Author Archives: Kidz Central Station

About Kidz Central Station

Founded by a NYC mom of two young children, Kidz Central Station uses technology to solve the problem so many busy parents face—how to find, book, and manage their children's classes, camps, local family events, and birthday parties. Kidz Central Station offers more than 3,000 classes, camps, and birthday party options representing hundreds of NYC's top activity providers. With a sophisticated search engine and class reviews, it is easy for parents to find the best classes for their children, sign up for a trial class, and directly enroll.

Motivating Children by Developing a Growth Mindset

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By: The Kumon Team

“Motivation is the most important factor in determining whether you succeed in the long run. What I mean by motivation is not only the desire to achieve, but also the love of learning, the love of challenge, and the ability to thrive on obstacles. These are the greatest gifts we can give our students.” – Carol Dweck

Parents often ask how they can help their child become more motivated to learn, especially material that is above grade level. Stanford University Professor of Psychology, Carol Dweck demonstrates that communication to children about their effort, successes, and setbacks often shapes a child’s mindset and motivation.

Here is how it works:

–The author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck postulates that people have either a “fixed mindset” or “growth mindset” that influences our perspective and communication.
–When we believe that success is based on innate ability, we are said to have a fixed theory of intelligence, otherwise known as a fixed mindset.
–When we believe that success is based on hard work, learning, and perseverance, we are said to have a growth theory of intelligence, also called growth mindset.

Parents and Instructors are most effective when they praise effort and results equally. Praising effort means recognizing errors as learning opportunities that lead to improvement and success. The brain is a muscle that becomes stronger through hard work and learning from our mistakes. We can motivate children to develop a growth mindset and achieve their goals through communication about effort, learning, and persistence.

“I’ve got to have a growth mindset, man. That’s what it’s about, me still trying to improve even at 30 and (after) 12 years in the league.” – LeBron James

Interested in Kumon’s programs? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

The Harvest of Your Child’s Education

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By: The Kumon Team

With the arrival of October, many families have thoughts of pumpkins, trick-or-treating and Thanksgiving just around the corner. For the colonial founders of America, this time of year was harvest time, or the time for reaping the ripened fruits of their labor from the spring and summer. The same sentiment is still present, especially in the minds of high school seniors as they begin preparing their college applications this autumn. After years of hard work and studying, these students will soon reap their rewards through exceptional SATs scores and early acceptance letters from top universities across the country.

Although your children may be a long way away from applying to colleges, remember the long-term benefits of the Kumon Program. For example, the daily routine of Kumon homework helps remind your children that success is a step by step process and can be achieved by working hard each day. In addition, the confidence that the Kumon Program builds in your children helps encourage them to tackle new challenges, such as joining the debate team or striving to make the honor roll.

The Kumon Program requires diligent practice and commitment by both students and parents to attain academic success.  As Kumon Students, your children will learn to commit to completing Kumon homework on a daily basis, understanding it will help them to achieve their long-term academic goals.

Kumon has convenient locations around New York City. Visit the Kidz Central Station website to find the location nearest to you, and to learn about how the Kumon Program helps children reap a bountiful harvest later in their academic careers.

Interested in Kumon’s programs? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

The First Day of Preschool: Preparing your Child for Success

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By Pam Wolf, Founder & CEO, NY Kids Club

Preschool is a significant milestone, and as a parent it’s natural to feel conflicted. You want your child to transition and acclimate successfully, but there is always pain in change and in parting. As a mother of four, I faced many moments like these! Here are some helpful tips for preparing your child to enter a new world with confidence and excitement.

Keep it light.
Though you may not know it, children can easily sense when their parents are overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated. If you are uneasy, your child will determine that she should also be uneasy. You hold all the power when it comes to her perception of school, so implement a strategy to manage your stress and hers. Be calm and easy when you talk about school. Be positive and steady as you set out to prepare her in the weeks leading up to the first day. Remember that you are her rock, and she will likely mirror the example you set.

