Nearly every kid looks forward to weekends and school holidays; it’s a welcome break from lessons and homework. As a parent who used to have to work weekends and had little vacation time, school holidays were an endless round of trying to find sitters or activities to keep the little ones occupied while I earned a living. Even if I could get time off, the inevitable whine of “I’m bored Mummy” normally came into play after just a few school-free days. Thanks to Soho Square’s Winter School the parents of Sharm no longer have to worry about these things and I doubt any child will utter the word “bored”.
The Winter School is managed by the lovely Naomi who noticed a gaping hole in Sharm’s childcare. For babies and toddlers there are ample provisions all year round, but by age 5 these nurseries and day-care centres do not really cater for the child’s growing mind. The facilities at Soho allow for all ages to find something to stretch their minds and bodies!
“We mix revision lessons with activities” says Naomi, “to keep the children on track with their school work as well as having fun.”
Naomi went on to explain how the day is structured so the children get the most from what is on offer at Soho and ensure they ‘study’ while their minds are fresh.
“The day starts with some stretching exercises to get the kids going and then we do some maths or spellings to compliment the things they learn at school. After they’ve had lunch we get into the really fun stuff.”
As I listened to Naomi listing all the activities available I started to wish I was 10 years old again; tennis, ballet, karate, ice-skating, bowling, face-painting, art, singing, drama, juggling – the list seemed endless. The supervisors are all qualified in childcare or teaching and have a range of talents which they put to excellent use encouraging the kids in all areas of art, drama and sport. While I was thinking this was an impressive selection that would keep any child happy for life, I realised Naomi was not finished yet.
“Our chefs here at Soho have been a great help giving the kids cooking lessons too. We’ve made pizzas and onion bhajis amongst other things” she said, “it is great when a kid gets to try a bhaji for the first time and they’ve made it themselves.”
Naomi is so enthusiastic about the Winter School it is totally infectious. She explained that they encourage healthy eating so snack-times are juices and fruit rather than crisps or sweets. She joked that sometimes the children are unhappy about an apple instead of chips but soon love the healthy option as it gives them more energy to play.
There is never a dull moment and Naomi is always looking to bring in performers or teachers to give the kids a special treat. Jugglers, magicians, singers, trips to the famous Ice-bar and 9D cinema are all included in the price.
“One of the great things about having the Winter School at Soho is all the facilities are right here, the only problem was the location. People think it is a long way even though we are central between Nabq and Hadaba – that’s why we have our own bus service.”
Using dedicated drivers and the school’s staff, the buses make pickups from Nabq and Hadaba and all sensible points in-between. The children are allowed to use the bus time to chat with friends or play or their latest electronic gismos. During the day the gismos need to go away as socialising, studying, exercising and playing fill every minute. Definitely no time for Candy Crush while they are at Soho!
I asked Naomi about the plans for the future as the scheme seems way too good to shelve until the summer holidays. She told me about plans to expand the scheme to weekends and evenings so the children could continue to mix with their Winter School friends. The plan is to supervise homework and offer activities such as tennis, gymnastics etc.
“We are in a position here where a brother and sister can be dong their favourite hobbies at the same time instead of one getting bored watching the other. One can be doing ballet while the other has a karate lesson for example.”
From a parents perspective the idea of not having to rush from one end of town to the other to drop various children at their chosen activities seemed wonderful, especially as Naomi went on to say they would continue with the free bus. She is hoping that they can partner with the local schools to bring the children straight to the after-school club and would welcome any input or feedback from teachers and parents that might be interested in the scheme.
As a parent I wish there had been something like the Winter School when my daughter was younger as it strikes an excellence balance between learning and fun – while my inner child is screaming to have a go in the soft play area and get my face painted like a tiger …
For more information you can contact Naomi at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page SOHO Studio www.facebook.com/pages/SOHO-Studio