Ex-teacher develops new style of play sessions after cancer ‘changed everything’

A former teacher has launched a new style of play sessions for parents who want to help their children learn in readiness for school.

Tanya Fish from Ferring launched her business Octopus Learning in June 2018 with activity subscription boxes, delivered by post.

Tanya Fish, left, launches Octopus Stay and Play. Picture: Steve Robards SR20011004

Tanya Fish, left, launches Octopus Stay and Play. Picture: Steve Robards SR20011004

But three months later, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and the experience changed her priorities.

She wanted to find a way of working that enabled her to be with her three-year-old daughter Poppy and developed Octopus Stay and Play, building on the educational characters she had already created.

The Stay and Play sessions at Ferring Village Hall are for parents and pre-school children aged two to five. They launched with a Christmas party on December 20 and the new term started on Friday.

Tanya said: “This is more me, it is like setting up a classroom and it is hands on. I wanted to do something that fitted around my daughter and something where she could come with me.

“I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in September 2018 and have been undergoing immunotherapy treatment. Thankfully I went into remission in June, although I still have immunotherapy, but this experience has just changed everything, it has changed me and my priorities.”

Tanya was a primary school teacher in West Sussex for nearly 20 years and her son Max, five, is at East Preston Infant School.

Tanya said: “A lot of friends were asking how to get their children ready for school. They didn’t know what to aim at.

“I plan it like a reception classroom with a theme for the month. The parents stay with the children and the idea is they do the activities with them, inspiring further learning opportunities at home.”

There are eight octopus characters, linked to the seven different areas of the early years curriculum plus an added wellbeing element.

The sessions are at Ferring Village Hall on Fridays from 12.45pm to 2pm and must be booked in advance.

The aim is to build in further sessions at different venues in Worthing during the week and Tanya hopes to offer franchise opportunities for other mums who want to start a business that fits around their children.

Find Octopus Learning on Facebook for more information or email tanyafish8@icloud.com to book.