Why we love our Children’s Centre

I don’t know if you have a Children’s or Sure Start centre near you. They’re a government funded early years support hub and we love ours. The Tennyson Centre in Haslemere is an amazing resource. We first found them when Oscar was about 5 months old. They were running a ‘new mother and baby’ group called Welcome to the World. It was billed as an important first social experience for babies, with singing and stories and sensory experiences. And it was. But really it was about encouraging new mothers out of the house. We/I loved it. While many of my new NCT friends went along for one or two sessions, Oscar and I went to all of them. I needed so badly to get out of the house at the time that it quickly became part of our new ‘routine’. We even carried on into the next course, ‘Journey of Discovery’ when Oscar turned 9 months. We went to the Centre every week for months, until he got old enough and I got confident enough to start going to other toddler groups. And I’m sure that’s exactly what they were there for.

I hadn’t been back since Oscar was a tot, until last September, when we were directed back by the health visitor to attend their Chatterbox course for delayed speakers. It was lovely going back and the staff were just as wonderful as they’d ever been, welcoming us back with open arms. It quickly became apparently that while Chatterbox was a fab space for some children, it wasn’t really working for Oscar. The outreach worker Kate suggested we come in late and stay a little longer and that worked much better. When the course came to an end, Kate told us, they were starting a stay and play session for children who had additional needs. Because we were going through the investigations into Oscar’s possible autism diagnosis, we were asked if we’d like to come along. It was a difficult few months for me and Oscar, but the support we received at our weekly visits to our Children’s Centre was invaluable. It was the only agency I came into contact who asked how I was doing. It was worth walking the two miles to the centre just for that. The fact that Oscar adores it there is something of a bonus 😉

So with the arrival of summer I have to admit I was (am) nervous. He’s off preschool now until September. What do you do with an autistic 3 year old, when you don’t drive? The wonderful ladies at The Tennyson Centre have a jam packed summer programme, many of which I know will prove very popular. And busy. That being that case, and to ensure as many children can access the services as possible, they’re carrying on their additional needs stay and play sessions. I’m so happy. He loves it. I love it. That they’re running the sessions, would have been enough for me.

Last Thursday they started off their summer programme with a visit from the hands on farm company Millers Ark. They’ve had them visit previously and knew how hectic popular it could be. So this year arranged for the farm to stay on after the main morning session, and invited children with additional needs, or those who just may need a quieter session to attend. I had no idea how Oscar would react to the animals, but booked to go anyway.

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Looking at the guinea pigs

Goat relaxing in the sun

Goat relaxing in the sun

Its a pig! He's asleep.

A pig

"pig sleep, shhhh, zzzzzz"

“pig sleep, shhhh, zzzzzz”

He ran around the garden, looking at everything, and then went back inside to play with some toys, which I thought might be the case

Magnetic patterns

Magnetic patterns

Playing

Playing

What I didn’t expect was him to come back out and get right up close to the animals.

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We were allowed in with the animals. He’s trying to feed the guinea pigs

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Having an in depth conversation with Buster the sheep

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Hanging with the donkey’s

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Then he went and picked up the brush, saying ‘brush’

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And brushed the donkey, so gently

He amazed me! He coped brilliantly with the animals and was so lovely with the other children there. We were the last to leave and he still didn’t want to go when we did. Would he have had such a great time in the main session? I’m not convinced he would. I think he would have run and run around the space, then gravitated towards to quieter areas, such as indoors. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have got as much out of it and we would have missed the experience of him initiating the grooming of the donkey.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to the team at The Tennyson Centre for arranging such a super experience. And if you’re in Haslemere and have, or know someone in the area with, a preschooler with additional needs I highly recommend Tuesday’s stay and play. You can find details of the centre on the website.