Act it out.
Prepare your child in the weeks leading up to the first day of school by previewing what he can expect. Act out scenarios taking turns in the roles of child, parent and teacher. Here are a few fun things to practice together:

• Taking off and hanging your coat
• Saying goodbye to Mommy or Daddy
• Eating lunch from a lunchbox
• Reading stories (about preschool, if possible!)
• Singing songs
• Taking naps
• Playing outside

Also be sure to rehearse picking him up from school so he will understand that the day has an endpoint. Acting out these skills and routines is also an opportunity to answer his questions and reassure him that preschool is a safe place to learn and grow.

Pay a visit.
Take your child to visit her school and meet her teachers before the program begins. (This is a great time to ask questions of your own and learn how to better prepare her.) You may also want to arrange a few play dates before school starts to create a positive association.

Set new routines.
You want to work smarter, not harder. Two to three weeks before school starts, begin to alter your weekday routine to resemble the routine of the school year. You may think you want to savor those last few weeks by preserving your normal schedule, but you’re making more work for yourself in the long run! Here are some suggestions for getting organized and making the transition less jarring:

• Go school shopping for a backpack, just the two of you. If possible, let him choose it to empower him as “big kid” starting preschool.
• Label the backpack and other loose items (lunchbox, jacket, etc.) with his name and his teacher’s name in permanent marker.
• If your child takes medication on a daily basis, contact the school and take care of the paperwork in advance.
• Know how your child will be getting to and from school. If you have arranged for afterschool help from a neighbor, caregiver or friend, be sure your child understands how he’ll be cared for.
• Change “summer bedtime” to an earlier “school bedtime.” Healthy sleep habits will help him adjust to a school schedule before it starts, which is much nicer for you.
• Establish a special but simple “goodbye” routine. I found I could minimalize separation anxiety by blowing three kisses to one of my children, while another wanted me to sing a few lines of his favorite song. Whatever it is, make sure your child plays a part in creating this comforting coping mechanism.

Watch and listen.
Be on the lookout for verbal and nonverbal signs of worry in your child. She may be especially nervous the night before school, so keep things light and relaxed. Be sure she goes to bed on time, and let her pick out the clothes she will wear to save time in the morning. Before bed, try to talk about something other than school.

If she expresses any worry, listen, don’t dismiss. Let her know that her feelings are completely normal—you might even share a story about a time you felt worried and how you got through it. By allowing her to share her fears, you can walk her through them and show her how to deal with them. (Try this great list of phrases to help calm an anxious child.)

Make your exit.
Plan to stay for 15-20 minutes while your child acclimates to the classroom. When he starts to relax, it’s time to go! If he doesn’t seem comfortable, ask a teacher to stay with him when you leave so that an adult will be there to support him. It will be hard, but try to resist the urge to come back if you hear him cry. Responding to his distress by reappearing sends the message that he can’t be happy if you’re not there. Preschool teachers are experts at helping children adapt to school, and you can help make their work easier by not lingering.

Best of luck in the coming school year, and above all, remember to stay positive. Your child’s new routine will feel natural soon enough!

From the Enrichment Experts at NY Kids Club:

Pamela Wolf founded the NY Kids Club and NY Preschool in September of 2001, which have grown to become the premiere enrichment centers for children two months to12 years. Ms. Wolf has been recognized as a Business Mentor of the Year, Best Entrepreneur, and one of the top female entrepreneurs of the year by Entrepreneur magazine. Ms. Wolf’s extensive business background and simultaneous experience as a mother of four have allowed the NY Kids Club to successfully expand to sixteen locations in New York and twelve in China. The company received INC 500/5000 list recognition in 2014. Of the several successful businesses Pamela Wolf has owned in New York, she is most proud of the NY Kids Club.

