A Developmental Pediatricians’ Tips for the Best Holiday Gifts for Children of Any Age

Best Holiday GiftsNow that the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers have been consumed, the holiday season is officially upon us and for many families this is a time when we begin to shop for holiday gifts for the children in our lives. Here are a few suggestions of some developmentally appropriate toys for the holidays.


0-12 months: Babies are attracted to bright colors and objects with high-contrast patterns. Their play involves watching and exploring their own bodies. Look for multisensory toys with a variety of textures and toys that are soft, lightweight, easily grasped, washable, and safe to go in the mouth. Good toys in this category include activity mats and gyms, mobiles, and plush toys. Mirrors help develop self-awareness and identity. In the later end of this age children become interested in cause and effect and container play so consider pop-up toys, stacking and sorting toys such as nesting cups and boxes, and squeeze and squeak toys.

1-2 years: Children in this age-group are increasingly interested in cause and effect activities such as dumping and filling, building and knocking down, and pushing and pulling. Building play starts to emerge towards the later portion of this age range so lightweight blocks or building materials are good options. Blocks are also a great example of open-ended play items that can encourage creativity and language development. Other suggestions include shape sorters, cars with handles or short cords, or simple trains. A riding horse can also be introduced at this age provided the child’s feet touch the floor or base of the horse when they are seated. Musical instruments such as xylophones and small tambourines are also fun.

2-3 years: Pretend play is now emerging and building play becomes more sophisticated as a child’s fine motor skills become more developed. Realistic props help enhance pretend play. Additional building blocks and materials and push-pull toys that resemble real life objects such as strollers, shopping carts, and vacuum cleaners are very popular at this age. Straddle ride-on toys and slow-moving three-wheeled scooters with wide standing platforms are fun and encourage physical development and self-esteem. Additional suggestions include easels and non-toxic finger paints. Play with simple insert puzzles may enhance attention span and visual discrimination.

3-4 years: Pretend play is at its peak in the preschool years and there are a variety of toys to encourage this sort of creative play such as action figures and dolls, playhouses, doll houses and thematic play scenes, dress up materials, and tools and props that resemble real items such as medical kits, cash registers, and cooking/kitchen sets.

4-6 years: Game play emerges more in elementary school as attention span increases and turn-taking behavior emerges. Many children begin to enjoy traditional board and card games at this age such as ‘Go Fish,’ and ‘Uno’ as well as matching or memory games. Train and car sets with multiple cars that detach and tracks are popular at this age along with more simple sewing and craft kits, water colors, and stamps with ink pads. Two-wheeled scooters and bicycles with training wheels (with the appropriate protective gear such as helmets) are popular gift ideas.

6-9 years: Children now have the ability to work on multi-step sequences and have the fine motor dexterity to begin complex model kits and more complex craft kits such as beading, jewelry kits, and yarn looms. Other ideas include jigsaw puzzles with 100-500 pieces and strategy games such as checkers. Skateboards, two-wheeled bicycles without training wheels and equipment based on your child’s interests such as cameras, roller skates and sports equipment are additional options.

9-12 years: Children in this age range are developing their skills from the sports and activities of their earlier years. Tailor your gifts based on your child’s interests and abilities. Examples include more advanced jigsaw puzzles, trivia games, and sports or recreational equipment such as camping gear.


Manage expectations

Children do not require a large amount of gifts or toys to have a magical holiday experience. In fact, too many toys and gifts can overwhelm young children and there is evidence to show that fewer toys may help young children focus better and play more creatively with the toys they have. Set your own limits ahead of time on the right number of gifts that makes sense for your family and consider including extended family members in the conversation.

Safety

Of utmost importance is ensuring whichever toy you select is safe for the age of your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a variety of tips to aid in safe toy selection.

Catherine Workman, MD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and a developmental pediatrician at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Weekend Activities for Kids in NYC

Weekend Activities

Who doesn’t look forward to the weekend? Even the little ones need time to let loose and have some fun. Weekends are the perfect time for kids to try some fresh and fun activities. Here’s our list for the best weekend activities your kids will love!

