We can hardly keep up with the new openings! Almost every month, news of another new centre, kindergarten or, more rarely, a primary/secondary school lands on our desks. News of a new Victoria playgroup did, however, make us sit up and take notice, because of the possible implications to admissions at Victoria Kindergartens.
Conveniently located in Wan Chai (in the ‘Toyota building”), the playgroup’s most valuable asset is the established brand. With that comes experience, experienced teachers (led by Principal Gabriel Li from Kornhill) and, as mentioned, the idea of a pathway all the way to secondary. So, Victoria offers education from 8 months to 18 years.
Victoria have operated a playgroup for many years – BeeBee Kids.
The new ‘Playpark’ is claiming their USP as ‘Messy Play’, except that most modern playgroups in Hong Kong are already incorporating messy and sensory play into their programs.
Victoria says: “Messy Play” is important for all children as it helps develop their language, cognitive, social, emotional, creative and motor skills. It’s an engaging way for children to freely explore and learn about the world around them and also a great way for parents to build intimacy with their children through shared experiences. Messy play encourages children to develop their senses through touching, smelling, maybe even tasting!”
During a press briefing, after a parent and child session, a cute three year old girl was given a few boxes of different substances to stick her hands in – one looked like jelly, another was shaving form. Lots of fun for a toddler, although it’s nothing new or different. We remember playing in sand pits in the 70s and messing about with hoses in the garden which made mud, and so on.
Victoria Playpark are asking us to “help spread the word and raise awareness of the benefits of messy play” as long as it’s clean messy, since all adults entering the space are asked to wear hospital shoe covers.
Perhaps the uniqueness is in the trilingual program. As with all other Victoria early childhood offerings, Cantonese is the dominant language with English and Mandarin to supplement. This will suit local families on the local school path.
The environment is beautiful – gone are the garish primary colours typically seen in a local playgroup/kindergarten. The decor mimics a park, complete with fake foot massaging pebbles, fake grass, what looked like real sand and swings. Six clean, bright classrooms and a kitchen for children to get cooking with a bookcase in the open area doubling as a climbing frame – probably unintentionally.
Victoria Playpark opens on Monday 26 November.
Infant Progam, 8-12 months; Toddler Program, 13-24 months; Big Kid 25-36 months