Category Archives: Parenting Tips

3 Kid-Friendly (and Delicious!) Gluten-Free Recipes

happy family with two kids making dinner at home
Last week, our awesome experts from NYU Langone Medical Center wrote about how to enjoy a gluten-free Halloween if you or your little one has Celiac disease or any another gluten intolerance. This week, we’re happy to share some of our experts’ favorite gluten-free recipes—one that’s perfect for Halloween and two others that are both kid-friendly and delicious!

1. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Time to Make: 30 minutes
Makes: 1 cup
Serving Size for Kids: 1/8 cup
Serving Size for Adults/Adolescents: 1/4 cup

Ingredients                                                                                                                                                       1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Scoop seeds out of pumpkin using a large wooden spoon
3. Separate seeds from pumpkin flesh and rinse seeds
4. Drain seeds in a colander and pat dry with paper towels
5. Mix pumpkin seeds with olive oil and salt
6. Spread mixture evenly on the parchment paper
7. Bake pumpkin seeds for approximately 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy, turning seeds over halfway through cooking
8. Allow pumpkin seeds to cool off before enjoying!

For Fun: Follow directions above but add your favorite spices for different flavored seeds!
Spiced Pumpkin Seeds: ½ tsp. garlic powder, ¼ tsp. paprika, ¼ tsp. cayenne (for spicy seeds!)
Pumpkin Pie Seeds: 1 Tbsp. sugar, ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. nutmeg
Pumpkiny Trail Mix: toss roasted seeds with your choice of dried fruit and nuts for an on-the-go treat!

2. Sweet Peach Smoothie
Time to Make: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 cup
Serving Size for Kids: ½ cup
Serving Size for Adults/Adolescents: 1 cup

¼ cup water or coconut water
¼ cup plain, low-fat yogurt
½ cup fresh or frozen peach slices
½ frozen, overripe banana

1. Add water, yogurt, peaches and banana to blender
2. Blend until smooth

Fun Tip: Turn brown bananas into smoothie ingredients! Simply peel bananas and freeze in a freezer bag, then add to smoothies later!

3. Salad Selfie
Time to Make: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 plate
Serving Size for Kids: ½ Salad Selfie
Serving Size for Adults/Adolescents: 1 Salad Selfie

Cored pear quarters (fresh and ripe, or canned and drained)
Plain Greek yogurt
Cantaloupe or honeydew
Celery sticks
Shredded carrots (long strands, if possible)
Sliced strawberries
Dried cranberries
Parsley Sprigs
Small spinach leaves
Sliced radishes
Sliced kiwi
Sliced Black olives

1. Rinse fruits and veggies
2. Place half a pear flat down in the center of the plate
3. Take a round scoop of the plain Greek yogurt and place it on the narrow top of the pear (the yogurt should look like the head of a person and the pear is the torso)
4. Use the long strands of shredded carrots or celery sticks to create arms or legs
5. The remaining ingredients can be used to create facial features like eyes, nose, mouth, hair, hands, legs, and so forth!

For fun: Use any fruits and veggies you like. Name your salad selfie and eat!

And don’t forget—to learn more about nutrition and gluten-free foods, join NYU Langone Medical Center in the kitchen! Through a partnership with the Natural Gourmet Institute, the Sylvia Center and NYU Langone Medical Center’s S.Q.U.A.S.H., and Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten Related Disorders Programs, kids learn to make fun, healthy, gluten-free recipes with professional chefs. Our next class, a Mexican fiesta, is on October 14, at 5:30pm. Class is FREE and open to the public for kids ages 7 to 12. Register here!

Why Family Mealtime is SO Important

We all know that family mealtime is important, but scheduling time together is often easier said than done. When you get home from work or if you’ve spent the day running around after your kids, it can be tempting to grab food on the go or microwave a quick meal for the kids and order in for yourself.

