Julia Gabriel Open House

Julia Gabriel is very popular among Singapore mums. I was seriously thinking of transferring Babe from The Blue House Infant and Toddler Atelier to Julia Gabriel because I think it is almost time for her to learn something "properly" as she approaches her one-year old birthday.

I love the Blue House, it is beautiful, which is one of the crucial element for Reggio Emilia methodology.

Babe exploring some books at The Blue House Infant and Toddler Atelier (25 Jan 2016).

And I love the free exploratory and child-led inquiry concept, which I believe it will become more crucial in this new age of information explosion. It is what one do with the information, instead of the ability to memorize information, that determine one's ability to cope in the future.

However, as a Singapore kiasu mum, it is very difficult for me to watch my kid just to "play the day away". Isn't she suppose to start learning something?

So when Julia Gabriel offers free trial class during their open day, I registered immediately, fully certain that I will signed up on that day to enjoy their special Open House offer. (Spoiler: I didn't.)


Anyway, back to Julia Gabriel Open House.

The session started with Sing Along, which took place outside the classroom at the waiting areas. I suspect this is an additional portion as I read from other blogs that Julia Gabriel lesson typically starts with Free Play.

The Sing Along was fun. I learnt quite a few new moves that accompany the popular nursery rhymes. I guess that's why Julia Gabriel is famous for their drama elements.

After the Sing Along, we are ushered into our classroom for Free Play.

The room is divided into two areas. One has two tables with low chairs for art and snacks, another is padded with floor mat where all other activities, except for outdoor play, take place.

Julia Gabriel Playnest activity area.

As you can see from the photos, the activity area is filled by bright colors with toys scattered everywhere. There are plenty of toys to go around, no need to fight.

Babe enjoying her free play.

After Free Play is Circle Time, where more songs (together with more movements) were sung. There is 1 teacher with 2 assistants in a playgroup of maximum 14 children, each accompanied by 1 adult. There is just enough space for each of us, provided the child doesn't roam. Then again, this is not a roaming/exploring class.

Babe crawling towards the teachers during Circle Time. 

Then, the teachers brought out 2 puppet lambs for Puppet Time. The teachers went around to each children with the lamb, asking for food from the children. They are very good with the puppets. Needless to say, this is a big hit with Babe as she LOVES soft toys. She literally followed the lambs around until it is her turn to feed it.

Babe tailgating the puppet lamb... until it is her turn to play with it. 

Mama, I got MY LAMB! 

There is a short Say Hello session after the puppet, which I find it awkward as the class has been running for a while.

The teachers then took out a BIG BOOK for Story Time. I can't remember the title and frankly speaking, I was totally lost during this session. The book, although is big, is quite far away from us. And the story line doesn't make sense. All I got was berry and bear.

I remember I was thinking to myself, " How would Babe understand this while I can't understand it myself?!".

But maybe it doesn't matter, she seems to enjoy it nevertheless.

Story time with a BIG BOOK. 

After some Googling, I found out the book they were reading that day was Jamberry by Bruce Degan (See the Youtube video below). No wonder I was lost, even the words used doesn't make sense at all.

Following the berry book, the teachers took out a Magic Box, which contains the items for Art Activities that day: 1 paper basket, 1 paper strawberry, 1 paper blueberry, 1 paper raspberry.

A Paper Basket from the Magic Box (with 3 curious onlookers). 

We are supposed to peel off the double-sided tape on the back of the fruits and paste them on the basket. Well the problem is, the time given was so short that the art session is over before Babe was settled down. So the end result is a rushy art work done by her mum. 

Babe busy looking at other people doing their art. 

The Snacks and Outdoor Play portions were skipped during the Open House. So we progressed to the last item in the session: Songs and Goodbye. 

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars was sung with light dimming on and off. Bubbles were blown. And Goodbyes were said. 


Overall, I find the delivering of music, movement and expression is really good, which is in line with what Julia Gabriel is famous for. I can see that Babe is really enjoying the songs and puppets.

On the other hand, I find the class a bit too structured. Okay, I knew I was looking for something more structural for Babe. But it reminds me a lot of Kindergarten with scheduled singing, puppet, reading, art activities that runs like clock-work. I find that young kids are not following too well. Perhaps I am too used to Reggio-type of "feel free to explore as much as you can"?

Another concern I have for exposing her to a Kindergarten-like structure so early is that she might get bored of it when it is time for her to enter Kindergarten. Why spoil the fun?

Moreover, PlayNest (for 6-18 months) runs twice a week, which I find it too intense.

So, I decided to put Julia Gabriel on hold for now. I will probably consider it again once Babe hits 18 months when she can join their once a week PlayClub. 

First published on 16 March 2016.


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