Preparing to Go Back to School

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By: The Kumon Team

August is a good month to prepare for the new school year while still savoring the joys of summer. If you’re like most parents, juggling fun and learning isn’t always easy. Summer vacation is meant to give children a break from their long days of school, but it doesn’t mean students should stop learning completely. Children who continue learning over the summer have a much easier time adjusting to the full-time school schedule in September.

While summer fun is at an all-time high, use the month of August to get them back into a routine that is more closely aligned with the fall schedule. You can set a specific time for reading a book each day and make it fun by establishing “together time.” For instance, you can ask your child to read a book that matches a summer activity you shared, such as going to the beach, riding horses, or camping. Enhance these special learning moments by taking the reading session outdoors on a picnic or under a tree. To show interest in what your child is reading, and to learn more about his or her interests and reading style, try to schedule the reading time before dinner so that conversation at mealtime is filled with questions about the story.

As the school year comes into focus, your child may have some concerns and hesitation. From new teachers to new friends, new schools to new schedules, the anticipation of school starting up again can cloud the excitement of the awaiting opportunities. You can help your child adjust to back to school by listening and forming a strong connection with your child. Doing this reinforces the idea that your child isn’t going through this alone and that the people closest to him or her understand the mixed emotions that come with new beginnings. August is the perfect time to turn back-to-school blues into back-to-school bliss.

Interested in Kumon’s programs? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

Raising Our Children in Manhattan – So Many Choices!

I raised my daughters in Manhattan. When they were young (my youngest recently graduated from Northwestern University) there weren’t a lot of programs to choose from, and mostly we young parents just hung out at playgrounds and in each other’s living rooms and let our children play freely. When I first started offering Music Together classes on the UWS and UES in 1992, there wasn’t much else around. These days, you are inundated with choices from art to music to soccer to cooking and on it goes. I can’t possibly imagine how challenging it is, the dilemma that you must face making the decision about what class or classes to enroll your child in. What’s best? What’s the most fun? Which one will my child love the most?

I can’t speak to any of the other programs that are out there because I don’t attend them, but I can speak to Music Together. As a mom in a Music Together class first, I was struck by how grounded it was, how well thought-out it was. It made sense for the child. Sure, the teacher asked me to sing with strangers – who later became friends – and dance around even if I wasn’t holding my child. I didn’t get what good that could possibly do my infant daughter. What I learned, though, is that just like all the other habits our children learn from us through observing, watching, emulating, and generally wanting to BE us as they grow, the same holds true for making music. It’s simple. When they see us doing it, they want to do it, too. And that cycle sets up a life-habit.

At Music Together we provide a classroom setting where children can thrive and grow, with music that isn’t dumbed down but is rich, interesting, stimulating – and FUN. Story songs; train songs; songs in Spanish, Japanese; songs from a diverse array of cultures; songs without words at all; and so much more. Music Together is award-winning music that even you can listen to. Our teachers are trained educators, excellent musicians, and understand what your child needs to grow musically. There is a method to our madness and your child’s music development is our top priority. 

The landscape of children’s programming in Manhattan has changed dramatically since I started ESWS Music Together all those years ago and we are proud that we have thrived despite economic downturns, the ebb and flow of families in and out of Manhattan, and the phenomenal increase in activity choices for families with young children. Parenting in New York City is a unique and beautiful thing. Make Music Together a part of your family’s journey. It’s a solid choice.

Written by Deanna deCampos, Director of Eastside Westside Music Together

Music Matters: Benefits of Music for Young Children


By Pam Wolf, Founder & CEO, NY Kids Club

I became pregnant with my first child in 1991, the year the “Mozart effect” sent millions of ambitious parents running to CD stores. The theory was coined by psychologist Frances Rauscher, who claimed that listening to classical music boosts a child’s brainpower. As a mother-to-be I joined the cult following, holding headphones with twinkling and melodious sonatas to my belly.

Now, the question is: Did it work? Did Mozart make my daughter smarter? While studies since have shown mixed results on Wolfgang Mozart’s particular brain-enhancing qualities, the link between music and childhood development is indisputable.

