Category Archives: Parenting Tips

April is Autism Awareness Month

autismimageApril is Autism Awareness month as many organizations such as Autism Speaks and Autism Society promote awareness and acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is the fastest growing developmental disorder and now affects about 1 in 68 children (according to Autism Science Foundation). Considering this prevalence, ASD likely affects a family you know or your child knows. This is why Kidz Central Station is committed to helping educate our parents and community about both the challenges and the joys of children with Autism.

The Quad Manhattan is a top NYC school for children with learning differences. Teachers and clinicians work with students both one-on-one and in small groups to allow kids to move at their own pace of learning. Quad Manhattan offers a six-week summer camp for children ages 5+. Enroll in a free open house to learn more.

Music for Autism hosts FREE concerts for kids with autism and their friends, family, and loved ones. The Kidz Central team attended the March event and came away with a new appreciation for music in a loving and interactive setting. Our kids especially enjoyed dancing and playing instruments along with the music, as well as the tasty snacks. Two April events are upcoming in Park Slope and Manhattan.

Our partner NYU Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, offers many well-researched and FREE webinars for our parents on a range of helpful topics, including strategies for helping kids with social anxiety, safety awareness for kids with ASD, medication management for ADHD, or dating with ASD.

Please join Kidz Central Station this month and throughout the year by promoting understanding and acceptance of all of our children! Take a class, participate in a walk, donate, educate yourself with a webinar, or just spend time with someone with Autism.

Keeping Your Kids Ahead of the Class

gadda1With abundant choices available from daycare to nannies to 2s programs to pre-school, parents in New York City have a tough decision to make about childcare in the early years. More and more parents are looking for a one-stop solution that nurtures their child from infancy through pre-K while developing a familiar, social experience with a structured, learning environment.

With this in mind, the Kidz Central Station team recently toured the newly opened pre-school/daycare on 2nd Avenue called The Goddard School of Murray Hill in Midtown East. This is a play-based school with a focus on meaningful interactions with the children. 

We met Owner Rami Singh, a former Finance exec who developed a passion for early childhood education after becoming a father of two super adorable children who are now enrolled at the school. Like many of us, he found a void when considering the childcare debate. What is the choice for those of us who want a family feel experience for our kids that takes full advantage of these early, impressionable years?  His answer was to build it himself.

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A great advantage of The Goddard School of Manhattan in Murray Hill, which opened in November 2017, is the facility.  It is housed in a clean, vibrant space full of sunlight and brand new and spacious classrooms. And by clean, we mean the space is cleaned 3x a day!  The hallways are decorated with fun animal shapes, a world map, daily schedules, teachers’ curricula, and inspirational quotes. An outdoor rooftop playground is soon to come! There are more than enough areas to store strollers inside the building. Singh’s thoughtfulness for his venture shines through in the details, such as the international themes in the decor and even the intricate details in the rock climbing wall in the gym.  It is a truly modern space. We will say, from our experience, this is not easy to find in Manhattan. When many of us were searching for daycare years ago, we found many schools in the basements of buildings with cramped spaces that did not appeal to us.

Fantastic space aside, the curriculum and teachers are the real stars at this new school.  More than anything, the school strives to go beyond typical daycare and provide a “whole child experience” that appreciates each child’s individuality and taps into each child’s way of learning.  To that end, the curriculum is designed and then refined with the focus on the children, not the teachers or the parents, but the children.  The toys, the activities, the class layout, the schedule all focus on the children’s age and abilities.  We were intrigued by their philosophy of  F.L.EX to provide “a Fun Learning EXperience.”  That means giving children the freedom to have fun while discovering and exploring with hands-on activities, customized lessons, and nurturing encouragement.  In our opinion, the school was succeeding in this.

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We witnessed the positivity and warmth of the teachers firsthand as we toured the school.  The classrooms were filled with smiling faces and the teachers were happy to meet with us and let us see their classrooms in progress.  Each teacher is responsible for constructing the curriculum for his/her classroom to balance independent and cooperative learning with outdoor playtime.  For example, a Toddler full day schedule would include music, social skills, creative arts, yoga, nature studies, sign language, and Spanish among many other activities.  A Preschool schedule would include many of the above mentioned activities in addition to handwriting, math, science, dramatic play, computer lab, chess, reading readiness, and language arts.  It’s a full day schedule with many breaks built in such as nap/quiet time, snack and lunch as provided by the school, outside play, and circle time.