However, every once in a while it’s important to take an hour out of your day to turn the TV off, put the phones and computers down, and enjoy a healthy meal while reflecting on the events of the day. Take it from us (and our experts at NYU Langone Medical Center who also had something to say about the matter!), your family will benefit in more ways than you know:

It’s important for your family relationship. The only way to foster a close-knit family is to spend quality time together, and weeknight meals are the perfect opportunity. Eating together every night might be a stretch for your family, but a couple nights a week at least, plan a meal where you can sit down together, talk about your day, and find out what’s happening in each other’s lives. What you learn might surprise you!

On that note, you may learn things about each other wouldn’t otherwise find out. We rush around in so many different directions that we often don’t have the time to chat about the little things in life—who your toddler played with at school, the project your wife is spending her days on at work, the amazing book your teenager read at school. Taking the time to spend a meal together—without lots of outside interruptions—will help you understand each other better and address exciting news and/or challenging issues in a more timely manner.

Your picky eater may just try something new. Kids tend to eat pretty early, so it’s not always convenient to eat as a family. However, if you have a picky eater on your hands and you make a concerted effort to eat dinner together as a family, he or she may be inspired to dig in to what the rest of you are eating. It’s not a guarantee, but a major way kids learn is by watching and observing, which is pretty difficult to do if they’re always eating by themselves.

You’ll eat healthier. After a long day, it often seems like the best way to handle dinner is to order in or grab take out and eat as you please. While this might be easier, doing so may not be good for your waistline. More often than not, grab and go meals are much more unhealthy than what you’d make for yourself at home, and eating this way every night can add lots of extra calories and saturated fat to your diet. Home-cooked meals don’t have to be difficult or over the top gourmet. Marinate chicken overnight and throw it on the grill; roast some vegetables in olive oil, salt, and pepper; and bake a sweet potato in the oven—and there you have an easy and healthy dinner for the whole family.

If lack of cooking time is the reason for your lack of family meals, don’t let it be your excuse! Prep your meals over the weekend when you have the time so all you have to do is defrost or throw it in the oven. You can also search the endless number of cooking sites out there for easy 20-minute meals that literally entail throwing things in a pot. Or, check out Kitchensurfing, a company that sends a private chef to your home to cook, serve, and clean up a meal for your family. This way you can spend more time as a family and less time worrying about what to make for dinner!

5 Tips For Getting Through Toddler Separation

children and mother crying first day go to pre-kindergarten school

For many parents, preschool has just begun, and for some it’s the first time separating from their little ones—as in, dropping them off and picking them up when the day is over. We all have to go through it at some point, and for some parents their kids are easier than others (my son still cries every single time I drop him off, but he stops 30 seconds after I leave so I think it’s become a bit of an act!). If you’re new to the whole preschool thing or can relate to my daily experience, here are five tips for getting through toddler separation—without being in tears on a daily basis yourself!

Discuss it. Make sure to explain to your child, no matter how old, what will be happening when you bring him or her to school. Sure, toddlers are young, but they understand way more than we give them credit for—and it’s important that they fully understand that mommy and/or daddy will be leaving and that they’ll have a blast while we’re gone. And make sure to explain what has become my son’s daily mantra: “When mommy leaves, she always comes back!”

Say goodbye. One huge mistake I’ve made in the past when leaving my son is not saying goodbye. I mistakenly thought that if I slipped out when he wasn’t paying attention he would be totally fine. And I was SO wrong. In fact, he got more upset, probably because I didn’t explain to him what was happening. So beyond discussing separation, make sure to say goodbye and that you’ll see him or her after a fun day at school.

Then just leave. Many if not most separation programs favor a gradual separation schedule—as in, kids gradually stay longer and longer and parents gradually leave the classroom/building. While a day or two of helping kids acclimate to a new school is totally fine in my book, it gets to a point when it’s time to leave. All kids will get through the tears and get used to a newfound sense of independence—but in my opinion, this can really only happen once parents leave for good. Lingering only gives kids a false sense that mommy/daddy will be staying at school too. Once your child’s teachers give the thumbs up to leave, get out as fast as you can and don’t look back.

Get the scoop from the teachers. If your child’s seemingly incessant crying is worrying you, or if you aren’t quite sure how to handle the whole separation thing, talk to your child’s teachers, as they’re the pros. Not only have they dealt with hundreds of preschool kids before—all with different personalities—but they can also give you advice on how to prepare for your child’s specific school and provide tips that will make the process easier.

