Give your Baby a Head Start with PEKiP
It’s back to school season – which means that while older siblings head off to start a new academic year, Hong Kong’s littlest residents are also gearing up for a new season of playgroups or mommy and me activities. While there is certainly no shortage of specialized baby sport, music, and language programs to choose from in Hong Kong, there are fewer programs which take a natural approach to the development of the whole child from a young age. One of these unique offerings is The Prague Program for Parents and Children, referred to fondly by in-the-know moms and dads as PEKiP.
The PEKiP program encourages child development along a natural progression, building key skills which lay the foundation for future academic and social success. It is based around four primary goals – (1) to support the development of babies’ motor skills; (2) to strengthen the bond between parent and child; (3) to form an open, sharing community amongst parents of similarly aged children, and; (4) to encourage babies to take an interest in their peers. Class founder Anne Knecht-Boyer strives to achieve these goals by hosting small classes, allowing new babies and mommies the critical opportunity to socialize with others of a similar age. Classes are limited to eight baby/parent pairs, and are grouped into three age categories: 6 weeks to 3 months, 4 to 6 months, and 7 to 12 months.
The creative activities at PEKiP are designed to stimulate a baby’s natural development of motor skills through play and freedom of movement. From gaining head control and rolling over, to scooting and crawling, right up through developing a pincer grasp and finally walking, games and exercises are carefully thought out and tailored to suit the milestones each specific age group of babies is currently working on. Smaller babies, for instance, might enjoy being tickled by a feather (to gain an understanding of where their body begins and ends) or rocking in a blanket hammock, while older babies may be presented with more vigorous challenges, such as sliding across a lotion coated mirror on their bellies, or crawling and toddling their way through the PEKiP obstacle course.
Having the chance to work on physical milestones in a fun and supportive environment also fosters babies’ emotional development, and fosters an intimate bond between baby and parent through massage and interactive games. Although PEKiP encourages different kinds of play that most parents would not think of on their own, many of the activities are surprisingly simple in nature and can be repeated at home for continued fun, bonding and stimulation which are so much more rewarding than simply presenting an infant with toys.
Parents unfamiliar with PEKiP may be surprised to learn that babies generally enjoy at least some ‘naked time’ throughout the sessions. Though it may sound like a mess waiting to happen (thus the reason that not very many children are allowed to play diaper-free at home), naked play allows a freedom of movement enabling little ones to explore their full range of motion, which is vital to development. PEKiP alumni report that teacher Anne’s encouraging attitude put them at ease about potential “accidents” and they soon loved the concept. Because the program ends at 12 months, the biggest lament we hear about PEKiP is that it is over too soon – the feedback from pleased parents repeats the message “we can’t wait to bring our next baby”.
Interested in signing up for PEKiP with your baby? Fall sessions begin on September 10th – visit the PEKiP website for further details on enrolling in a class.
Anne Knecht-Boyer is the author of Baby Fun – Games and Activities to Promote Your Baby’s Mental, Physical and Social Development. Her book follows PEKiP philosophies, providing more than 50 stimulating activities to do at home to help babies aged 6 weeks to 1 year work on specific motor skills. Baby Fun has been published in 14 languages – a new edition is due out next year.