According to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, a child’s musical intelligence is of equal importance to their logical and bodily intelligence. Gardner states that engaging with music and sound play heightens a child’s day-to-day cerebral abilities such as language, numerical skills, memory, attention, and problem-solving.

Since babies and toddlers perceive the world around them through colors, shapes, and sounds, Gardner’s theory on music intelligence holds significant truths. Think back to being taught that blaring sirens warn of emergency, a dog goes “woof”, and a doorbell ringing signals an arrival. Music and sounds are a relatable medium from which a child can recognize rhythmic patterns, melodies, and the diversity of instruments—skills that set the foundation for everyday activity and elevated brain functioning.

A further study at Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience laboratory concluded that music particularly enhances speech and communication. The study found that the level of precision used in processing music (discerning, pitch, key, and instruments), is even higher than that of processing speech. Therefore, musical studies can lead to earlier literacy and the ability to communicate at an earlier age, whether that be through language, body signals, or sounds.

I used music as a means of communicating emotion with my children. With my baby in my arms, I would dance around the living room to The Beatles to convey upbeat happiness, a Bob Dylan ballad to communicate sadness, or a James Taylor tune to evoke contentment. These were unique moments with my children where we could connect emotionally on a non-verbal level. As my children grew older I encouraged them to make their own music on pots and pans, produce at-home renditions of Les Miserables, or have a dance party with friends. They used music as a means of expression.

I built NY Kid’s Club from the experiences I had with my own children. Since music was an integral part of my parenting method, I infused NY Kid’s Club curriculum with dance and sounds. In our Musical Tots and Musical Kids classes, a professional guitarist and talented singer introduce children to jazz, rock and roll, nursery rhymes, and sing-alongs, for example.

Take every opportunity to introduce your child to music early in life. It not only contributes to future success—it makes for a more joyful journey.

From the Enrichment Experts at NY Kids Club:

Pamela Wolf founded the NY Kids Club and NY Preschool in September of 2001, which have grown to become the premiere enrichment centers for children two months to12 years. Ms. Wolf has been recognized as a Business Mentor of the Year, Best Entrepreneur, and one of the top female entrepreneurs of the year by Entrepreneur magazine. Ms. Wolf’s extensive business background and simultaneous experience as a mother of four have allowed the NY Kids Club to successfully expand to sixteen locations in New York and twelve in China. The company received INC 500/5000 list recognition in 2014. Of the several successful businesses Pamela Wolf has owned in New York, she is most proud of the NY Kids Club.

Head of the Class Mom: Erica Koffler

Meet this week’s Head of the Class Mom, Erica Koffler—owner of Kidfections, a kiddie personalizing business—and a mom to three amazing kids!

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Kidfections?
I had recently finished working a full-time job as exective assistant to a celebrity chef and was looking for my “what’s next.” I had wanted to purchase a personalized Fisher Price Grow-to-Pro Basketball Hoop for a friend’s son’s birthday and was surprised to find that even in New York City, there was no one personalizing those types of toys—not even anyone on Etsy! I figured I’d try doing it myself and I sent my mom the picture. She said it was perfect and asked where I had it made. When I told her I did it myself, she casually said I should start a store and I thought, “You know what? Why not!”

