HOW TO EXPAND KIDS’ HORIZONS
A group of South West London mums are teaching children how to apply school education to real-life situations, boosting the confidence of young learners and expanding their horizons in the process
Watching a three-year-old perfect a downward dog, or a six-year-old present her own clothing label, may seem a little unorthodox, but for London mums Belen Dominguez, Emilie Laura and Lee Klabin-Grant, teaching little ones these adult activities is their passion – and has now become their new day jobs.
In August last year these three mums created Little Xperts, an educational business providing after school and holiday courses aimed at introducing children to the world of professional vocation. Teaching yoga for ages two to 12, Belen’s classes emphasise the importance of mindfulness in an increasingly stressful world. Emilie holds cooking classes focusing on the education of healthy eating practices and creative food presentation, and Lee teaches fashion design, where children five years and older learn the steps to produce their very own pieces.
Belen, Emilie and Lee have each had successful careers both in the UK and overseas. A yoga instructor, professional chef and fashion designer respectively, the three women created Little Xperts together after the birth of each of their children. Wanting to re-connect with their professional roots without the demanding hours and time away from their children, together they founded an idea to combine adult professions with children’s play time.
The philosophy behind Little Xperts is to associate school learning with practical and creative applications. ‘It makes the subjects they’re learning in school more relevant to them,’ says Lee. ‘So, if they are sitting there in English class thinking, “why do I need to study all this grammar?”, or in maths class “why do I need to study subtraction or angles or algebra?”, then when you ask them a question in fashion class like “triple this measurement because that’s your waist size”, they think they actually need to know this stuff. They start to take their regular subjects more seriously because they see that they might need them for something as a profession in the future.’
The courses are unique in that learning is progressive, stressing the concept of seeing a project from its planning to its final production. Lee’s ten week Fashion Design course allows children the opportunity to gather inspiration, learn techniques, and produce a final collection of individually designed pieces. ‘They can explain how they got from the mood board ideas all the way through to a finished collection. They see the entire design process,’ she explains.
Classes are planned for a maximum of five students, allowing each teacher a dedicated amount of one-on-one time with each child. Mums and dads are kept in the learning loop, encouraged to stay and watch, or discuss their child’s learning with teachers afterwards.
The popularity of Little Xperts since its launch eight months ago has seen a host of new classes pencilled in for this summer, including journalism, chess and photography. ‘The children’s response has been great because they get to see what their parents do when they go to work, so when mummy or daddy go to the office, now they get to see what they actually do or what’s involved,’ says Lee.
Each from completely different career backgrounds, united by their love for children’s learning, Belen, Emilie and Lee have certainly created something exceptional. They hope that over time Little Xperts can expand to include more parents teaching a range of skills to the next generation throughout London – and even across the world.
Words: Phillipa Rust
68 Ellerton Road SW18 3NN; 07785 716 247; littlexperts.co.uk