 

Wildlife Conservation Society Spend your weekend up close to animals with an interactive class at the five zoos and aquarium throughout NYC. Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Bronx Zoo, NY Aquarium / Ages 2+         

Family Breakfast With The Animals: Primates

THE ZOO: Jungle World Mornings

 

The Fashion Class. The Fashion Class focuses on fun and fabulous fashion themed classes where students learn to sew in a creative environment. Midtown West / Ages 6+

Beginner Sewing Class for Kids

Fashion Design & Illustration for Kids

Pattern & Stitch Advanced Sewing for Kids

Fashion Design & Sewing for Teens

 

New York Stage of Mind. New York Stage of Mind provides exceptional performance-focused music education. Classes include private lessons in voice, piano, guitar, and more for all ages. Long Island City / Ages 3+

Piano Lessons

Singing Classes

 

Physique Swimming. Designed for swimmers to move smoothly from one level to the next as they progress in their swimming capabilities. Throughout NYC / Ages 4 months to 7

Me and My Shadow

Beginner 1: Water Exploration

Beginner 2: Primary Skills

 

Eastside Westside Music Together. For children from birth (yes, birth!) to five years, is based on the premise that all children are musical and have the same innate ability to learn music as language. UWS, UES, Midtown.

Music Together (Babies)

Music Together (Mixed Ages)

 

14th Street Y. Bring a friend and enjoy the relaxed environment where little ones explore and play together. Stuyvesant Town / Ages 2 months to 3

Indoor Playground

Sing Along

Kid Friendly Show on Theater Row NYC

The Emperor’s New Clothes and More Magical Stories

Kid Friendly Show on Theater Row

The Emperor’s New Clothes and More Magical Stories opened on Sunday on Theater Row and Kidz Central Station was fortunate to attend.  This kid friendly performance is based on four short tales by Hans Christian Andersen as told by four central characters. The show features: The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Nightingale, and The Ugly Duckling.

The show begins as a girl sits down on a Central Park bench next to a man reading a story book. A gust of wind blows the papers out of his book and she helps to pick them up. He then invites her to read the book and after some initial resistance, she agrees and becomes a part of the story herself! Her journey takes her through many ups and down including a scam to dress an emperor in invisible clothes, saving a harmonious nightingale and a little duckling who realizes she is as beautiful as a swan.

Anderson’s classic children’s tales are presented in a clear and easy to follow storyline with humor and contemporary twists. There was no shortage of giggles and cackles in that theater!  The 4 performers fully embodied each character while effortlessly transitioning from one tale to another. In addition, the magic came to life with the incredible music, sound effects, and lighting. We were submerged in the story eagerly waiting for what’s to come next. Come early to enjoy pre-show activities and/or stay after to take pictures with members of the cast!

We were so happy to learn that a sensory friendly performance is offered on December 8 @11am and designed to create a welcoming environment for families with children on the autism spectrum and related conditions. Slight adjustments are made to the performance such as the reduction of loud sounds and flashing or jarring lights, availability of sensory tools such as fidgets and earplugs, a designated quiet area in the lobby, a relaxed atmosphere in which audience members can talk throughout, and available Autism specialists on site to provide support.

Click here to buy tickets to The Emperor’s New Clothes and More Magical Stories!

November 24 – December 22, 2018

Best for ages 5-8

Runs for approximately 50 minutes

Theatre Row, 410 W42nd Street, NY, NY 10036

Tickets: $29.25 General | $49.25 Premium

Stroller parking and booster seats available

Head of the Class Mom: Jacelyn Lisette

Head of the Class MOM

Meet Head of the Class Mom, Jacelyn Lisette, Founder of Midtown Movement and Dance Company  Located in Midtown East/Murray Hill, Midtown Movement and Dance Company offers Mommy & Me, many levels of Ballet/Tap, and Hip Hop dance classes. Take a Free Trial Class.

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Midtown Movement and Dance?

Before starting Midtown Movement and Dance, I made a living as a freelance performer and teaching artist. I managed to find a perfect balance between both of my passions: performing and working with children. I was living the dream and truly enjoying what I was doing. Unfortunately, this line of work offered little security, no health benefits, and wouldn’t permit me to be a mother, the last dream I hadn’t yet accomplished. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to start my own company in the community where I had developed a great following of students and parents, I knew I had to close my eyes and leap. I knew that starting my own company would enable me to continue to pursue my passions and give me the flexibility to work with other great artists and eventually stay home with my newborn.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?