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
For me, the secret is being able to enjoy life when I’m with my family as well as when you I’m doing things as an individual. It’s not necessarily about balancing, but being able to find happiness within so that you can be happy in every role that you play.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
My daughter has been potty trained since 22 months, and now at two and a half she almost never has accidents. One Sunday she was throwing a tantrum about not being able to have a third lollipop (it was Sunday, don’t judge me!) and she clenched her legs together in the middle of the living room and began to pee—almost out of spite. My husband, Daniel, immediately scooped her up, and as he picked her up he unknowingly held her over our nine-month-old son Lucas’, head. So then Lucas was covered in pee. Then Lily, Lucas’ twin sister (probably feeling left out) felt the need to crawl through the trail of pee that her sister left behind. So now we have three kids completely covered in pee. We headed straight to the bathtub only to see that the water was a disgusting brown because, of course, the water in our building had been turned off for some type of repair. Simply one of those ridiculous sitcom moments where you don’t know if you should laugh or cry or give up. Luckily, we have a friend who lives across the street, so we loaded up the triple stroller (yes, we have a triple stroller) a la the Beverly Hillbillies and high-tailed it across Murray Street, inflatable ducky bathtub in tow, to give all of the kids their much-needed bath. And you know what? It was the first time all three kids ever took a bath together and it made for the most incredible photo-op. The lesson? You have to take it all in stride. The best parents are adaptable. And when you have the choice between laughing and crying always choose to laugh, and then take a photo.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
When you work, you often find yourself stretching the limits of your child’s “schedule” when you’re around in order to maximize the hours in a day. For me, as a cook and someone who has worked in the restaurant business for a decade, my oldest daughter’s love of food and going out to eat are the greatest rewards. It is something that we can enjoy together as a family and has given us countless memories. Whether it be Chloe eating salmon sashimi or smothering her face with sugar donuts to be silly, going out to eat has become an escape for us to get out of the house and spend meaningful time as a family (@chloemaxmessyface follows her dining escapades). When you sit down at dinner and your two-year-old asks, “How was your day?” you definitely feel like you are doing something right.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
Enjoy sleeping in now! My husband and I are self-confessed gym rats. Before children, we’d wake up, hop out of bed, and race to the gym just to be done with it for the day—weekends included. Some days, especially after that extra glass of wine (or three), I wish I could just lounge in bed. Enjoy that leisure time before your little ones are telling you that they have to go pee-pee at 6:45am. You kinda have to take them to the potty.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
While you are a mother, you are more than just a mother. You are still the same person you were prior to becoming a mom. You are a still a daughter, a wife, a sister, and a friend, maybe an employee, and you need to be able to wear all of these hats as effectively as you wear your “mom” hat. At the end of the day, the sum of our relationships define who we are, not just our relationships with our children.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book?
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.

What has been your favorite kids’ class?
Songs for Seeds.

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?
Brunch! We absolutely love the jazz brunch at the newly named Roxy Hotel (formerly TriBeCa Grand).

What is your favorite rainy day escape?
Playgarden.

Equation Motivation for Kids: The Importance of Math in Everyday Life

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By: The Kumon Team

“When will I use math?” This question is often posed by students, who wonder how topics like factorization and algebra will play a role in their everyday lives. What many people don’t realize is that we use math in everyday activities like making purchases, tracking cellphone minutes, and even baking.

Looking for a few ways to motivate your child to enjoy math? Encourage him or her by discussing the importance of math for snagging potential dream jobs. Here are few ideas to get started:

• Animator. An animator uses linear algebra to show how an object is rotated and shifted and made larger and smaller.

Computer Scientist. Creating the next generation of gadgets and apps involves more math than one may think. Theoretical studies of algorithms are just a small part of the process.

Fashion Designer. Fashion designers use area, perimeter, and diameter as well as mathematical algorithms to create designs and calculate the amount and cost of fabric required.

Astronaut. Astronauts use math to make precise mathematical calculations, from how a spacecraft leaves Earth’s atmosphere to how astronauts pilot the craft.

Architect. Architects use math to calculate the square footage of rooms and buildings, to lay out floor space dimensions, and to calculate the required space for other areas such as parking, plumbing, etc.

Many careers require a solid foundation in mathematics. Whether your child dreams of becoming a math professor, research analyst, Pixar animator, or fashion designer, give him or her the tools needed to succeed. Ranging from basic counting to advanced calculus, the Kumon Math Program enhances problem solving techniques and improves mental calculation and reasoning skills—tools that can help your child find lifelong success.

