TREEHOUSE FOR TODDLERS
By Asian Beacon
In our last part of Treehouse for Toddlers, Eevyn explained the importance and nature of the activities they have at Treehouse. As an alternative to the digital dependent lifestyle that kids nowadays have. Here she continues on adding how she believes God has planted the desire in her to start Treehouse since her younger days.
Eevyn explained that while she had her first son, she noticed something interesting. Children who go to playgroups are able to follow instructions and cooperate better with others.
“Their emotional needs are being satisfied at this point. This kind of thing is very important,” she explained.
Because of this, Eevyn decided to start something that would benefit her second son.
“When I had my second child, I was working for my father, and somehow I felt this kind of education was much needed in Malaysia. So, I set up a small playgroup for my friend’s school. Somehow, I felt that this was God’s calling as when I was younger, I had a prophecy that I would be in the children’s ministry. I had no interest then, but when I had my own child, I did a lot research on how children should learn, and found that play base learning was the way. My dream was big and its everything to me, but God spoke to me through a Bible verse that just having an interest is not good enough. You need to have the knowledge and to take action. So, I continued at my friend’s school for half a year, and then after that I started a playgroup of my own,” she explained.
She explained that the Treehouse syllabus helps to develop social skills, and keep children in touch with their emotions. The teachers are there to guide them.
“Our motto for Treehouse is to create a space to release their emotions, and at the same time feel loved. Aside from being surrounded by digital devices, most kids are taken care of by their grandparents or maids. They are usually just being monitored, leaving their emotional needs unmet. At Treehouse, the teachers know how to create a loving environment for them, and we teach and guide parents to do the same too, so it is more than just about playing and having fun,” she said.
Based on her experience she noted that there are two types of parenting styles which are not good for the children. One is being too controlling, the other is not caring at all. In both situations, most children end up with parents giving them an IPad or smart tablet to entertain them, as they either cannot handle the children or are too busy.
She warned that by keeping the children constantly preoccupied with the screen does a lot of damage to their mental health.
“Usually if the kid brought to our place is labelled as troubled by the parents, we will ask how long their screen time with their digital devices is. It’s easy to guess the cause as having too much screen time will shorten their attention span and ability to focus. These kids don’t know how to play. They always dash here and there, and feel restless. After we asked the parents to reduce their children’s screen time, their behaviour changed. They know how to play and interact with other children, thus becoming more sociable. Their attention spend will also be longer, and they can actually play with their toys much longer instead of jumping from one toy to the next,” she stated.
Although not mainly focused on religion, Treehouse does celebrate Christian celebrations such as Easter and Christmas.
“We don’t specifically make Treehouse a Christian playgroup. The reason is because when we were contemplating on this issue, God led us to see that children from all backgrounds needed our help. By opening it to all races, we have the ability to reach out to the parents also. When we first started, we were praying whether Treehouse should be a Christian playgroup. But after praying, we felt that it was not the way God wanted to lead us. We were led to make it suitable for the marketplace and not just for ministry. This is because everyone can come in, and we can show our love to them. Love speaks louder than words, and we really care about their wellbeing than just about making profit,” she said.
She added that thanks to their work they have managed to reach out and share the gospel to many, teachers and parents included.
“One teacher has come to know Christ and follow us to church. Aside from that, there are many testimonies of children and parents who have come to the playgroup and have been changed. We had a boy, who was diagnose with ADHD. His mum was on the verge of depression. He came in mid-January 2019. Now it is May. After we gave his mother some advice, we asked her to send her son for therapy, and at the same time allow him to attend the playgroup. Now he can even sit down and listen to the teacher in class in Treehouse. The therapist said he has improved a lot. From the changes of the child’s behaviour, we were able to encourage the mother to come to church, to get her emotional needs met by God. She is so much happier now and also happy with the program that her child is attending,” Eevyln testified.
She also added that Treehouse went further than that to help the mother. They also allowed the boy to study at a discounted rate as financially the mother was not doing so well.
She added that there was another child who came over and could not make eye contact with people. She was living in her own world, because her parents are working, and she was taken care of by the maid. The maid just gave her an IPad to play with. She did respond when they tried to talk to her.
“Initially I thought she was having some issues at home. But later on, I found out it was because of the IPad. Her parents kept sending her here, and after that she left and was able to join a normal kindergarten,” Eevyln testified.
Because of this Eevyln believed that God is able to work through Treehouse to reach out to the non-believers whether they are teachers or parents.