There is totally a balance. Maintaining it is challenging, but I try to keep a 9-5 schedule whether I am at the studio or working from home. Once it’s dinner time, I enjoy the evening with my guys! I definitely find time to unplug and be in the moment with my family, but when you run your own business somehow you are always on the clock. Getting quality time in the evenings is really important so that your mind can settle down and you can remember the reasons why you work so hard. On the weekends, my husband and I love to get out of the house. We go for a walk with our son and grab some breakfast sandwiches on the way. We take turns going to the gym, and when my son goes down for a nap, I sit in a cafe to catch up on whatever business that needs to be tended to.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.

One thing I learned just before becoming a mom that I think has made me a better parent and better worker is: have a plan and be prepared for when the plan goes off the rails. My husband and I did everything the experts tell you to do when expecting your first child. We read all the books, attended birthing classes, and made a birth plan for the big day. Then our son came up with a plan of his own and our plans went right out the window. Now, I am always prepared if my plan to go off the rails, and I feel that it’s okay to improvise when it does. When things don’t go as planned, it’s best to keep calm, respond in the moment, and go with the flow to ultimately achieve the main goal.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?

The biggest challenge has essentially been continuing to be the head of my business while starting my journey as a mom. I never quite took a maternity leave. I thought about hiring someone to oversee operations while I took 3 months off as most women do. But then, I asked my husband if he would take a leave from his city job and manage things for the business from home while being there for me and our son. It was the best decision we made because I was able to stay connected to my clients, which was important to me, and my husband had a chance to be close to us and learn how to care for his son. With this decision, I was able to continue working in some areas of my business that I am passionate about, while my husband got a chance to fully care for and bond with his son while I was working. When my son was 3 weeks old, I had to be away from him to work for a few days and although it was emotionally difficult for me, I felt good knowing that my husband would be able to care for him. It was very rewarding to be able to support my husband while he shared in the experience of caring for our newborn from the time he was born until he was 3 months old. That experience would not have been possible had it not been for my business.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?

That childcare is like paying another rent!

If you could give other parents one piece of advice, what would it be?

Go to bed early! As much as you want to stay up after your kids go to sleep and catch up on the latest episode of your favorite show, go to sleep. I can say that I don’t feel sleep deprived even though I am waking up every 3-4 hours to nurse. I try to be in bed by 9pm every night so that I can still get about 8 hours of total sleep in between night feedings. It really helps to be rested and tackle the day or go off to work and be able to perform well.

Fun Favorites:

Favorite children’s book? From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. I love this book because it appeals to every kid. I use it in all my classes and the kids have so much fun listening to the story, calling out the animals they know, and of course moving their body like the animals. After we play and explore with moving like each animal, I encourage them to say the recurring phrase loud and proud: “I can do it.” I think this is such a positive mantra for kids to learn early in life. I approach all my classes from this place. When kids seem timid or upset because a move is difficult, my teachers and I encourage them to simply try! However the students interpret the movement is a success for us because we are giving them the opportunity to grow at their individual level. I feel like I am giving them something that is more than a movement class. I am giving them the foundation for positivity in life and a deep sense of self-worth.

Favorite kids’ class? Creative movement. I love teaching creative movement because we can really play with the students’ interests while also teaching them basic movement and dance skills, mind-body awareness, and how to participate in a social setting. This class is a give and take between the teacher, the students, and the grown-ups. We come to class loaded with activities, ideas, and dramatic themes to play with, the kids come with their own instincts, and together, with the support of their grown-ups, we create and explore movement and imagination.

Favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? Right now, my son is really into strolling. He is so interested in everything going on and he is so content sitting in his stroller strolling around our neighborhood. I thought he would get upset with not seeing us but he is so happy sitting outwards facing the world! My husband and I take him out on the weekends for a long walk to our favorite breakfast spot. My son usually falls asleep and then my husband and I get some quality time to talk and catch up over breakfast.

Favorite rainy day escape? Get creative with a home improvement project. My husband and I think building IKEA furniture is so much fun! It’s like an adult puzzle! Pour me a cup of hot cocoa and I’m ready to build.

Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving: Practicing Gratitude with Your Kids

thank-youThanksgiving and the holiday season that follows are a wonderful opportunity to instill a sense of gratitude in your children and teens. We often think about gratitude as a way to show others we appreciate them or that we are thankful for the things we have when others are less fortunate. But, did you know that practicing gratitude can also help the giver?