A Cornish Mum

Comments

  1. They’re a great resource – glad they’ve been so helpful for you and Oscar! The farm visit sounds brilliant. #SSAmazingAchievements

  2. that looks like so much fun. We relied a lot on our childrens centre when my son was younger and now my daughter loves their activities. I love it that they run things through the summer when all other toddler groups seem to stop. #SSAA

  3. We have a couple of children’s centres near us and they are brilliant. The staff is always lovely, and, you’re right, they are all about supporting YOU and well as your child. That’s amazing what happened with your son and the animals and that he was able to feed the guinea pigs. #SSAmazingAchievements

    • mrssavageangel says:

      Thank you so much – it was amazing. I had no idea how he’d take it, but being given the space and the time, meant he could access it in his own way. I’m so pleased you have childrens centres near you too. I really hope every one has.

  4. Ahh that is brilliant! I am a big fan of Children’s Centres too, I alway tell anyone who is expecting a child to find their local one. They are a lifesaver! Especially in those early months with a newborn, it was so good to find other local mums and get advice from them, have a regular activity. My one at Larkhall in Stockwell arranged days out too, it was brilliant. I think it’s luck which area you live in though. Having moved to Slough, they don’t offer many activities here – luckily I know what I’m doing now with Tyler! Sabrina xx #picknmix

    • mrssavageangel says:

      Wow your first one sounds awesome! We know we’ve been lucky, talking to people all over the country. There doesn’t seem to be much consistency, which is a shame, but not a surprise.

  5. Babyfriend says:

    What an amazing resource for you ! and so insightful of them to cater for the children who need a quieter, calmer atmosphere.
    I am glad they are carrying on the sessions for you over the summer as mot things close down leaving parents stranded with children that need to be occupied, it sounds like a real godsend for you.
    I love that he got so much out of being with the animals and was interacting with them so well.
    Animals really can be nothing short of miraculous sometimes, in the way that they can connect with autistic children.
    I recently rehomed my very steady, gentle horses up to Aberdeenshire to be the best friend for a 16 yr old autistic boy and they are getting on great. The fact that he has simple but necessary chores to do for his furry friend is helping him focus and concentrate much more.
    Hope you have a lovely summer and will be back to read more of your blog when I have finished doing my linky rounds 🙂
    Sarah x
    #picknmix

    • mrssavageangel says:

      Thanks Sarah. Yeah it’s been a great resource for us and even more so since Oscar’s needs have increased. I am really interested in getting Oscar to engage more with animals. He used to be petrified of dogs, now he’s fine, until the dog comes up to him! But its a start. I’ve said from the start he’s a boy who’s going to need a dog in his life! We’re also lucky to live somewhere were riding is commonplace, so hope to get him involved in that when he’s a little older, if possible. What an amazing thing you’ve done for the boy in Scotland!

  6. Lovely post, so glad you have a children’s centre near you with easily accessible activities. I’m the same as you, don’t drive and with my two, it’s not easy to get them out and about on public transport.
    The Miller animals occasionally visit D’s school and SN open days and it’s fantastic that the children can see the animals so close up.
    Thanks for linking up with #SSAmazingAchievements 🙂

    • mrssavageangel says:

      Thanks! I know we’re lucky. Not driving is an added complication when you have any children, but particularly those with additional needs.

  7. ourlittleescapades says:

    It sounds like this session was perfect for Oscar and his needs. I’m so glad he got to experience that animals on the terms he needed. We used to live next door to a surestart centre when Ethan was born and it kept me going that first year. I never found one when we moved here and I have really missed it, thankfully I have found other things for me and Little E #SSAmazingAchievements

    • mrssavageangel says:

      So glad you found other kinds of support where you are now! It’s been invaluable for us at various points along the way.

  8. I really need to make more use of my local one now I have moved. After my second baby and having PND they were a great resource for me and I did a course through them that really helped. Sounds like the stay and play sessions are perfect for you. Thanks for linking up to #PickNMix

    • mrssavageangel says:

      That sounds fab! They really do seem to have all bases covered. I’m so glad they were there to help with your PND xx

  9. This place sounds amazing and I’m so glad it’s there for you and your gorgeous little man! I can imagine it can be a challenge at times, but he’s very lucky to have such a fab Mum to love.

    Stevie xx #PicknMix

    • mrssavageangel says:

      Thanks Stevie. He is very lucky to have me 😉 hahahaha. It is tough there’s no denying, but it’s life and he’s my baby. xx

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