A background in art has helped Kirsty Lathangie create a magical world of sensory play for children in Dundee.
Kirsty, 31, runs Dundee and Perth Toddler Sense, an adventure play activity centre for kids aged from 13 months to four years old.
The classes are held at Showcase the Street’s dance studios and give children a comfortable, safe place to develop physical, communication, social and intellectual skills in a fun way.
Kirsty didn’t start out with a career working with young children in mind.
She said: “I went to university in Dundee and actually studied fine art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art.
“It is very different from what I am doing now but the class can be very creative so my arty mind definitely helps.”
During her studies, Kirsty was nanny to a little boy and from doing that she knew she was interested in working with kids.
“I was his nanny from when he was two until he was four so that gave me an insight into how important those ages are in a child’s development,” she said.
“I knew from then I was really interested in working with children, especially younger kids. I got so much enjoyment from working with them.”
More than three years ago, Kirsty visited the Baby Sense classes which are also held at Showcase the Street’s studios.
Organiser Claire Puzey told Kirsty the area was crying out for a Toddler Sense class as the nearest was in Dunfermline.
Kirsty said: “I was put in touch with the regional management for Toddler Sense in Glasgow and went to visit their classes.
“I went to Bristol to be trained and just knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Kirsty went on to open her own Toddler Sense class three years ago and was helped by advisers from Business Gateway to learn about bookkeeping.
“Business Gateway was absolutely fantastic at teaching me all about the business side that I would have known nothing about,” she added.
Each week Kirsty sets up the area using a different theme, from pirates to dinosaurs, giving the children the chance to learn and be creative using different topics.
Kirsty said: “I get enjoyment from the progress children make, while they make new friends and gain new skills and confidence before going on to nursery or school at the age of four.
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now. I absolutely love my job.”
Why is sensory play so important for children and what does it involve?
Each class lasts an hour and for the first 30 minutes the children get to explore the fun play area which has been set up.
Then the class takes a more structured approach with children taking part in “circle time” and other team activities.
Kirsty said: “At 13 months, which is the youngest age I work with, children are starting to walk so it is really important to allow them to explore and get on their feet in a safe and comfortable environment. It really improves their physical skills.
“As they get older and start to communicate, the classes help with their communication and social skills before they go off to nursery and we teach them responsibility like tidying up. It is fantastic for them.”