Many parents feel the pressure to go overboard with toys and activities to try and keep their children happy, but this is a sure fire way of creating a whiny, demanding monster. The best thing you can do is switch off the TV, roam around outside with your child for an hour or two and simply have fun together.
A personal favourite of mine for doing this is Monkey Bizness in Sheffield. The staff are friendly, it’s well supervised so parents can enjoy some peace of mind whilst having an uninterrupted chat; there’s plenty to keep kids occupied without it all being too noisy; food from the café is delicious (and reasonably priced); coffee from the coffee machine good quality… the list goes on.
How does it work?
Monkey Bizness provides an environment for children aged 2-6 to play and explore,with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The staff also aim to ‘keep kids active and connected’ through various fun activities that encourage team building, communication and cooperation. They believe it is essential for our children to ‘feel safe, challenged and supported in the development of their imagination’. As many of the children have autism or other special needs Monkey Bizness provides extra support services to help them reach their full potential. There are two play rooms at Monkey Bizness which contain toys suitable for different age groups (2-6 & 3-7). The staff will take turns to supervise so everyone gets a chance to play. The play rooms also double up as art workshops with different parents coming in every week to teach their children new skills. The staff are all volunteers who donate their time and love the kids that they work with.
Tell us about some of the children you work with…
The 2-6 year olds love playing on the jungle gym, climbing walls, benches etc. They also like looking at all the animals and toys hanging from the ceiling, running around in circles and playing on the huge trampoline at one end of the room (which is like a gymnastics arena). The 3-7 year olds love watching the younger children playing and copying them. They also enjoy art sessions, cooking sessions in the café, music and dramatic play.
Are there other ways you help people?
Besides running Monkey Bizness they also organise outings during school holidays to places like Museums, Farms or Sports Centres. They also provide support for parents who have a child with special needs by helping integrate activities so everyone has fun together. They are a registered charity which means all money raised goes towards the running of the centre and providing these extra services free of charge. The staff also do events on their own in their local community to raise money for the centre.
How to find your local Monkeys
Monkeybizness.co.uk is a family run, Sheffield based, volunteer-led organisation that aims to provide special needs children with the opportunity to play and have fun in an environment designed especially for them. Through a range of activities and support they aim to “keep kids active and connected” – helping them to build up their confidence and learn new skills whilst having fun along the way. The play centre was set up in 2009 by a group of parents who recognised the need for all children – including those with special needs – to be able to access activities that would keep them active and engaged. The play centre has two rooms for different ages of children, with a jungle gym, climbing frame, bench and shop. The children are supervised by a team of volunteers from 2-6 yrs old and 3- 7 yrs old.
It’s a great place to spend a few hours and your child will come home with all their pent up energy used up and a happy smile on their face.