Positive psychology finds that gratitude benefits our mental health, our friendships and connections to others, and our daily mood. What is important is feeling positive and noticing what we have and appreciate, so do not roll your eyes if your teen is grateful for his video games! Here are some ways you can practice gratitude with your child:

•Try sharing 3 things you are grateful for from your day, or have everyone say something they love about another family member at the dinner table.

•Make a Gratitude Jar or Box. Decorate the outside however you’d like with paper, paint, or stickers. Every day, write down at least three things you are grateful for on little slips of paper and add them to the jar. The jar will fill up, and you or your child can revisit the slips of paper when you need a mood lift.

•Help your child write a letter to a person they are thankful for and have them personally deliver it. They will get a boost seeing how happy that gift of gratitude makes the recipient.

•If you want to make gratefulness more of an activity at the Thanksgiving table, combine it with a fun craft. Make colorful leaves or turkey feathers out of construction paper with a prompt for everyone to write (or draw) something they are thankful for, then share answers around the table and put the leaves/feathers in the centerpiece or on a central picture of a tree or turkey. You can hang up the final project and create a nice memento of the shared meal.

While Thanksgiving is a great time to talk with your family about gratitude, it’s a practice that would benefit the family to continue year-round.

Lauren Knickerbocker, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Knickerbocker specializes in treating selective mutism and anxiety in young children, ADHD and difficulties with organization and time management, disruptive behaviors, and parent management training. She is also the co-director of Early Childhood Service at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital.

How to Recognize and Nurture Musical Talent

Musical Talent

We reached out to friend of Kidz Central Station, Nora Tombalakian, to gain her insight into how to recognize and nurture musical talent in our children.  Nora offers piano and vocal instruction as the founder of the musical school, HighNoteNYC.com. She is committed to nurturing music enthusiasts through a foundation and love for music that can last a lifetime. She has taught hundreds of students, with some for as long as 10+ years.

As a mom and a music teacher, I’m often asked the questions, “Is my child musically gifted? If so, how do I nurture his or her talent? What age is the right age to get started?” We’ll get to those answers in just a moment. First, the most important thing to recognize is that music benefits every child, not just the gifted ones.

Musical Talent

The Benefits of Music

There are numerous documented benefits beyond the sheer joy of listening to beautiful music. Ok, you are probably thinking, “Hmmmm, my child is thrashing at a drum kit or pounding notes on the piano … that’s NOT music!” It is music. At least it is the foundation for beautiful music, self-confidence and pride which is buoyed each time a child plays his/her piece perfectly for the first time. The light-bulb goes on – they connect the dots – with practice, they can improve and they can even achieve perfection; an experience of mind – body synchronicity. Earning that sense of accomplishment does wonders for a child’s personal development and self-confidence.

Structured music lessons significantly enhance children’s cognitive abilities and are correlated with better academic performance. Specifically, mental focus, attuned listening, enhanced memory, planning, language-based reasoning and more (if anyone would like the scientific research articles documenting these benefits, please contact me). Body-mind coordination is sharply improved through ear training as children learn to listen carefully with deep focus. The slight inflection of sound, the distance between sounds, the movement within a phrase of music all drive memory performance and boost pattern-recognition capabilities. Children with learning disabilities often display improved behaviors and cognitive function in response to instruction through music.

Of course, beyond the fundamentals of music theory and application, there is a universal JOY of music! Children are encouraged to have fun while learning, be happy and to embrace self-expression. I aim to inspire freedom of expression, to feel the music and encourage spontaneity and structure musical sounds. The personal growth and development, coupled with the positive change in self-esteem, is apparent to anyone who has observed a child before and after six months of music lessons. As a teacher who has witnessed this on countless occasions throughout my career, it also brings me deep, personal satisfaction and delight to observe the evolution of my student’s abilities. 😊

Musical Talent

How to Recognize Talent

Talent may not be as obvious as a Eureka! moment where your 6 year old sits at the piano and plays the new symphony s/he composed overnight. But, even as a parent who may not have much experience or knowledge with music can recognize talent if you know what to look for. When considering which age is the best age to get started, the earlier the better as they say …

Often, it is the child who makes his/her interest in music known to you. They may do so overtly with behaviors like turning music on, demonstrating an interest in a variety of music genres, singing while they are doing other tasks or simply asking you for music lessons. If you have musical instruments accessible within your home, your child will naturally gravitate towards them and attempt to self-learn. The other signs are more subtle.

