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MAGAZINE | 5
MELANIE PATIENCE is truly a woman of patience.
She is a mother of three, a wife, a student and a
Class Facilitator at Babygarten. She told WOW
laughingly "Babygarten began out of my need to
find things to do with my rambunctious toddler."
The mother of two girls, ages 7 and 5, and a 19-
month-old boy, related that she started Babygarten
because there were no parks or playgrounds that
were age appropriate, easily accessible, or felt safe
for children at the time. "I was expecting my second
daughter and found it hard to imagine just staying
at home with them all day with only the walls to
climb," she added.
"I took the leap and made an investment in books
and the curriculum, and almost exactly six years
ago, had my first class at Movie Towne with just a
handful of mothers." Babygarten has since grown,
and Patience is quite amazed by its growth. "I
thought it was going to be a little hobby; something
to do with my girls until they went to school and I
went back to work," she said. "I surprised myself...
that's for sure."
So what exactly is Babygarten? It's a 'Mommy and
Me' type of class, geared towards babies and tod-
dlers from newborn to two years old. Babygarten is
not a school or drop-off playgroup. It is a place
where caregivers and babies go to sessions once
per week and enjoy a programme that includes in-
teractive songs, rhymes, stories and play.
Located at Caboodle Gifts on the corner of Long Cir-
cular and Perigod Roads in Maraval, Babygarten is a
curriculum that was developed for use in the library
system in the USA. The programme is structured
around the acquisition of pre-literacy skills, which
encompass phonemic and phonological awareness,
print motivation and awareness, narrative skills, let-
ter recognition and vocabulary.
The founder, who is also pursuing her degree in Psy-
chology, explained that the classes at Babygarten
are themed, and she enjoys extending that theme
(in some fashion) into the free play, particularly at
the sensory table. "Mothers are always asking if I
like to clean," laughed Patience, "but I get a thrill
when I see a baby engaged and engrossed with the
activity I've set out for him or her. Sometimes there
is mess but I think it's a success when they don't
want to leave."
Patience set out to get her children educated as
early as possible. This, she found, was a challenge,
since it was difficult to get quality reading material
for very young children and babies locally. As a re-
sult, she spent years researching, reading and order-
ing books online, both for use in her classes and to
read at home. Last year, she came up with the bril-
liant idea of bringing in those books to sell at Caboo-
dle Gifts. "I'm not teaching babies to read," Patience
insisted. "What we do in the class, hopefully, is instil
a love of books, learning, exploration and creativity."
So is it challenging being a mother, wife, student
and class facilitator? Indeed it is. Patience is up by
5:00 a.m. and goes to bed way after 10:30 p.m. every
night. As for what inspires her to do all this, the Su-
permom said, "My husband encourages me to live
fearlessly and take risks. I'm also a talker and think
better after I've talked it out, and he's a great lis-
tener. My children are a source of ideas when I see
what they are interested in, and sometimes when I
experiment, trying to figure out what will engage
When asked what is her proudest moment thus far,
the mother disclosed, "It may sound silly, but there
was a day a few years ago when my girls were
barely toddlers (in fact, the younger was still a
baby), I had a moment where I realised that they
were speaking to one another. They were having a
If she ever discontinues Babygarten, she hopes to
position herself professionally in something related
to literacy and young children and families. "Ideally,
though, Babygarten will continue to thrive, and I can
expand to a larger location with many more offer-
ings. It took a year to find this permanent location
that we now have, so it may take another five or ten
years before I see the rest of my vision executed,
but I'm enjoying the journey thus far."
By Bavina Sookdeo
For more information on Babygarten you can check them out on
Facebook under Babygarten (Trinidad and Tobago) or Caboodle
Gifts. You can also email Patience at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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