Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mum and Toddler Playgroup in Kuala Lumpur: Garden International School Playgroup

I saw a posting for the playgroup last week when my issue of Expat magazine arrived. I know, I know.. I'm no longer the expat, I'm back to native status (yeah! "Bumiputera"!) but I was looking for info on international schools for Connor and so I signed up for a free sub to the mag.

Most of my mum friends are working mums. So they can't exactly come out to play with us on a weekday. On weekends, most of them want to spend time with family and that's something I understand completely because that's the only time most of them get to spend with kids and hubby.

So I looked and looked for a toddler playgroup for Connor. I just wanted him to be able to play with some kids, run around and tire himself out and Mummy can make some new mum friends. Every website I checked said to join the ibu playgroups but they've been shut down due to some legal problems. Boo-hoo. The GIS playgroup was the answer to my prayers.

It's held at the GIS Early Education Centre which is separate from GIS main campus in Mont Kiara. The group meets every Tuesday at 9:00 - 10:30am. Mummy was a bundle of nerves the night before our first visit to the playgroup. Would my son be the social outcast? Would the other kids be bigger and older and therefore more liable to bash Connor with the shape sorter? Would Connor freak out and cling to my leg all the time we were there? If you think you were nervous your first day at school, you have no idea what your mother was going through on your behalf.

Turns out I needn't have worried. Connor was a little hesitant for the first few minutes when we got in and he looked at all the strange new faces smiling back at him. One of the mums came to greet me and her little girl (about 4yo) looked solemnly at Connor. "Connor, say hi." And my little boy managed a soft "Hi..." in his little boy voice before being overcome by bashfulness and hid his face in my shoulder.

But the moment he spotted the ride-on toy (Oooh.. wheels! Typical male - loves wheels more than the women in his life), he was off and running. I didn't exactly see him again for the next hour or so. Mummy enjoyed herself chatting with the other mums who were all very friendly while Connor played till he dropped. I was really pleased and proud that Connor didn't cry or cling to me. I suppose it's because he was used to the creche at the American Club in Jakarta where there were other older kids screaming around him. Because he's an only and not used to having other kids around him all the time, I'd thought he might find it frightening. So I'm really happy that it turned out well for him.

The playgroup is organised by the PTA of GIS and it's really an excellent way for families to check out the school facilities and activities. They have lots of toys and the playroom is next to the indoor exercise area. So when the big kids are done with their exercise, they open up that area to us and the younger kids had a blast running around.

There's about 10 mums there now. The children are mostly around 2-3yo I think. Connor was the youngest one there at 17 months. They have some snacks, milk and hot drinks on hand so you needn't really bring snacks for your little ones.

We enjoyed ourselves very much and I'm looking forward to this weekly activity for us. The GIS playgroup is located at:
The GIS Early Years Center
No. 1 Jalan 41/70A
Desa Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur

How to get there:
1. Coming from KL, you will turn right at the traffic lights to Desa Sri Hartamas. Turning left will take you to Sri Hartamas while continuing straight on will take you to PJ/Bangsar.
2. Take the first left turn after the traffic lights. That will be Jln 32/70A I think.
3. Follow the road until you see a left turn. Take that left, it will be Jln 48/70A.
4. Go along the road until you see a security post on your left. Turn there and take the first right turn (not the road immediately parallel to the main road but the next). You'll be able to see the EYC from that junction.

See you there!


  1. Hello there,
    I saw your post while I was searching through internet on the toddler playgroup for my 20mths old girl. May I know if there is any requirement to join the group? Thanks!

  2. Hi there! No requirements, just turn up and enjoy. They're closed for the summer hols now and will only start again in Aug. Do say hello if you see us!

  3. Hi Mrs Top Monkey,...
    Your information is absolutely great ! My little Isaac is 2 years old. I'll definitely have him over as its just minutes from our place. Likewise, he's my only child and everyone else at home are adults. Super clingy on me!! By the way, any fees to join ?

    Cheers and thanks... Avy - 012-3932809

  4. Hi there Avy! Sent you an sms as that's quicker. Hope to see you and Isaac soon!

  5. Hi Mrs Top Monkey,
    How difficult is it to get a taxi from there when come to leave ? I don't know KL road too well left home 10 years ago coming back Oct with English husband and 2 1/2 Ana

  6. Hi there! I've never tried taxi there so not sure. There is a taxi stand within walking distance but that road is not too busy so may be hard to get a taxi. Alternatively, you can call for a taxi or ask for a ride from the mums to a main road where you can catch one. If we're there, you can hitch a ride with us no problem.

  7. Hi Mrs. Top Monkey

    I was wondering if you can help me. We are about to move to Kuala Lumpur and I need some info on Nurseries for my daugter. She just turned 2 in Nov. Do you perhaps have an idea of the timings & the names of nurseries??? This will be a great help for me :))

    Thank you & best regards.

  8. Hi mrs top monkey
    my dauther is 3 months and I'm looking for playgroup at her age. I've searched a lot on net but couldn't find anything.
    Could you help me if your class has any offer for my baby or you know another playgroup baby for my little one?