For example, you may notice your child singing on pitch with startling precision and/or self-correcting when they realize that they are off-pitch. Does your child hum or tap constantly? Did they start singing and making rhythmic sounds and movements at a young age, maybe even before they were speaking in complete sentences? Perhaps s/he has an overall rhythmic way of speaking and moving. Unaided, they can play back melodies on the piano or sing songs they heard with great accuracy demonstrating terrific musical memory and melody recall. As a mom or dad you might be particularly dialed into the level of focus that your child demonstrates when s/he is listening to music.

Musical Talent

How to Nurture Talent

Okay, so you’ve established that your child has musical talent, or is at least showing some clear signs of musical interest. Now what do you do? You can take several steps to inspire a love of music and learning and a foundation that will last a lifetime.

First, talk to your child about the amount of time, dedication, discipline and concentration that is required to master a musical instrument or voice. It’s not easy! Children often get discouraged and they need positive reinforcement to keep them focused on the joy of learning music through a shared appreciation of the work it requires. Your talented child’s skills and concepts of music are already developing naturally, do whatever you can to encourage them to recognize how much they are improving and learning.

Next, select a teacher that connects with your child, inspires them and encourages them as an aspiring young musician. Good teachers understand a child’s abilities and can recognize where effort is required to master the craft by ensuring the proper level of instruction balanced with practice. Supportive parents play an equally critical role in providing the environment required to develop a talented young musician. Here, the saying, “it takes a village” certainly rings true!

Individualized instruction plus commitment are the 1-2 combination essential to develop a talented child. Musical ability is significantly correlated with amount of practice: everyone needs to recognize that this takes years and a significant investment. Rhythmic independence is also an acquired talent, not typically an innate one. Children need to practice the synchronicity of the movement of their limbs. You can count the number of musical geniuses in history on just a few fingers … for the rest of us; it takes more effort and hopefully a joyful and enriching process.

About the author

Musical TalentNora Tombalakian has a centered and holistic approach to singing, speaking and piano playing which enables her students to organically find their own creativity through supported process learning. Nora designs personal, goal-oriented curriculums with great care for each of her students to address their personal needs and learning objectives. She encourages self-expression in combination with developing technical skills such as reading music, theory, and musicality and solo performance competency.

Nora Tombalakian obtained her Masters in Music from the Manhattan School of Music in NYC. Nora is currently working toward psychotherapeutic licensure in order to further hone her teaching skills and help connect with students who have learning disabilities, anxiety or other behavioral challenges that can benefit from the joy of music.

To learn the joy of music, click here to contact Nora!

Santa is coming to NYC! At Brookfield Place

Santa Claus is coming to town…at Brookfield Place! Take your Holiday family photo. Reserve your spot now.Brookfield Place

Daily family photo sessions from Nov 23 – Dec 24 | Reserve your photo session with Santa in advance.

You are invited! Santa returns for another magical holiday season at Brookfield Place on Friday, November 23rd through December 24th. Come take part in the festivities and create lasting photo memories. Your children can enjoy Santa’s Winter Wonderland and special activity center before your session.  Also, find out about special hours for dog-friendly photo sessions and sensory-friendly programming with Autism Speaks at BFPLNY.com.

Reservations are limited. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Brookfield Place is your destination for making holiday memories. Bring the whole family for outdoor ice skating, Nutcracker performances, shopping, dining and much more. Learn more about these holiday season events and plan your visit! 

snow

Brookfield Place

230 Vesey St., Level 2

New York, NY 10281

5-Star Rated Classes and Birthday Parties

5-Star rated classes

 

 

New York City is loaded with parks, museums, classes, activities, venues, and entertainers. The choices are limitless, but as parents, we want to find the BEST activities for our kids. Kidz Central Station delivers this quality information all in one place.

 

Here are 5-Star Rated classes and birthday parties according to the best critics – Parents.


5-Star Rated Classes

  • Physique Swimming offers swim classes for kids ages 4 month to 7 years. The program is designed to help swimmers move smoothly from one level to the next as they progress in their swimming capabilities.

“All the coaches were extremely friendly and welcoming, cheering my daughter on and praising her efforts.” 

