Leeds children's presenter goes viral after taking preschool Fun and Phonics classes worldwide
A Leeds businesswoman has found viral success after taking her toddler preschool classes worldwide during the pandemic.
Claire Noonan, from Cookridge, runs baby and toddler preschool programme Fun and Phonics.
Claire hosted classes in community halls and soft play centres across Leeds, before the coronavirus pandemic put an abrupt end to the sessions last March.
Determined to continue educating young children, Claire moved her sessions to Zoom.
The Zoom sessions proved difficult to run, so she launched Facebook live and pre-recorded sessions - which are a viral hit with parents and children.
Claire, 42, said: “I had to stop sessions overnight. I took a day to work through Zoom and started live classes, but some of the children are six months old, with the younger ones it was like talking to a blank screen.
“It was really difficult and I found it draining. So over the summer, I hired some professional recording equipment from Yorkshire Television Studios and set up an on-demand service.
“I started Facebook lives which were reaching more than 10,000 children. I had some fantastic feedback, with parents saying it was keeping them sane.
"It’s educational. And it kept me going too!”
Children from across the world have tuned into Claire's sessions, helping her to reach a wider audience than she ever could have imagined.
"I don’t think I would have expanded without the pandemic", Claire said.
"I would have been happy just going round halls in Leeds. But that will always be the main core of my business, there is nothing better than seeing a child grow and develop and start school with the skills they have learnt."
Claire is concerned about the impact of the pandemic on young babies, some of whom will never have interacted with other children.
She is relaunching her baby and toddler sessions when restrictions are eased on April 12 and has had to book in extra sessions to meet the demand.
Claire added: “Children need that interaction. I’m coming across parents who had babies in lockdown, who say their babies are not socially interactive or aware of anything around them.
“I’ve had to put extra classes on already to meet the demand. We focus on their development through rhythm, singing, sensory and lights.
“It’s been difficult but I’ve adapted along the way."
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.