Operation Feel Good At Friends Corner
“Are we going to paint dinosaurs again today, Mummy?”, asked my little boy. “No, my darling”, I replied, “Today they’ll be a new theme. You’ll be doing something about ‘Nature'”. A big smile burst across Boy’s face as we made our way out the door, ready for a new day at Friends Corner.
I’m from England. I miss it. A lot. Don’t get me wrong, this Greek life I live is sweet, and I get back ‘home’ often enough, which helps keep it that way. But, sometimes, just thinking about Rhubarb Crumble (you can’t find rhubarb anywhere in Greece), roast parsnips (ditto, parsnips), or just a foggy morning gets me all misty-eyed.
So imagine my joy when Boy was just six months old and Girl two, when I stumbled across Friends Corner. What do you mean, “they speak English there?”, “children learn through play?”, “it’s parent-run?”, “members are from all over the world?”, “I can hang out there with my kids?”. It sounded too good to be true.
But, walking into the cosy Friends Corner clubhouse not only confirmed that some things are exactly what they say they are, but also reminded me that I – as a foreign mother in Greece – was not alone. My kids were euphoric as soon as they saw the place and its brilliant yard. A ‘feel good’ factor all round for our little family.
Now, as Girl has moved onto “Big School”, Boy and I make our way to Friends Corner in time for the start of the Morning Programme. Upon arrival we are greeted by the friendliest faces with the warmest welcome. Mummies put the kettle on, warm up the coffee pot and ‘catch up’ as the children spend time playing, doing puzzles, riding bikes, or sculpting homemade play dough. Exercise Time begins and Boy joins his friends in doing a series of warm-ups, stretches and fun routines, before dancing round to music. The smile on each child’s face says it all.
Having built up an appetite, it’s time for a little snack. We’ve brought yogurt along today, as well as some carrot and cucumber sticks to share with our friends. The Themed Activity that follows sees all the children line up at the gate ready for a little ’Nature Walk’ round the block to pick up leaves. Arriving back at the Clubhouse, it’s time to talk about ‘Nature’ and what it is. The children glue their leaves onto a big ’L’, for ’Leaves’. ’L’ is the ’Letter of the Week’, and Boy and his classmates sing ‘The Alphabet Song’ as they glue the leaves down. Once the project is complete, everyone mucks in and tidies up.
A run-around in the yard gets the kids’ energy swirling again, before they are asked if they’d like to come inside for Song Time. As most of the children gather themselves in a circle, mummies and nannies take a seat as favourite songs are sung. There’s lots of laughter and jumping around as ’Five Little Monkeys’ rings out for the third time.
Wind-Down Time comes around and it’s time to read a story. The children listen attentively before ‘guessing’ the ending with their vivid imaginations. As the book closes, glee gives way to thanks for another wonderful day. And, with that, it’s Home Time.
As we make our way home, Boy and I are grateful. Grateful for the day, the themes and learning coming our way, the afternoon and Saturday workshops to look forward to, the seasonal parties and excursions we lovingly join. And, most importantly, we are grateful for the friendships that we have made.
Maybe that Rhubarb Crumble can wait, after all…
Friends Corner is a Play School and Family Club run by the parents of the children that frequent its clubhouse. It is a Non-Profit Cooperative and a daily labour of love for all involved.
Come along, visit our website, read our blog. Find out more about us. Be a part of Operation Feel Good.
This article was written by Cat, and originally appeared in the Newcomers By The Sea Newsletter for Southern Athens – November 2014