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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tyler's First Schooling Experience | Julia Gabriel Centre's PlayNest Programme

Hello hello! Welcome to Tyler's first day of school! :')

I'm very excited to share Tyler's first school experience with you, simply because I feel it's just too adorable and precious! Some backstory before we begin.

A couple of months ago I was invited by Julia Gabriel Centre Kuala Lumpur to give Tyler a go for their weekday and weekend PlayNest programme classes! I was pleasantly surprised because first of all, I never thought that there would be a class specially tailored for infants aged 6-18 months! Secondly, I've heard lots of awesome stuff from Audrey (fourfeetnine) and other Dayre moms about Julia Gabriel's programmes, so I was more than excited to jump at this opportunity to let Tyler participate in their Playnest programme, and also for me to sit in as a parent and experience the classes myself! I was honestly eager to find out what's the awesome thing about this school that all the moms are raving about!

The day finally arrived and Tyler joined the classes at 7 months old. The first class that we attended was a weekday class from 9am-10.30am at the Bangsar branch (they are opening another branch in Mont Kiara at the end of 2016!). Tyler normally wakes up around 10-11am cos he sleeps about the same time as us, usually close to midnight. So I was half-expecting him to be cranky throughout the class since it was technically still his bedtime!

Boon and I were scheming on how to gently wake him up, dress him and get him to school in a good mood. But to our relief, he somehow woke up himself at 8am in a very good mood! #YESSSS Quickly got him dressed and put him in his car seat, where he fell asleep halfway cos I think he was actually still sleepy hahaha.

This sweetheart <3
Oh, if you're wondering why Tyler was in a Baju Melayu, it's because we were asked to dress him up in either Baju Melayu or green outfits, in conjunction with the Raya celebration in school! For every PlayNest class, the babies will be asked to come in specific coloured clothing cos they learn of a new color in every class! This is because this term's theme is on Colours, hence why! The theme changes every term, and by this kids get to focus and learn one thing at a time, but various things throughout the year!

And this is how Julia Gabriel Centre Kuala Lumpur looks like from the outside! If you frequent Bangsar a lot I'm sure you would have passed by before! Photo taken from Julia Gabriel's official website ( cos I was too excited to take pictures inside that I forgot to take from the outside -.-

Julia Gabriel Centre is part of Julia Gabriel Education which was founded 25 years ago by Julia Gabriel in Singapore. It was also the first to be registered as a speech and drama center in Singapore's Ministry of Education in 1991, while the Malaysian branch in Bangsar was established in year 2006!

The brand then proceeded in expanding their branches- with the second one set up in CITTA MALL in 2011, and the upcoming third branch in Mont Kiara set to ope at the end of this year. This will also be their 10th year anniversary in Malaysia!

Shoes neatly arranged at the front porch.

The moment we entered the school, we were greeted by the warm and friendly teachers who already knew Tyler by name! In fact, they knew every kid and their parents by name!

First things first, Tyler was given a temperature check using a children's thermometer, to ensure that he isn't having a fever. If kids are unwell, they'll be asked to go home and come back again when they feel better. I feel this is really good cos some parents die die also don't want to waste money and let their kids skip class though they're not feeling well. This is inconsiderate cos the virus/bacteria can spread to other poor kids! So thank goodness the teachers make sure that this doesn't happen! They also gave Tyler's hands a good wipe with wet wipes before going into class. I liked this place already :))

 While waiting for class to start, we hung out at the parents' waiting area.

Oh yeah, Chiltern House is a pre-school programme for the 2-6 years old! While Julia Gabriel is an enrichment center providing adult accompanied programmes (i.e.: PlayNest for 6-18 months, and PlayClub for 18-36 months), speech and drama, and readers and writers for those who are 2 years old to teens!

Tyler couldn't stop looking around the whole place cos it was somewhere new to him, and everything was just so colourful! Oh, Papa Boon took the day off work too cos he didn't want to miss Tyler's first experience in school <3

And this was a kids' play area while waiting for their parents to pick them up! Which Tyler found to be very delicious -.- Just one second of not watching and he jumped at the chance of having his breakfast -.-

The class normally starts with letting babies play with toys on the foam mats, accompanied by teachers and parents who interacted with them.

And check out my fancy socks! Every kid, parent and teacher are required to wear socks while in school for hygiene purposes. I remembered Tyler's socks but forgot our own! But thankfully they sold new socks at the reception so we bought and wore them at once!