Give yourself a break. If your child won’t stop crying and you feel totally helpless, or if you find tears rolling down your cheek when you leave your child crying, don’t be so hard on yourself. This too shall pass, and one day your child is going to enter the classroom, let go of your hand, and say “Bye Mommy!” with a big smile. Talk to parents going the same thing, or even better, parents who’ve been through it before and lived to tell the tale—you’re sure to feel better.

Find a Lifetime of Memories in Your Children’s Clothing

By Renee Bock, Explore+Discover

ClothingMy sister and I have four boys between us and I’ve passed down lots of my favorite clothes to her son. Every fall, just as school begins, we ritually clean out the drawers, have a reckoning with how much they’ve grown and make way for the new. It’s a process where we say goodbye to trusted blue jeans and perfectly cozy socks that are way too small. My oldest is sixteen and her youngest is ten. There’s a lot of living in all those boy years, and a lot of sharing. Bathing suits, socks, boots, even underwear.

Every now and then while visiting my sister I’ll pleasantly reconnect with some of my kids’ well-loved clothing—my son’s shirt from two summers ago, the one he wore on the day we left him at sleep away camp for the first time; or a certain raincoat, recalling a sudden cloudburst in the backyard. My sister was pregnant then with a baby girl, and I can recall her running in the grass with her belly and four boys behind. I can remember how big that coat was when my son first wore it. These clothes are old friends. They unearth memories you didn’t know you had, a nostalgia based on the ordinary things we almost leave behind.

But these clothes are more. They’re really a personal map comprised of shirts, shoes, coats, pants, and even colors and smells that helps remind us of where we’ve been with our children—physically and emotionally. Read them correctly and they can even give us a hint of where we’re heading.

Think about it. When our babies are born we often receive clothing presents that catapult our children into the future. Overalls for a one-year-old, pajamas for an eight-month-old, even slippers for a new walker. Seasons fly by. Someone’s purchased a winter coat for the following year. The baby isn’t yet 10 pounds and already our relatives have them walking away. As a young mother, I organized their baby drawers with an eye to the future. Still nursing, my imagination flew to his toddler years, seeing him in 2T pants from my Aunt Clara. Who would this person be?

Things past, things future. The imagination and memories can saturate a mother. With four boys—grandma calls them “the four steps”—there’s an endless parade of laundry and memories wrapped up in what we wore.

Scientists muse about the connection between smell and memories of the past. We recently opened a box of baby clothes that was somehow tucked in the back of a closet for more than fifteen years. The patterns were so familiar—a sleep sack with bees in the hive, an intricate pattern of trains and trucks, a sailor suit meant for a formal portrait at six months. The smells of babyhood and everything good about the world. Four boys who shared their days, their disappointments, their dreams, now moving in larger concentric circles on their own. My oldest, the one who stands at 6’3, wore those tiny booties, his hand fit into such small mittens. It defies logic and yet is more real than anything I’ve ever known. You can’t argue with a size 15 basketball sneaker or evidence of a onesie so small and yet so familiar you’d swear you just tucked it away last week.

Things past and things future, the artifacts of childhood come together in a web of ordinary and extraordinary memories that make motherhood what it is.

Renee Bock is a dedicated early childhood educator, who is currently the Chief Academic Officer at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan that is committed to setting the standard for infant and toddler care and education. Renee has more than a decade of experience in the field and holds a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College in New York. She has three sons, Ariel (16), Raffi (14), and Shaya (13).


Talk, Read, and Sing To Your Kids Every Day: A Parent’s Mantra

By Renee Bock, Explore+Discover

IMG_3511I’ve been raising and working with children for almost twenty years and I woke up this morning to find one of the most compelling literacy campaigns I’ve ever seen. If you have children you will find it fascinating too. Too Small To Fail is an organization with a mission to raise awareness around what’s called the “million word gap”—the disparity in vocabulary between rich and poor children in the United States and its impact throughout a child’s education. Their recent public awareness venture is called “Talk, Read and Sing Together Every Day.” They are definitely speaking my language. Their message is straightforward and important: You, the parent, are your baby’s first teacher. All of your interactions with your child matter. If you want a child with lots of words who can think and read and take pleasure from these two things, you need to engage them with language of all kinds—especially around topics that interest them.