Many current parents give high marks to the school and enthusiastically recommend it to others.  They are are sent daily reports via app with photos and videos from the day.  They feel included in a cooperative and collaborative environment that takes their children’s progress and needs into account. The parents tout the engaged teachers, the beautiful facilities, the custom curriculum and the caring owner as pros.

The school is open through the summer and offers a camp that incorporates STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) learning.  They are developing a variety of themes to tailor to each child’s interests using play-based learning both inside and outside of the classroom.  And the rooftop playground (again, a huge plus in our books) is expected to be completed in July when camp opens.

We, also, want to highlight the several security measures in place at drop-off and for entering the building. Parents/caregivers must check in on a touch screen with a security code at drop-off and pick-up so that every child is accounted for. And there is a security code and Biometric Hand Scanner required to enter the school facility.  We appreciated this added layer for the children’s protection. 

The Goddard School of Murray Hill is a franchise of the nationwide The Goddard School and is currently accepting applications and tour requests. It is located at 751 2nd Ave between 40th and 41st Streets. It welcomes children from infancy to age 6 and offers year-round full day 7AM – 6:30PM schedules or half day depending on your needs. Please check them out for yourselves!  Click here.

Benefits of Gifted and Talented Programs

As a NYC parent we have all heard about the Gifted and Talented Programs. The more information we gather the more overwhelming it can be to begin the admissions process for your child. But what are some of the most attractive aspects of the G&T programs? In many cases, the amount of work it takes to get into one of these programs can make parents question if the effort is worth the value. After all, there is technically no official Gifted and Talented curriculum.

Gifted education helps provide options for advanced students and helps students meet their social needs. If you have a gifted child often, a gifted program can help them stay engaged in school. Often times a gifted child in a regular class can face the risk of becoming bored or have trouble engaging socially. After talking to families about their experiences in G&T programs, our education specialists at Bright Kids have found that there are three main incentives for parents to covet Gifted and Talented schools. Firstly, the nature of how the curriculum is presented and administered to the students is a big draw. This aspect coinciding with the peer groups students will encounter in the classroom and the level of rigor in which they are confronted with, are the leading factors in a parent’s desire to for their student to attend and continue to attend a Gifted and Talented school.

Curriculum
What makes the G&T program curriculum unique? Well, there are two different types of New York City Gifted and Talented programs — Citywide and District. As I mentioned, there is no special Gifted and Talented Curriculum in NYC. This is important to keep in mind, because it often means that the quality can vary from program to program. The key facts to remember are that Citywide programs take the standard New York Department of Education curriculum and accelerate it one year. This means that a student entering Kindergarten would begin with the standard first grade curriculum. District programs simply have “enriched” curriculum. This means that the quality of the teachers becomes very important as they are required to account for different learning speeds and styles within the standardized grade-appropriate curriculum. The benefit of this flexible classroom is that if one student is a very advanced reader, but another is not, they will both receive different assignments to accommodate for their varying levels. It also means that most of the students in the class will move at a faster pace than an average classroom. Because of this, students will progress through content much faster and get to more than the standard classroom.

Peer Groups
Another key component of Gifted and Talented programs is the peer group of each classroom. In a general education classroom, student learning levels are often a wide mix. This can cause classrooms to have a slower pace than a gifted education classroom. In some instances, student behavior becomes an issue.

In many instances, gifted children can be prone to tune out learning if they are not challenged or engaged. This increases the risk of social problems or acting out at school. By placing these students in a setting surrounded by other gifted students, they are encouraged to achieve a higher level of success academically. Furthermore, children in G&T programs don’t typically feel the need to hide their giftedness to fit in. Students in such programs often have more confidence and self esteem and have an easier time making friends and socializing. These peer groups create a fair and equal learning environment for students. This helps foster your child’s unique learning abilities to achieve their potential at school, while also helping other students reach their potential.

The process of applying to New York City Gifted and Talented schools can be daunting, but they offer so many educational and social benefits. Bright Kids is here to help you and your family find and gain a seat at the right G&T program for you and your child. Our unique and customizable approach creates a curriculum that is specific to your child’s learning needs. Eliminate added stress and let us help your child.