Diaper bags in a row!

Look at all the adorable babies wearing Malay traditional costumes!

The theme for this term at PlayClub (18-36 months) was, 'Out at Sea' which explained all the decorations and artwork centered around the theme! PlayNest and PlayClub classes are parents/guardian-accompanied, so yay we could participate also!!

Tyler was initially pretty shy cos it was his first time surrounded by SOOO many toys and SOOO many babies, all of whom are older than him, crawling real fast and some even walking real fast already! He was the most junior in class (freshman lol) so he was a bit shy, just playing with whichever toy we placed in front of him. All the while listening to Raya tunes playing in the background. Hahaha it all felt so festive!

"Clean Up Time"

Then it was Clean Up Time! A teacher would turn the music off and initiate Clean Up Time, and all the teachers would belt out a special song (to the melody of 'Are You Sleeping') just for this activity. It goes something like, 

"Clean up time
Clean up time
Put your toys away
Toys away
Everybody clean up
Everybody clean up
Let's all help
Let's all help"

By the end of the class I found myself humming to this tune hahaha! 

"Story time"

After putting the toys away in the baskets, everyone sat in a circle for Story Time! In each Playnest class, 3 teachers will be present (1x teacher in-charge and 2x assistants). A new puppet character is introduced at each Story Time, and it is according to the color theme of the class! In this class, it was the color Green so Mr. Freddie the Frog was introduced to the babies! Teacher in-charge of the day, Teacher Shoby was super fun and engaging, helping the babies to stay interested throughout Story Time!

This was when I got surprised by Tyler. I was expecting him to be crawling around aimlessly disrupting the class, or lie around in his own little world, oblivious to what the class was doing. Instead, he was the exact opposite! He was super attentive and was fully engaged in class, listening to teacher (though I doubt he understood everything), and curious about what went on! Here he was checking out his friend, and probably wondering when was his turn gonna be hahaha.

Ok, your turn now, Tyler!
Tyler super loved the frog puppet (and I, the mommy was scared of frogs hahaha), that he hugged it and didn't want to let go!

"Magic Box"

During the Magic Box segment of the class, the teachers unveil art and craft materials in the Magic Box! You're probably thinking what art and craft are babies at 6 months old going to do? I wondered the same cos they're too young to be holding paint brushes or do colouring! Well, I guess what's why we're not pre-school teachers hahahaha!

Art and Craft of the day:
Painting ketupat with salt and green paint, using their hands!! :))

Here's how!

First, every baby gets a paper ketupat.

Look at how excited Tyler was! He loves paper cos he loves to tear them apart. He was gonna do just that when I stopped him,

...and made him feel the salt that I poured onto the paper ketupat with his hands! More than an Arts and Craft activity, this is also a sensory activity where babies get to feel different shapes and textures that awaken their senses! Look at Tyler's face hahaha. He was wondering what's all these rough small little stuff :')

Then I poured the salt into the paint and mixed them all together, dipped Tyler's hands into the paint to colour the ketupat.

"Mama, why do my fingers look different??"

"Mama, this feels weird!!"

"Mama, what's going on??"

"Mama, I think we're done. Can we stop?"

"Oh, my fingers, what happened to you..."

And guess what, all the while I was just happily doing the activity with him without realising that he was making such displeased faces. After looking back at the pictures only did I realise that he was very disturbed by his green fingers hahaha!! :P

One thing I love about this class is that kids get a chance to be messy and dirty! Perhaps Tyler needs to learn that it's okay to be dirty sometimes :P All the paint used are non-toxic and baby-friendly, and are easily washed off! Right after the babies were done with their artwork, off they went to wash their hands in the washroom!

Look at all these tiny shoes! 
Kids are supposed to wear them before using the washroom!

This has got to be the most fun washroom ever! It's a jungle in there (literally!). Once we got Tyler's hands all clean, we went back to the classroom to find that each baby has a bowl of snacks waiting for them! 

"Snack Time"

OMG I cannot!! Look at how tiny the chairs are OMG!
So tiny that it fit Tyler's little butt just right! Cutest sight ever!

"Ohhh, I have two snacks in my hands!"

"Mama, can I have them all?"

"Yayyyy okay!" *nomonomnom*

"Whatchu looking at?"

