Little Sprouts is a bilingual English and French Playgroup welcoming children between 15 months and three and a half years in the center of Uccle.
We offer morning sessions, from 8:30am to 12pm, as well as full days until 4:30pm.
There are up to ten children per session led by one French and one English speaking teacher. We try to balance each group in terms of age in order to provide optimal opportunities for interaction between children.
We offer a weekly music workshop with a music teacher from Les Ateliers de la Chaise Musicale, as well as other workshops with specialised teachers, such as theatre, movement and storytelling throughout the year.
The playgroup occupies the ground floor of a typical Brussels townhouse and has direct access to an outdoor play area. The playroom is bright and airy and the furniture and play equipment has been carefully selected to allow children the opportunity to play, discover and experiment autonomously.
The objective of the playgroup and the activities we propose is twofold.
As a bilingual playgroup, our program is designed to familiarise children with a second language. Many activities are done in parallel in the two languages in order to allow the acquisition of the keys to the second language. Our educators interact on an individual basis with each child according to their language needs.
Our activities are also designed for the general social, physical and cognitive development of the children independent of the bilingual aspect.
Above all, and for the two objectives above to be successful, we believe the activities we propose and the time the children spend at playgroup have to be a fun and enjoyable and positive experience.
Playgroup often represents the first separation of children from their primary caretaker. We believe that at this stage it is important that children be in small group settings, with a high teacher to child ration allowing teachers to respond to each child’s individual physical, psychological, and cognitive needs and make playgroup a successful and positive experience upon which they can build when they start school.
We recognise that each child is a unique individual and develops intellectually, socially, and physically at their own pace. We observe each child and respond to their specific needs, proposing materials and activities that correspond to their current interests and phase of development.
Playgroup is also a place where children start to learn to be with others and start developing their social skills. We propose a variety of games and activities that encourage interaction and cooperation among children. As children start to discover the fun of being with and playing with others, and making friends, they also learn about taking turns, sharing (when appropriate), negotiating and resolving conflicts.
Children learn by doing, experimenting and watching others. We propose open ended activities, materials and settings, allowing children to play, experiment, interact in their own way and at their own pace. We use play dough, paint, glue, sand, grains, water and a variety of other materials in our explorations. The process is always open and directed by the child; the goal is always the process, the experience and sensations and not the final product.
We believe letting children do things for themselves fosters confidence and a sense of achievement. We create opportunities, support and encourage children on their path to autonomy.
Each playgroup session is organised around two activities: circle time and the daily workshop. A theme is introduced every few weeks (for example transportation, seasons, food); activities and workshops are developed around the theme.
Circle time is focused on language development and socialisation. In addition of the routines of circle-time, such as greeting each other, singing our ‘hello song’, talking about the weather, etc. New vocabulary words are introduced each week through stories, games songs, action-songs, etc.
Each day a different workshop, in keeping as much as possible with the current theme, is proposed. In these workshops we explore and experiment, we touch and feel, we squash and squeeze, we shake and rattle, we build and wreck, we splat and drizzle, we weigh, we mix, we match, we create, we observe, we learn. We learn with our hands and our bodies new words, new concepts, new ideas.
A healthy snack is served to the children around 10:30. This is usually made up of a selection of fruit and a baked good, cracker or rice-cake. Organic milk and water are also served.
There are a variety of toys, as well as a large selection of books accessible to the children at all times.
In addition, specific activities or games, for example a sand or water table activity or a block activity, are set out during each free-play period.
Children are never forced to participate in the structured activities; if the activity does not interest them, we propose another activity, toy or game for them to do individually.
8:30 - 9:30 Drop-off/ Free Play
In addition to the regular toys found in the classroom, we set out new toys, games or activities for the children to discover as they arrive.
The children join in to help tidy the room
9:30 - 10:00 Circle Time
Hello Song - We greet each other, we chat about the weather…we sing our favorite songs. We introduce the current theme, and read books, play games, sing songs in relation to the theme.
10:00 - 10:30 Free Play/ Toilet and diaper change
Various free-play stations are set out: water and sand table, manipulation games, blocks, puzzles, etc.
10:30 - 11:00 Snack
The children wash their hands and help themselves to the snack. They pour their own water or milk from the jugs set out for them. When finished, the children wash their dishes in the sink and set them on the dish-rack to dry.
11:00 - 11:45 Workshop
Each day a different workshop, in keeping as much as possible with the current theme, is proposed. These include painting, music, cooking, sensory trays, exploration of materials, etc.
11:45 - 12:00 Quiet Time
We read books, listen to music and quiet down. We say good-bye to the children leaving for the day.
12:00 Pick-up for Morning Session
12:00 - 15:00
Lunch and Nap Time
15:00 - 16:00
Group games and activities
16:30 - 16:30 Free play/ Pick-up for Full Day session
While adults are able to learn a language abstractly, by memorising, and learning and applying rules, children learn a language concretely through exposure, absorption and trial and error.
For those children unfamiliar with French or English, Little Sprouts provides the first exposure to the new language and its melody.
The child will get accustomed and familiar with the sounds of the new language, and start picking up vocabulary. Once the concept of a word is acquired by the child (the meaning of apple, for example), learning to say the word in the new language is easy.
Children also pick up common, complete sentences that have a particular meaning for them(I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, etc.), and thus start to integrate the structure of the new language.
Children who already have some knowledge of French or English, will be able to build on that knowledge and acquire new words and concepts as well as have the opportunity to put their language skills into practice.
When starting playgroup, each child is assigned one of the teachers as a ‘reference’ person based on the language the child is most familiar with. This allows the child to feel reassured and understood at all times.
Teachers lead activities and address children in their own language: French or English.
During circle time new words and concepts are introduced in English and French. We propose parallel activities, for example, reading the same story or singing the same song in French and English. We also introduce the new French and English vocabulary through images, actions and objects.
The child’s language skills are built upon throughout the session by interaction with the teacher and other children and especially the workshop, where the words introduced during circle time are reinforced in a practical and tactile manner.