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Week 2 : Hamba Bamba Funda's Early Childhood Development Pilot Project

Clear blue skies greeted us as we packed the car this week, even if it was a little chilly. In addition to our usual equipment there was some more stock for the shop.

With the weather better the expectation was that everyone would turn up on time this week.

Although a little late one by one the mothers of both groups arrived and the theme for this week was again connect with your baby. After the 5 minute relax in silence Monja then talked about other ways of connecting.

Recapping from last week she asked all the ladies if they had practiced what they had learned. Those who had, noticed a difference in their baby. Both groups were then asked to look at their children and notice three things about them, “this is another good way of connecting” pointed out Monja.

“she is looking at me as though she knows me”

“she is talking”

“Austin rolls from the back to the tummy” which he did as his mother mentioned this, a huge milestone for his age.

Both groups then practiced the tapping and squeezing on their children. Taking “Princess” on her back from the 1st group she started to rub her chest then taking her legs she started to bend them and the ankles, taking the knees to the chest, then planting each foot one at a time into the ground whilst talking all the time, telling the baby what she was doing. “your children are interested and aware of what you are doing” comments Monja.

Next the mothers from both groups started tapping and squeezing each other’s arms. All noticed various sensations in their bodies where they had been touched “now you can understand what your children are experiencing when you are touching and squeezing them” remarked Monja “I encourage you to do this every day, it is an important part of early childhood development”

The 1st group now laid their babies on the floor in front of them and used rattles again to attract attention, therefore stimulate.

Some now began to get a little restless and cried. Monja now asked the mothers to stand, cradle the babies with arms outstretched in an inverted V shape, clasping their hands together with the infants sitting with backs against the mother’s chest. Now all were encouraged to start stomping their feet rhythmically. In a circle they then stomped towards each other “so the babies can see each other” then the baby’s feet touched “now they can feel each other” points out Monja. “the vibrations they feeling from the stomping calms them down” concludes Monja. This most certainly had the desired effect and some normality returned to the room “see, you do not have to breast feed just to keep the babies quiet” exclaimed Monja.

Using a doll, Monja started showing how to map the face. Touching the doll then the children’s face she showed where the nose, mouth, lips, tongue and cheeks were, mentioning each part as it was touched. “this is so important to stimulate the mouth” mentions Monja “it is important for speaking and eating”

Monja now noticed one of the mothers roughly picking up her child and plonking it on their feet. “all children need to be treated as human beings, not like a doll” explains Monja, “at this age they are only ready to stand once they can sit properly”, one of the mothers then said “but he wants to stand”, “no you want him to stand, you make him” replies Monja.

In the crossed leg position she takes the doll and horizontally places the head on the inside of her thigh, with the legs overlapping the other thigh, cradling the doll in her lap “this position with give the spine a curve therefore flexibility, to strengthen the spine more the baby needs plenty of tummy time, otherwise they will become stiff before they can sit, then only stand”

To conclude, the 1st group played with tennis balls and building blocks until it was time for the 3 minutes of silence.

“paying attention to how you hold your baby and transition your baby is an important for a healthy development” concludes Monja.

As the blocks and balls were already out the 2nd group started playing with them. “games develop learning” points out Monja “they also learn through curiosity, give them plenty of things to do”. After a while the children were playing games amongst themselves, taking a cup and placing a ball or block inside, turning it upside down or making a throwing action to remove it. Next the mothers and children were making towers out of the blocks, there seemed to be a competition to see who could make the tallest. Monja asked each mother to think of a game that could be played in the session next week.

After a while again the children became restless so some singing ensued, bringing the familiar calm after.

As the session was coming to a conclusion Monja asked the mothers what they noticed different in their babies from the beginning “the children have become calmer and more present” was the general consensus of opinion “that is because you are more active and are interacting with your babies” pointed out Monja “you are engaging and they are reacting to your stimulus”

As a prelude to the 3 minutes relax in silence the children played one final game, packing away the toys that had been played with during the morning.

free playing is an essential part of a child’s development it allows for creativity to develop” concludes Monja.

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