Interested in Kumon’s math program? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

Welcome to Summer: Tips for Choosing the Right Summer Day Camp for Your Child

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By Pam Wolf, Founder & CEO, NY Kids Club

A summer day camp can be the perfect opportunity for children to discover a new passion, dig deeper into an existing one, and, most importantly, learn resilience and independence in a new setting away from their parents. Families that find a good match often have children who want to return year after year.

When you begin the work of researching and selecting a day camp for your child, you will find the pool of options to be both wide and deep. By asking the right questions and looking for certain qualifications, the process does not have to be strenuous. If you’re looking for a day camp for the first time, consider these 5 factors:

A focus.
Always start with your child. What are his interests? What is she drawn to? Most day camps have a specialty or focus, whether it’s gymnastics, arts, a sport, music, or STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Many specialty camps have limited availability, so be sure to call the camps your child might be interested in to ask when enrollment begins and how many spots are available.

A philosophy.
The whole point of sending your children to a day camp or any other summer enrichment program is to expose them to activities and experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. If you’re eyeing a particular camp, read up on its mission and values (i.e., fostering independence by providing campers with choices). Decide if its philosophy is reflected in its activities.

The staff.
For obvious reasons, this is an important point to assess fully. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk with the directors of a few camps before you make your final decision. Good camps are expecting to hear from parents, and are happy to answer all of your questions.One of your first inquiries should be about the training their staff receives on counseling, safety and supervision. You also have the right to know the staff’s qualifications (for example, a camp that specializes in teaching gymnastics should have instructors with a strong background in that area) and whether or not camp staff are background-checked or require references before they are hired. In the case of indoor camps, it is also important to ask if the camp is being held in a space licensed by the Department of Health.Here are some other questions you may want to ask the staff before you make your choice:

• What is the counselor-to-student ratio?
• What is your communication plan? Who will contact me if my child gets sick or has a problem?
• Is your staff mindful about how the students are getting along, and will they place certain students with each other to ensure everyone has a positive experience?
• What does a typical daily schedule look like?
• Are children with the same counselor all day, or do they switch between activities? How closely are they supervised?
• Is an open house or camp kickoff event offered before camp starts?

Food service.
Is lunch served, or are campers expected to bring their own lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided? Does the camp acknowledge the needs of children with food allergies?

References.
Check out camp reviews and testimonials online. If you have any concerns, ask if you can speak directly to a parent who has sent his/her child to the camp in the past.

If you do your homework, you’ll likely find an excellent fit for your child. Best of luck finding an environment that will enhance your child’s summer!

Learn more about NY Kids Club summer camps for children ages 2 ½ – 8 years here.

From the Enrichment Experts at NY Kids Club:

Pamela Wolf founded the NY Kids Club and NY Preschool in September of 2001, which have grown to become the premiere enrichment centers for children two months to12 years. Ms. Wolf has been recognized as a Business Mentor of the Year, Best Entrepreneur, and one of the top female entrepreneurs of the year by Entrepreneur magazine. Ms. Wolf’s extensive business background and simultaneous experience as a mother of four have allowed the NY Kids Club to successfully expand to sixteen locations in New York and twelve in China. The company received INC 500/5000 list recognition in 2014. Of the several successful businesses Pamela Wolf has owned in New York, she is most proud of the NY Kids Club.

Smart sunscreen choices

Sunscreen tips for New York kids
With summer upon us, we know everyone will be spending a lot more time in the park, at the beach, and outside in general. In addition to making sure you have cool drinks and a beach blanket, your first priority should be applying sunscreen – early and often. It’s important for the entire family but especially for kids. It’s easy to forget in New York City, but kids can get some serious sun just in an afternoon of shopping with their parents or shuttling between playdates.

Many of us turn to ewg.org for their guide to sunscreens, this year in its 10th annual edition. They offer helpful categories such as best sunscreens for kids (and worst sunscreens for kids), best beach and sport sunscreens, plus tips for other ways to protect yourself from the sun. It’s our first stop every summer! Check out the guide now.