Children join weekend class to get closer to nature

Children join weekend class to get closer to nature
Homemade fun: A group of children play with homemade Water Apollo toys during a weekend class held by Peyapeyo, a parenting and child education community, in Katulampa, Bogor, West Java, on Saturday.

Holding a long rope, a line of children carefully strolled along the Kalibaru River in Katulampa subdistrict, Bogor, West Java, on Saturday morning, while parents and facilitators of Peyapeyo, a parenting and child education community, asked them to watch out for motorcyclists.

"Say 'excuse me' to the men," said facilitator Aris M. Luthfi when they passed a group of men near the river.

Aris then asked whether the children knew where they were be going. "To the mountain!" said 4-year-old Kimi loudly, to the laughter of the other children.

Kimi was among dozens of children aged between three and seven who joined a weekend class themed "Knowing Water Better", held by Peyapeyo.

Aris told the children they would visit Katulampa sluice gate, upstream of the Ciliwung River.

As they arrived at the destination, the children were given a short explanation of the function of the gate and how the water level was monitored, which was crucial to predicting if floods would hit Jakarta.

The children were also taught the importance of keeping the water clean, as it was the source of water in the capital.

The visit to the gate was part of a busy schedule that morning.

The children also enthusiastically made so-called Water Apollo toys, then learned about volcanic eruptions in the nearby Kampoeng Air restaurant, which also had a natural kindergarten.

Water Apollo toys consist of a long narrow plastic bag filled with brightly coloured water and a Styrofoam ball. The children learned that although they repeatedly turned the plastic upside down, the ball and the air bubble would keep facing up.

Meanwhile, the children learned about volcanoes with Play Doh. They used a mixture of detergent, food colouring, baking soda and vinegar to create the effects of an eruption.

San Bono Pratikno, the parent of 4-year-old Bumi, hoped his son would learn as much as possible from the activities, so that his love for nature and creativity would develop.

"I was raised in a village, so this kind of activity was my cup of tea. However, my son rarely goes out and always stays at home after school," he said, adding that he wanted his son to be more sociable as he did not have many friends his age in the neighborhood.

Yoni Ania Desela, 26, drove from her house in Serpong, South Tangerang, so her two children could enjoy the activities in Bogor.

She said she rarely took her children, Kimi and Kama, to shopping malls during the weekend.

"If they do not have any courses, I find alternative activities that can trigger their creativity and curiosity," she said, adding that the weekend class was one of them.

Dieta Hadi, the co-founder of Peyapeyo, said the idea of holding a weekend class came up because many parents were still confused about alternatives for their children on weekends.

"Parents in Bogor usually take their children to Bandung or Jakarta on the weekends, while Jakartans who visit Bogor usually only go to restaurants or factory outlets," she said.

She said Peyapeyo planned to hold a similar event each month.

Dieta, who also owned a daycare centre, said enthusiasm for the events was quite high.

"We initially held the event for only 20 children, but have since increased the quota to 35 children," she said.

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