The importance of the campaign goes beyond focusing on parent interaction around one linguistic approach. It’s the triumvirate that has the greatest impact. The fact that talking, singing, and reading all build baby’s linguistic brain and add to later academic success (aside form overall productivity and happiness). That what the real news is here. We’d be wise to shift our teaching and nurturing of young children in response.

I’ll admit that I’m the perfect audience for this campaign. I’ve devoted my life to these three things, but mostly singing with kids. I became a teacher because I believed that by singing and playing guitar with children every day I would make an impact on their language, their ability to tap into emotions, to feel part of a community, and basically to be all around happy and high functioning children. I love to listen to children talk, as they always outshine adults by far. The wisdom and humor of children’s books has shaped my interactions with children. I can’t imagine running a classroom without these rich language exchanges. For the past ten years I’ve hired teachers and directors who feel the same way. I’ve even paid for them to learn to play guitar.

languageAll of this being said, the validation of the Too Small To Fail campaign bringing my three childhood favorites together—talking, reading, and singing—is immensely powerful. It ultimately felt like a mantra for all parents. Too Small to Fail is a largely influential organization. Backed by the Clinton Foundation and New Generations, and led by Kara Dukakis (Michael Dukakis’ daughter), they seem uniquely positioned to market big ideas that benefit all children. And I’m grateful. Isn’t it uplifting, during a campaign year, to find political money being used for the greater good in a way that is quietly inspiring and informative?

You can check out the Sing, Talk and Read To Your Child campaign here.

Renee Bock is a dedicated early childhood educator, who is currently the Chief Academic Officer at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan that is committed to setting the standard for infant and toddler care and education. Renee has more than a decade of experience in the field and holds a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College in New York. She has three sons, Ariel (16), Raffi (14), and Shaya (13).


What to Do if Your Child Is Being Bullied

Little boy standing up for himself and saying NO to bullying by blowing a raspberry at the bully in front of a blackboard at schoolHeading back to school is exciting for many kids, but for those who have been bullied in the past, it may be a nightmare. According to the National Education Association, a typical school child has a 30 percent chance of being bullied at school, taunted on the bus, sexually harassed, “flamed” on the Internet, beaten up, or ganged up on. It’s a huge problem, but if you suspect or know your child is being bullied, there are steps you can take to help create a safer and healthier school environment.

Know what bullying is—and isn’t. Dealing with everyday conflict—daily disagreements between students of equal strength, status, or ability—is a healthy, normal part of life. However, there is nothing normal or healthy about being threatened, intimidated, or victimized. Bully-victim conflict is an unhealthy situation in which a student or group of students uses superior size or power to win concessions from, intimidate, or hurt a vulnerable student or group of students. Examples include shaking someone down for lunch money, repeated taunting or teasing, pushing, fighting, and even the use of weapons.

Encourage your child’s school to adopt a system-wide bullying policy (if it doesn’t have one already) stating clearly that violence will not be tolerated. Violence in this context means all forms of bullying: any mean word, look, sign, or act that hurts another person’s body, feelings, or things. The policy should define the rules, as well as actions for staff members to take when intervening. It should also state clear consequences for students who violate the rules.

Do not ignore bullying. Some parents tell their children, “Just ignore it and the bully will go away—we were bullied, and we survived.” The truth is, solid research has found that ignoring it does not work and, in fact, being bullied can cause typical kids to develop anxiety and depression.

Say “no” to conflict resolution and mediation. Some schools try to resolve bullying situations with these face-to-face interventions, bringing the bully and victim together in the same room. However, confronting the abuser may re-victimize your child and just make him or her feel less safe.

Know that victims who try to reason with bullies are often worse off.

Teach your child skills to be assertive rather than passive when responding to bullying behavior. Role-play how to firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, and then walk away.

