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Birthlight training in China’s High-Five Parent-Child Swimming & Yoga Club

Air China flew me to Northern China where I was privileged to be the latest guest tutor at High-Five Parent-Child Club in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province this February. The club is the brainchild of David and Fay who, together with the teachers, staff and member families welcomed me with open arms to their impressive centre.

The initial sign reflecting the bonds being forged between Birthlight and High-Five was the promotional plaque dominating the reception wall, welcoming the forthcoming Birthlight training.

Clockwise  ‘High-Fives’s David and Fay welcome Birthlight Tutor Marion to Taiyuan’, ‘Teacher Ozzy’s impressive t-shirt’, 'Advertising Birthlight Training in China’, 'David welcoming Marion to High-Five Club’

Birthlight’s Water Based Practices delivered last year by Amanda have been met with a roaring success from the families. Situated on the first floor, in a self-contained area with a full range of facilities, the swimming pool is a magnet for babies and toddlers with their mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers and other family members. The expert teachers run regular sessions for a range of age groups, and hold popular social disco session family events, much to the delight of all.

David and Fay engaged the services of a specialist architect in designing the High-Five Club. The effect is striking. From the entrance area where footwear is exchanged for safety socks, through the soft arches housing specific areas for soft play, book sharing and meeting, to the bespoke dolphin glassed doors, every aspect has been cleverly and lovingly made child-friendly and engagingly attractive.

Clockwise  ‘The pool viewing area’, ‘Mummy and baby enjoying water play’, 'High-Five pool session’, 'Arch leading to library and pool area’

The High-Five teachers, Sherry, Blue, Sarah, Ozzy and Jessica, will be rolling out the Birthlight Baby Yoga courses up to pre-school in the specially designed High-Five Yoga Studio. Already the members have been keen to attend taster sessions for Birthlight Baby Yoga Level 1, Level 2 and Birthlight Toddler Yoga. In China the extended family is usually involved in raising children. It is usual for grandparents to accompany the mother and/or father and baby to the sessions. The atmosphere at the Club is warm; there is a strong sense of feeling comfortable throughout the venue. The grandparents are eager for their grandchildren to participate in the Birthlight practices. Any language barrier disappears as the babies clearly demonstrate their cues of appreciation and joy through the yoga-based Birthlight practices.

Clockwise  ‘Daddy and daughter enjoy Birthlight toddler yoga’, ‘Mummy and son play scarf peek-a-boo’, 'Joy at the end of the dog tunnel’, 'Birthlight babies enjoy swings’

The province of Shanxi is steeped in culture, and my hosts wasted no opportunity to escort me to the most marvellous events; from the historic turtle-shaped walled city of Pingyao, (2700 year old UNESCO World Heritage site which housed the first bank in China, and still functions today as a tourist centre,) to an original audience-integrated ancient performance, a ‘time-travel experience’, based on a true 19 century local tragedy which unites the descendants of the city.

‘David and Fay stroll the Heritage Market’, ‘Striking performance in Pingyao’, 'Roofs of the ancient walled cityl’

The area is renowned for its richly dark vinegar and nutty flavoured millet. Every meal was a chance to taste a delicious local flavour and different style of cooking. One unforgettable occasion was the evening David and Fay invited all 25 of High-Five’s employees to a private Chinese Banquet. Though every meal was special, on my last evening they sprung a final surprise when all the student teachers arrived at the restaurant for a farewell banquet.

The energy that the High-Five Club staff and members inject into their Birthlight teaching, Birthlight training, and social entertaining is second to none. The training was an intensive and fun experience for all involved. The student teachers put their heart and soul into our short time together. I became not only their tutor, but their ‘English Mother’. A title I wear with pride.

I was provided with the most professional escort interpreter who through her dedication succeeded in strengthening even deeper the relationship between Birthlight and High-Five Club. Sissi was available 24/7 to interpret every aspect, whether it be training, culture or social interaction. All would be lost without Sissi.

Clockwise  ‘Sissy Escort interprets at every step’, ‘High-Five teachers’, 'Sissy hits target in ancient art of archery ’, 'High-Five teachers'

Let us wish a big Birthlight success to the High Five Club and all involved in its Birthlight classes, daily activities and running of the centre. We look forward eagerly to subsequent Birthlight training at High-Five Parent-Child Club in the not too distant future.