  • High Note NYC teaches children ages 3+ both piano and vocals. Through goal oriented curriculum, children learn fluent music reading, technical skill and solo performance competency. One-on-one music lessons ensure teachings are tailored to individual students’ needs with a foundation that can spam a lifetime.

“My 7 year old loves taking piano lessons with Nora! He is learning music and getting more confidence in his voice.” 

  • iHOLA! A Playgroup in Spanish, for babies 2 months- 12 years, is a grassroots organization adored equally by children and parents for it’s uniqueness where thousands of children have been aided from its early language acquisition method, iHOLA’s! unique and effortless learning process will  put your baby or young teen in a wonderful language journey with ease and joy.

“My daughter responds to many of the vocabulary words they’ve used in class”

  • Upper Manhattan Forest Kids offers outdoor educational classes for kids ages 1 to 6 years old. Classes follow the Danish philosophy of Forest Kindergarten, which encourages children to play, explore and learn in a forest or natural environment.  

“Upper Manhattan Forest Kids was an amazing class that I would recommend to every parent!”

  • 14th Street Y is a dynamic community center located in the East Village offering classes for kids of all ages: drop-ins, music, art, sports, and indoor playground, are among the many classes offered.

“Awesome class! Started off with free play, then art, then reading, then snack/storytime, and ended with bubbles and story time. Lovely teacher!” 

  • Music With James Jam sessions are for kids ages 4 months to 4 years. Classes are high energy where James plays a mixture of traditional children’s songs on the guitar, piano, harmonica, and various orchestral instruments and children sing along, dance, and play instruments with each song. Classes included animal puppets, bouncing balls, and a colorful parachute add to the fun!

“GREAT class! We love the flexibility and my son always has so much fun.” 

  • Willan Academy of Music offers music lessons for children ages 4 and up. High quality and fun music lessons can be taken at the studio or in the comfort of your own home in NYC. Lessons are personalized to your child’s individual needs in a warm and nurturing educational environment.

“Words can’t begin to express how grateful our family is for Kenji and the Willan Academy of Music. Our son is a high energy free thinking child who Kenji has turned into a musician.” 

  • The Goddard School offers a Full Day Program for children ages 5 and under. Highly trained teachers gently guide and encourage children every step of the way as they grow, develop and achieve important milestones. Children have fun while learning the skills they need for long-term success in school and in life.

“I toured the facility and was blown away by everything from the fun rock climbing wall to the spacious roofdeck playground to the amazingly nice teachers to the included healthy meals/snacks.” 

  • CenterStage classes for children ages 4 months and up are taught by distinguished professionals in the music, dance, and acting fields. Classes range from a fun weekend activity to curriculum based comprehensive workshops.

“The teachers are talented, creative and provide a warm, nurturing environment for the kids to take risks and try new things.”


5-Star Rated Birthday Parties

  • 92nd Street Y’s enthusiastic and well-trained staff lead fun-filled parties for boys and girls of all ages. From GymMaze and Jamboree parties to dancing to a circus in the sky, they offer an awesome range of birthday party themes.

“My kids loved every party they attended at 92Y! The Gym Maze party was great for my son and his friends. The facility is terrific and the staff was helpful and energetic” 

  • Chocolate Works Upper East Side will transform the birthday child and guests into Willy Wonka chocolatiers for the day! Kids make chocolate creations on the 20-foot conveyor belt, and mold and decorate their own chocolate shape to take home!

“The kids said it was the best birthday party they have ever been to – such a cute idea. The adults also had a great time.” 

  • Shake Shack is the perfect place to hold a large party! Birthday parties are held in a private rec room equipped with a 42” flat screen TV for slideshows, videos, and DVDs, and UNLIMITED Shack classics for the duration of your party. Plus, kids two and under eat free.

“Such a great deal for no wait and unlimited Shake Shack favorites!” 

  • With Eloise at the Plaza you can throw the most mahvelous affair at The Plaza Hotel. Based on one of many adventures…like in Paris or Hollywood! Eloise’s mostly companions are here to assist every step of the way to make sure the birthday girl feels like one of a kind! Presents are a must, so every guest of honor will go home with her very own special gift and all her friends will get the most interesting keepsake favor bag.

“My 3 year old absolutely loved it and asked if she could go back to the plaza the next day. Love love love it!” 