  9. Anon: Hi there! Hope you'll enjoy your move. I'm not sure which part of KL you'll be moving to. We're close to the Bangsar/Hartamas area and I'm about to write a long overdue post on preschools. Hope you'll find that post useful!

    Eli: Let's see... the ibu playgroup used to meet Mondays at Jungle Gym, Bangsar Shopping Ctr. There were little crawlers there as well, they and their mums just sat somewhere quieter and let them loose. However, I think they've stopped meeting there since ibu has got a new HQ. Google ibu playgroups in KL and you can call them for more info. I've never been to their playgroups but I've been told they are good.

  10. Hi Mrs Top Monkey,

    My family are moving to KL at the end of this month and my children will be attending the Garden school. I also have a 2 1/2 year old girl , Ruby, and I am looking for a playgroup for her. Is the GIS playgroup still on and do I have to put her name down or do I just turn up. What days is it on also. Thanks Jackie

  11. HI Jackie, welcome to Kuala Lumpur! Hope you enjoy your stay here.

    I've just called up GIS to check and yes, the playgroup is still on. However, it's now on Monday 930-1030am. No fees, no registration - just turn up and have fun!

  12. Hi, I have a 10 month old baby and would like to attend more mother and baby groups, but am concerned he may be too small for this group. Do you know what the age range is?


  13. Hi Mrs. Top Monkey,

    We just moved to KL. I am a working mom and i am actually looking for toddler playgroups on Saturday for my 17 months old son? Would you know any? Stumbling onto your blog is a huge relief and I hope you could recommend me some toddler playgroups. Thank you. Rina

  14. Hi Mrs.Top Monkey, I really enjoyed reading your blog. I tried calling the Garden school playgroup but to no avail. I am a Malaysian married to a foreigner and am looking at the few of the play schools that you've listed and some of these schools only take years 4 and up. My son is 3 and my daughter is 19 months old. If you know of a place where they run programmes for children around my kids age, please let me know. Thank you. Shrm.

  15. Hi mums! Sorry for the late reply as I'd been busy with offline matters.

    I've been to playgroups where there are babies who can't even sit up yet. They just balance themselves in mummy's arms while mummy chats with her friends and it's just fine. Most playgroups we used to go to are mixed age... most children can at least toddle or can sit up though. Try them out and see and watch out for the older children who can be rough without knowing it.

    Shrm, the Garden Early Years Centre is quite peculiar. I find it very difficult to get in touch with them unless I call early in the morning, they don't seem to want to answer phones in the afternoon. Tulip, My Montessori school take children from 18 months onwards. Julia Gabriel has a group for 18 months onwards but I think it's only 1x a week? If you are in Toys R Us, they sell a child education guide that is very helpful as it lists lots of schools by area. Hope it helps!

  16. Hi Rina, I'm sorry but I don't know of any playgroups on Sat. You can try ibu... they are a support group for mums (and dads!) and they are in Sri Hartamas.

  17. Hello there
    I am an Indian now living in UAE.My husband has got job in KL.My son will b 4 years in this OCT. We will be shifting to KL most probably in OCT.
    Could you plz suggest some good playgroups for him.

  18. Hi there, I hope you'll enjoy your time in KL once you're here! It depends on where you are in KL, I don't know where you will be living. I actually don't go to playgroups anymore as Connor has started school and that is more than enough to stimulate and tire him for the day. The only playgroups I know of now are run by ibu, you can check out their playgroups schedule at the link I provided above.

  19. Hi all,
    Anybody knows tomorrow play group in ttdi at what time?

  20. Hi There. I am Malaysian, but have been living in Ireland the past 4 years and have started a family here. We are moving to KL next week and my 2 year old loves going to Mother and Toddler groups here, so I would love to continue that over in KL as well as meet other like-minded mom's. Would you be able to tell me what sorts of playgroups are available and where I can go to? Is the GIS one still in operation? I will go there once we have settled in if it is. Thank you!!!!

    1. Hiya and welcome home! If you are a stay-at-home-mum and your little one isn't yet attending nursery/playschool (which normally have sessions in the morning), I would highly recommend you join Ibu. They have morning playgroups at their HQ in Sri Hartamas and many expat mums I know love the sessions. It gives their little ones some playtime (with new toys!) and they get to meet other mums. They have playgroups by age group as well as a reading playgroup.

      I haven't attended any playgroup for almost 2 years now as Connor has been in school. The only playgroups I know for sure are still up and running are the ones run by Ibu. Well worth a look.

  21. Hello! Thank you for the wonderful post.
    I am interested in joining IBU. I have seen their HQ before, I think it was in the middle of a neighbourhood, along a quite big road. do you think I can get taxi from there to go back home to Bangsar?

    1. Hi Cloe, they've moved to Sri Hartamas and apparently it's quite easy to get a taxi from there. I've never been there myself so I don't know what it's like, sorry!

  22. Hi, can you advise whether the garden school playgroup is still active? Wo can I contact to find out more about it? Thanks

  23. Hi there, I am new here, can anyone tell if the playgroup is still exist? How is the fee looks like? and what kind activities for toddler and mummies?