Those tiny fingers holding into his snacks so tight, as if he's afraid anyone is gonna take them away from him :')

Because it was the Raya celebration that day, the parents each brought desserts and snacks to the party! Initially I thought it was provided by the school and I'm like, wow parents get to party in every class too?? Cool!!

After that I found out that they were contributed by the parents and I got some embarrassed lol, cos we didn't bring anything, yet...

...we took a plate full of snacks and happily chomping them down with Tyler at one corner hahahah!! I didn't know we were supposed to contribute snacks :') One more embarrassing story to add to the books. Hahhahaa!

That's Tyler planking after snacks to shed the calories.
Lol just kidding la hahaha!!

"Outdoor Play Time!"

There was a small door that leads to the outdoor playground from the classroom! For class today, the babies just lingered and played with the different playhouses, kitchen sets and slides outdoor.

Tyler making friends!!

Woahhh so happy got friends now!! Hahahah

"Mommy let me fix this stove for you so that you can cook dinner tonight!"

"Hmmm looks like it's just a minor dial problem. Small issue, mommy."

Tyler's first time at a playground! He didn't quite know what to expect, so he just stood there and looked at how other kids played.

Then I brought him to the slide.

And he loved it!! I mean, look at his face! Life is good! Life is great! :')

"Music Time"

After playtime outdoors, it was music time back in class! Teacher Shoby was on the keyboard and led us all into singing nursery rhymes and dancing in pairs (parent-baby dance).

He was so engaged with whatever I was doing!

Or he might just be thinking,
"Mama, that's a weird dance you're doing" hahaha

Then all the babies were to lie on the mat and sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while the lights were dimmed and spotlight shines from the ceiling.

And he took this time to stretch and enjoy life.

Class ended with bubble time! 
Tyler's first encounter with bubbles and he loved them! :))

Thanks to Papa Boon who captured all the precious pictures!

We were asked if we'd like to do a school tour and I was like, of course!! After class I was already very in love with this school and have secret plans to enrol Tyler here (hahaha secret cos hadn't discussed with Boon yet lol). Okay let me show you around the school.

First stop, The Book Room aka library!


This is a legit library with a legit librarian! I was so impressed until I wanted to grab a book and sit by the window to read there and then! It's designed to be such a conducive setting for learning- bright, colourful and so comfy!

Don't remember having a library back in my old kindy. 
Times have changed and it's a good thing!

Next, the classrooms!

Each classroom has a blind over the doors so that students wouldn't be distracted by what's going on outside, yet at the same time parents can take a close peek through the blinds if they want to!

Two teachers are assigned to each class from 2-6 years old- one English speaking teacher, and another Mandarin speaking one. This is to encourage bilingual learning! I love this arrangement! Most kids find it extremely difficult when they transition from pre-school to Chinese primary school, especially if they come from an English speaking household. So for kids to be exposed to both the English and Chinese language in a natural class environment, they'll be able to catch up easier and faster!

This is how the classroom are decorated! Do you see ketupat's hanging around too? Those are the students' artwork in conjunction with Hari Raya!

Notice board for parents.

What the PlayNest Programme is all about!

Spot Jude aka Fighter's work! :))

We were lucky cos Tyler's class fell on the day that the school had a Raya celebration party! After school the kids had a party upstairs where teachers prepared food like kuih-muih, dodol, satay, mee goreng, nasi lemak, Raya cookies and many more! They were learned about what the Hari Raya celebration was all about, the different Malay traditional costumes and how to fold a ketupat!

I love how this school doesn't only focus on academics, but also making learning fun and relevant to the kids!

Okay, let's move on to Tyler's second day of school! This time, it was on a Saturday from 3pm-4.30pm!

Actually, something embarrassing happened...again -.-

Somehow my mom brain remembered that the class on Saturday was the same time as weekdays classes, which was from 9-10.30am! So we woke up bright and early on a Saturday morning, dress Tyler up and went to school, only to find that his class was at 3pm T.T

So we went for a nice breakfast (lol), and went home to let Tyler nap first before his class! Failed max!!

Anyways, we made it to class and that's the most important part ok :P

"Second Day of School"

For this class, the photos were taken by the sis, Gladys cos Boon had runny nose so we decided he shouldn't join us in school. At the very last minute, Gladys came to the rescue and so graciously helped us with the photos! <3

As usual, the babies got their play time before class started! This time around, we noticed that Tyler was less shy and much more expressive compared to the first class!