  • MusiBambino Music Program gives your child an unforgettable experience with singing their favorite songs and exploring musical instruments. They also provide a music teacher, piano accompanist, a 30-45 minute music class, and adult and specially designed kid-sized music instruments!

“The staff there is so friendly and really accommodating. Their mini instruments are so fun for the kids and they sent everyone home with a drum set which was a hit!” 

  • Galli Theater give your child the magical experience of live theater for his/her special event. Create the most amazing theater party in town! All parties are suitable for girls and boys!

“We have been to many parties in NYC and they are all usually the same. Galli’s party was a welcome change and all the kids had a blast.” 

Veterans Day Camps for Kids

Veterans Day Camps

Celebrate Veterans Day on Monday, November 12th

Celebrate our country’s military veterans on Sunday Nov 11, 2018 at the the annual New York City Veterans Day Parade, which begins @11:15am from 26th Street and Fifth Avenue and continues to 50th Street.  Then, on Monday when our kids have the day off of school, sign up for a wonderful one day camp and keep the kids busy!

Creative Drama
Play On! Studios
UWS / Ages 4-10

ART CAMP
Creatively WILD Art Studio
Brooklyn/ Ages 2-15

Robots & Science
NORY
UWS / Ages 3-7

Veteran’s Day: Future Celebrity Chef Camp
Taste Buds Kitchen
Chelsea / Ages 4-13

Coding
Launch Math + Science
UWS / Ages 5-11

Wildlife Mini-Camp
Queens Zoo
Flushing / Ages 4-9

Dinosaur Camp
Karma Kids Yoga
Union Sq / Ages 3-5

Cooking Camp
Freshmade NYC
SoHo / Ages 4-12

Investing for Moms & Dads

Daniel MazzolaWe know that our parents are interested in growing their money, especially to help take care of their children’s education and needs.  The recent stock market ups and downs likely have a lot of us worried about our investments.  We asked Daniel G. Mazzola, CFA, CPA, to write a guest post to share his insight into recent events and the basics of investing and the stock market for our parents.

Panic vs. Patience

Recently I met a fellow investment advisor who described October’s stock market decline as a “buying opportunity”, adding “I love when this happens”.

I doubt whether the typical investor shares his enthusiasm. A few bad weeks erased nearly a year’s worth of portfolio gains. I myself will discard October’s monthly statement in the trash without so much as a brief glance at the bottom line valuation.

The stock market is driven primarily by three factors: corporate earnings, interest rates and investor psychology. An appreciation of these factors may help us cope with inevitable downturns in the future.

A better-than-expected GDP report and roundup of corporate earnings reports for the 3rd quarter 2018 confirmed the continued strength of the U.S. economy. Earnings are running ahead of analyst estimates and are on pace to be 22.5% higher than 2017’s 3rd quarter profits. The U.S. economy is healthy, unemployment is at its lowest levels in decades and a rising stock market is a product of our prosperity.

What is not favorable for the stock market is rising interest rates. Interest rates are the cost one party pays for the use of another’s money. Increasing interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money, so individuals reduce spending on discretionary items while businesses curtail plans for hiring, building inventory and expanding operations. Additionally, higher interest rates make less risky investments more attractive. Why invest in stocks when one can earn attractive returns on CDs and money market funds?

The psychology of the stock market and its investors has been described as “irrational and excessive in its swings”. What is positive one day is negative the next. The 24 hour-a-day news cycle and internet access to brokerage accounts influence investors to buy when things are going well and to sell when things are going poorly, the opposite of what they should be doing.

After reaching an intra-day high of 26,951 on October 3rd, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to 24,122 on October 29th, a drop of 2829 points which qualifies as a “correction”, a loss of 10% or more in Wall St. jargon. What happened to change investor sentiment so dramatically? The threat of higher tariffs and a trade war with China are certainly reasons to be worried. The upcoming mid-term elections, with possible changes in tax and public policy, is another cause for concern. Investor perspective is always in flux, and was negative for a good part of October.

It is important to realize that stock market corrections typically occur once every other year. The infrequency of corrections is a small comfort to those with short term time horizons or who do not have cash to deploy when opportunities arise. Nevertheless, horrifying short term downturns are the price to pay for average long term annual returns in the stock market of roughly 8%. While it would be less stressful if the market realized gains in an orderly and consistent manner, more often than not it is either boom or bust.