there’s an establishment similar to ClubBambino in your area, do visit and see the teachers and facilities for yourself. Also important, schedule a trial class. It’s free most of the time, and it’s a great way for assessing how your kid responds to the class as well as the teachers to assess which kind of class would be more suitable for your kid.
Places like ClubBambino are usually airconditioned, but just in case, a change of clothing and a towel would be nice to have, as well as some drinking water. Try not have your kid come to class after a full meal, too.
For families in the south looking for a play option for your kid, especially the ones who live in BF and the nearby residential areas, do consider ClubBambino Kids Gym. They’re at 330 Noah’s Place Aguirre Ave. cor Tehran St. BF Homes Parañaque. You can call at (02) 801 5997 & (0917) 833 4730 or visit their Facebook page for more information.