For today's class, the theme colour was Orange! Tyler didn't have orange-orange clothes, so I figured I should dress him up in his red/peach onesie paired with his orange bib! Pass or not? :P

Today's teacher in-charge was Teacher Sharon, and here's Tyler listening to what teacher has to say. He paid full attention and looked her in the eyes when she spoke to him, which lasted for about 2-3 minutes! :))

Then we put the toys away because it's Story Time!

This time around, Tyler's dared to move out of his comfort zone around me and crawled to the front to join other babies!

He was also daring to make friends now! Hahaha this is his way of showing affection! If he likes you, he will go near you, put his head on your shoulder and kiss you! Haha poor girl must have scared her :')

Remember there's a new puppet character for each class? For today it was Cuddly the Orange Caterpillar! Tyler loved touching his soft fur :))

Then it was Story Book time, and guess what Tyler did?

He liked Story Time so much that he decided he wanted to get a first class seat.

Right at the front!!! This boy!!

He's obviously grown very comfortable with the classroom and teachers that he dared to do this! I'm actually very proud of him for being so confident and brave at just 7 months! :')

Then it was the Magic Box time!

Guess who was the first to reach the Magic Box?

Oooo today's art and craft involved a caterpillar!

Hahaha Teacher Sharon dropped a golf ball into the orange paint and it splashed all over Tyler's face. That's him looking curious and wondering what just happened hahaha.

"Ooooo can I eat these orange balls??"

So here's what the babies were supposed to do! They each had a box filled with orange paint, a piece of caterpillar and a golf ball, and they were supposed to roll the ball around to paint the caterpillar orange! So fun!

 The adorable aftermath :P

After cleaning up in the washroom, it was Snack Time! Today, the babies were given organic apple puree! I was seated behind Tyler feeding him with a spoon so I couldn't really see his expressions, until I saw the photos only did I know that he found it to be very, very, very sour hahaha!!!


HAHAHAHAHA!! OMG my poor boy!!

I didn't know it was so hard for him cos he literally finished every spoonful of puree I gave him! Really didn't know he looked like that from the front! Hahaha sorry Tyler :')

Afte Snack Time, it was Outdoor Play Time and for today, the babies were allowed to play with water, which is Tyler's favourite thing to do cos he loves water and bath time!

It was his first time playing with bubble water so he was very intrigued! Should have stripped him naked cos by the end of it he was all wet and had to be changed anyway. Then we all came back into class for Music Time, and guess what happened during Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?

 This boy went to pull his teacher's hair!! T____T

I foresee having to see his teachers a lot next time hahahaha. 
Sorry Tyler's future teachers hahahaha!!

Finishing off the class with Bubble Time!!
See how much he's showing his enjoyment this time compared to the first class? :)

In just two classes we could see improvement in Tyler in terms of his confidence in approaching the class (until crawl all the way to the front), his peers (until go and kiss people), his teachers (until go and pull people's hair), and overall activities! It's true when they say babies love routines. Once they get used to the class they'll grow to love it!

I know a lot of parents might think that it'll be a waste of money if we send our babies to school at such an early age. I used to think that way too until I experienced the classes myself and saw with my own eyes how Tyler improved with just two classes. I couldn't help but be so proud that at 7 months he was so confident and expressive!

Research says that babies' brain doubles its size in the first year, and to grow mentally they need to explore with their senses and that's when the sensory activities help to stimulate mental growth. They say that babies' brains are like sponges that keep growing and expanding in the first year, that lays a good foundation for learning for the years and years ahead. Which is why parents start teaching their babies how to recognise pictures and sounds using flash cards cos as young as they are, they indeed have the capability to grow mentally! We just need to help stimulate them.

So yeah, I now believe that a programmes like Playnest and Playclub are good cos as much as they are play-based programmes, they expose our babies to being curious about their surroundings, open them to interaction with their peers, and overall learning in a natural approach. The maximum students they allow in a class are 14 pax to ensure the babies get their teacher's full attention!

For more info on the PlayNest programme or others available under Julia Gabriel Centre, you can visit their official website at! You can get updates on their Facebook page ( and Instagram account too (@juliagabrielkl)!

That's all from me!

love, Careen.
This post is filed under AdvertorialLifestyle, TylerJayNg.

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