Learn more at a Bright Kids G&T Open House. RSVP Today.

 

A Pediatrician’s “Back to School” Checklist

AdobeStock_52157424As your child is starting a new school year, here are some important things to think about for a smooth and healthy transition for the whole family.

Check with your pediatrician to make sure your child is all caught up on required immunizations and that he or she has had a routine check-up with your pediatrician within the past year.

Notify your school of any medical conditions or special needs that your child may have. Find out if the school requires any forms to be filled out by your pediatrician if your child does require specific accommodations for a medical condition.

Get organized and informed. Ask your child’s teachers if he or she will need any special school supplies. Find out if there are any ways for you to volunteer or get involved in school events. Children often do much better in school when their parents or caregivers get to know their teachers and are involved in school activities.

Re-establish a healthy sleep schedule. Kids often have slightly altered sleep schedules during the summer months due to vacation and other factors. If your children have gotten used to a later bedtime during the summer, gradually move bedtime up by 30 minutes every few nights for 1-2 weeks in anticipation of an earlier bedtime during the school year.

Discuss how you will handle meals during the busy school year. Decide if your child will be eating breakfast and/or lunch that is provided by the school or if you will preparing those meals from home. If your child will be eating meals at school, find out what kind of healthy foods are available. Notify your school of any food allergies that your child may have. Make a list of easy to prepare, healthy snacks that you can have on hand for a quick snack after your child returns home from a busy school day. Some examples of healthy snacks that require little preparation include carrots and hummus, sliced apples and peanut butter, popcorn (lightly salted with no butter), or low-fat cheese and cut fruit.

Make plans for after school arrangements and transportation for your child. Decide if your child will need to be in an afterschool program or look into other after school child care options if required. Plan on carpool arrangements if needed.

Plan to be active! Choose 1-2 extracurricular activities that your child will enjoy participating in during the school year. Encourage your child to find something they will look forward to and feel passionate about. Avoid overscheduling too many commitments during the year.

Help your child work out back-to-school jitters with an open conversation. Talk to your child about how they are feeling about starting the new year, what to expect, and back-to-school safety. Read about how to manage potential concerns such as bullying, stress and burnout, and peer pressure. If you have questions about how to recognize or handle any of these issues, ask your pediatrician.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Madhavi Kapoor, MD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone and a pediatrician at NYU Langone at Trinity.

 

Motivate Your Child To Practice Guitar – 4 Practical Tips For Parents

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by Kenji Haba, Director, Willan Academy of Music

At present most of the parents prefer the idea of their children practicing guitar at their own residence. They are full of expectations that their young ones are going to love these lessons so much that they will simply want to practice it themselves. However, although the majority of the kids do love these lessons, they are usually reluctant to practice them at home. The primary reasons for this type of behavior are distractions as well as the lack of self-discipline. It is the duty of the parents to inspire their children to practice music on their own. In the subsequent paragraphs, we are going to mention the top 4 tips to motivate your child to practice.

Schedule your kid’s guitar practice
Initially, your toddler is going to prefer iPods and television over practicing music at home. This is because these fun devices will help them to get a reward for much less work while it is imperative to work much harder in music for that. Therefore, the parents must teach their children that although it takes more time and labor to get a reward in music, it is much better than the instant satisfaction which they receive from the appliances.

Ask your child to teach you
This technique is going to help your kid to understand his or her progress and will also boost the self-confidence of the child. He or she will start feeling important and will comprehend that this has been achieved only through the guitar. This will help to motivate him or her to continue learning.

Show your kid the examples of other noted musicians
Make it a point to show your child the videos of the famous musicians or guitarists which you think will help to engage them. Taking them to concerts will also be a smart idea since it will help them to experience live music.

Support your child
Do not forget to appreciate your child once they complete a line of guitar music or a song. Your encouragement will do a world of good for them. Tell them that what they have just played right now is appropriate for recording on a video.

Kenji Haba, MM, is a director/guitar faculty at Willan Academy of Music. As a classical guitarist, Kenji has performed at Carnegie Hall and appeared on Classical Guitar Magazine and Fanfare. Willan Academy of Music offers instruction for children in a variety of musical instruments. Check out their classes, here.

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.

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.