Back to school time – which means those of us without school aged kids are looking at what classes to put their toddlers and preschoolers in. I was so honored to be invited to participate in a sneak preview of the new Early Learning Immersion Programs at Arts Umbrella. Arts Umbrella is a wonderful space for teaching creativity to kids. I love their commitment to community. They are a non-profit society, and two-thirds of their students participate at little to no cost. They also run Creative U in the Surrey schools for children with intellectual disabilities.
B has hit a few stumbling blocks lately. He is struggling with the lack of routine this summer. I can tell he misses the consistency and structure of preschool. Admittedly, one of my biggest struggles as a parent is consistency and routine. I naturally rebel against it, while toddlers and preschoolers thrive on it. Some of Breccan’s behaviors have really backslid, and he has struggled in some of his summer classes because of that. I have been struggling with whether I should be enrolling him or not, whether his burgeoning self-esteem might do better with a break. What he really needs, though, is more consistent classes, not these summertime one-week one-offs. I find that, even in my rebellion against structure, my emotions have not been as stable without the structure our weeks have in the fall, winter, and spring.
Classes are a main part of my strategy for avoiding depression relapse. When I was on my first maternity leave, I used classes and drop ins as a way to lower my risk of postpartum depression. For me, if I have paid for or signed up for a class, I am much more likely to attend than if it is just a drop-in. Scheduled activities that get me out of the house keep me from getting lost in my own ruminations. And any experienced parent will tell you that a bored kiddo is a destructive kiddo. Pulling B out of classes seems like a bad idea, but we have been in a rut of mostly swimming and sports classes, or traditional preschool-like classes.
Arts Umbrella was exactly what we needed. I appreciate the expertise Arts Umbrella offers. The teachers are all working creatives, and they are all committed to children’s arts education in particular. Breccan did a dance class here before Olin was born. He went from being the kid who ran around not paying attention to following along with moves in one session. They know how to help kids fall in love with their creative side. I felt really comfortable taking him to the Half-Day Preview, even when I could tell he was hesitant and acting out.
I was instantly relieved with how the teachers dealt with his acting out. They welcomed him, set him on special tasks, and he slowly warmed up. The schedule was a little vigorous, although I think some of that can be attributed to the morning time (my son, like his mother and father, is not a morning person). He was slow to warm up in Drawing & Painting, but he hit a stride by the second class (Making Music) and his favourite was Imagination Through Movement, though his energy petered out at the end and he chose to watch from my lap. If you have a child who is struggling in other classes, who is shy, or who has minor behavioral struggles, Arts Umbrella may be a good fit.
The Immersion Program is offered in two formats – Individual Half-Day and Five-Day Morning. With the Individual Half-Day, you can choose Dance & Visual Arts, Music & Drama, and Visual Arts & Drama. The Five-Day Morning Program runs Monday to Friday, and a different two classes are offered every day with a snack in between. If you are looking for an alternative to preschool for your child, this would be a great option. If you want to customize the program, there is that option as well.
If you are needing some structure to your days, or if you are on one of the many preschool wait lists, The Art Immersion programs from Arts Umbrella are a great option for you. Plus, a few hours in the morning on Granville Island to shop at the market, check out the galleries, or just hit up a coffee shop with a book is great built-in self care!
For more information, head to: www.artsumbrella.com/immersion