‘My daughters LOVE every class we've attended and never want to leave. It's also very convenient that so many classes are offered through the day.’ – A. Moore, a happy parent at Gymboree Play & Music Chiswick
A graduate in drama and musical theatre, Aaron Barriscale has been running Gymboree Play & Music at Chiswick Town Hall since July. Aaron had already been teaching the popular classes for a year when the previous franchisee, Emily Wright, decided to sell and asked if he would like to take over. ‘I loved it here, I’m passionate about working with children and I knew the business inside out. So, it was the perfect opportunity. It’s been hard work, but very fulfilling.’
Established in 1976, Gymboree Play & Music operates in over 40 countries. It was founded by a Californian mother, Joan Barnes, who wanted to be able to play with her children in a safe, age-appropriate environment. ‘Then as now, the key elements of the philosophy are that parents stay and get involved and that children best learn new skills when they’re having fun,’ explains Aaron.
‘We’re lucky to have a wonderful space in the former Council Chamber and we offer a wide range of classes – play and learn, art, music, messy play and sensory baby lab – all for newborns to five year-olds (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday mornings). Conceived by experts in early childhood development, each session encourages children to explore and be curious and we have the flexibility to adapt what we do according to age – the youngest baby we’ve had was three weeks old.
‘Most importantly, our play and learn set up changes every two weeks. The purpose-built equipment, such as slides, climbers and boxes, incorporates a huge number of configurations. Hence, classes aren’t repetitive and we’re always able to engage and challenge the children. It’s exactly the same with music: we change themes fortnightly, allowing us to explore everything from Caribbean music to Disney!’
Gymboree Play & Music Chiswick works on a Bronze, Silver and Gold membership basis with Gold allowing children to attend unlimited classes (drop-in sessions on Saturdays are offered with no monthly membership required). Aaron is now looking to take Gymboree events, for example custom-themed art, music and birthday parties to nurseries, child-friendly cafes and private homes. ‘Of course, coming to the Town Hall means everyone has fun and we clear up the mess afterwards!
‘As well as learning through play, Gymboree Play & Music Chiswick is the ideal way for children to build creativity, confidence and friendships. It is also invaluable for their parents as they get to know one another and build a support network. Coming to us is like joining an extended family.’
Sensory Baby Lab for newborns Play & Learn: apparatus-based classes for mobile children Music: develop a love of music through song, dance and instruments Art: boost imagination and self-expression with hands-on art activities Family Classes: exploring physical and musical activities for multi-age groups of siblings and friends Pre-School: build key skills for life at school
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