In 2014, I’m embarking on yet another exciting journey to bring the Wonders of Nature & Play to more families with young children (aged 8 and under) in Singapore.
By the grace of God, I’ve received a wonderful opportunity to pioneer a community-based project in North-East District of Singapore. Our Organic Play Co-op aims to use Play to promote opportunities for authentic family bonding as well as nurture the creativity and resource-appreciation in our children. We’re due to launch by Feb 2014.
After some weeks of much thought, prayer and ‘testing of water’ with parents and industry professionals through various networks, I will like to present to you my latest baby – Organic Play Co-op.
Inspired by foreign networks like Children & Nature, Play England, Playgroup Australia, I am proposing a bold approach to bringing the benefits of Play and Playful Family Bonding to our local communities.
I have already some 10+ families who have expressed interest in joining this group. I’m currently working with two industry partners with solid Early Childhood Education experience to develop a pilot structure for us to start with. A community organisation has also expressed interest to support this. But more about them when things are finalized in the next month or so.
So, What’s an Organic Play Co-op?
Why This Co-op Initiative?
Being from a single-income family, raising two young children in one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, I know what it means to feel ‘financially inadequate’ to provide my children the ‘best possible learning experiences’. I know what it feels like to be excited over what seems like an amazing programme for my young ones, only to be a little more than dejected when I see that I cannot afford that $20/hour class and $300 camp fees. Sometimes, I wonder if I would make a better parent if only I had more disposable income on my hands.
I know, from speaking with other parents I meet, that I’m not alone in feeling like this.
I do not believe good nor great learning experiences should come at such hefty price tags.
I do not like to see children denied of beneficial growing-up experiences because they cannot afford it.
I would like to see every child and family, especially those with financial disadvantages, having the opportunity and access to Play.
Most of all, I believe that EVERY ONE – yes, YOU and I – have something we can offer to each other.
What Happens At A Co-Op?
1. Everyone Has A Gift to Share. Everyone matters.
My hope is that this will be a group that thrives on every parent’s contribution of time and/or expertise. By expertise, I do not mean you need to possess an ‘official certification’ of that expertise. Your hobby interest in bugs or baking? That’s an expertise already!
And if you don’t know what ‘gift’ you can share yet, no matter. Join us! And we’ll be sure we can help unearth your hidden talents.
2. Every Family Can Join.
I want to keep activities going on a ‘Maximum Fun on Minimum Budget’. This means, as far as possible, I’m going to keep costs as low as I can. Ideally, I would like to see no financial barrier to people joining. There are so many ways we can do this. And with your brains and resourcefulness, I’m pretty sure we can do this. And if you know anyone who could really benefit from participating in such a programme, but lack limited means of either time or cash, let us know! We can always think of ways to make things happen.
3. We’re A Community.
This means, we’re not about doing fun stuff just once and then goodbye. I will like to see this co-op as the gate to us meeting new friends and forging new friendships. I hope we can become a network of support, inspiration and encouragement for each other. Parenting can be so lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, making new friends can be scary. But I invite you to come with the courage to share. However, if at anytime you feel that we’re not meeting your needs, you’re also welcomed to leave. No hard feelings.
What Do We Do When We Meet?
Similar to playgroups or parent-child programmes, we will have a rough schedule of activities for each session.
However, being an Organic Play Co-op, these activities will often be more open-ended in nature to allow for participants to develop their own possibilities for play in a way meaningful to themselves.
Here are some ideas already pinned onto my inspiration board:
1. Messy play
2. Loose parts play. (See Teacher Tom and Let The Children Play)
3. Outdoor & Nature play ( Fancy jumping on log cookies or building a tent out of vines? See here)
4. Culinary Life Skills
6. Ropework e.g. knotting, lashing
For 1 – 3, I’m working with two industry partners I mentioned earlier to design the first series of activities.
For 4 – 6 I’ve on board two fathers who are professionals in these fields.
We’re about letting this co-op grow organically. So there is the great likelihood that our activities will change and morph along with the members ( like you!) of this interest group.
Who Can Join?
- Families( Parents and their children. Grandparents are also welcomed!)
- Educators who will like to contribute their time and expertise to lead programmes (useful for an action research project, perhaps?)
- Organisations who believe in nurturing families, children, creativity and Nature-rich experiences
You’ll find the sign up form on the right-hand side bar of my blog.
Alternatively, this is a link to sign up too.
An Important Sidenote
I’m doing this on a voluntary basis, and do not receive any form of remuneration for this.
I am also a Homeschooling mum with no domestic helper. As such, I do seek your understanding if I do not reply to your queries as promptly as you like.
Don’t forget to SIGN UP for our Organic Play Updates before you leave here!
And if you know friends who will love to be part of this, do share this with them.
Looking forward to sharing joyful and playful times with your families real soon.