If the bullying does not stop, make sure your child knows how to report the bullying to a teacher. Kids should clearly describe the behavior, tell the teacher they tried to get the behavior to stop on their own, and state that they now need the teacher’s help. For instance, your child might say something like, “Johnny was poking me repeatedly. I asked him to stop; he would not! I asked him again, and now I’m coming to you for help.” This will clearly convey to the teacher that he or she needs to intervene.

Communicate to other parents that it is important for everyone to discuss bullying with their children. A key factor in reducing bullying is having bystanders (kids who witness bullying but are not directly involved) report the incidents, as well as include victims in their activities so they are not alone.

If the bullying continues, be persistent in bringing it to the school’s attention and working with them to resolve it. All students have a right to feel safe, respected, and protected at school!

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

Lori K. Evans, PhD, is Deputy Director of Clinical Practice at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Child Study Center, as well as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Evans received her PhD from St. John’s University. She provides cognitive and behavioral therapy to children and adolescents with a wide-range of conditions, including ADHD, anxiety, eating disorders, and mood disorders.

A Director’s Calling: Decisions That Shape the Lives of Children

20150212_100358It Takes Quality

Without a doubt, the decisions an early childhood education director makes—from how much to spend on flowers to staffing changes—have a profound impact on the culture and life of a school and its students. Many of these decisions are invisible to a parent’s eye. They happen behind the scenes while the director is at home, riding to work on the train, or simply in conversation with his/her team. But these decisions matter. They impact children’s daily lives, their emotional experiences, and what they learn every day.

When you select a school or a childcare center for infants and toddlers, you are really choosing the director. In essence, the director becomes the parent when the parent is away. He ro she oversees the tone and content of the teachers’ language, the selection of classroom materials, and the composition of teams. Directors make sure a center is safe and clean, and most importantly that the children in their care enjoy lives filled with the challenges and joys they deserve.

It Takes Time

It takes time for a director to put down roots in a school and shape the culture. At first, depending on the institution, he or she may be faced with a smoothly functioning machine or the director may need to manage a team that has been functioning poorly for a very long time. He or she needs to work with a strong vision, a supportive team of administrators, and a have a constitution of steel. The best directors always make the job look easy—they walk through the center with an air of comfort and belonging, even when serious and difficult decisions are about to be made.

Here are some of the ways a center director may impact the life of your child:

Building a Teacher Community: The director selects who spends time with your child every day. Directors therefore are faced with the task of determining if each and every teacher is right for the school and their particular positions. Are they knowledgeable about the age group? Do they understand and share the values of the school? Are they patient and kind? Do they find the children fascinating? Are they aware enough of the whole classroom to keep all of the children safe? Selecting (and dismissing) great teachers is an art, and something directors learn over time.

Assessing Teacher Performance: There’s a lot of media debate on how best to assess teacher performance. Should it be accomplished through formal means like testing and portfolio reviews? Or perhaps through special tools developed by the school? No matter the approach, the director decides what excellence looks like. He/she also helps teachers become better at their jobs. Parents only see a small portion of a teacher’s abilities. The director is the only one who has a 360-degree vantage point to determine teacher effectiveness.

Managing A Budget: Directors with a strong visions make ongoing financial decisions that impact daily activities and ultimately the quality of a center. Will the children bake every week? Will musicians visit the school to play live music? Will each class have a pet, visit the apple orchard, or ride in a buggy throughout the neighborhood? Funding always shapes what the children do, who the teachers are, and what a center looks like. Directors control the purse strings.

Building a Beautiful Environment: Each director faces his/her own unique challenges when it comes to building a center’s environment. A director either inherits an environment they can adapt or, less often, he/she must build one from scratch. Either way, with support from a board or corporate office, the director makes many small and large decisions that impacts the creation of spaces for children. The environment can either infuse everyone with good feeling and a sense of order and belonging, or undermine a school purpose and sense of cohesion. Don’t underestimate the power of place in children’s lives—it lies at the heart of their learning.

Access to the Outdoors: We hear a lot about the importance of children getting outside. In effect, how contact with nature positively impacts their physical and mental health. Directors determine where and when children go outside. They answer questions such as: Will the school have its own outdoor play space? How often will each class go outside? Will there be a set schedule? Can teachers go out whenever they want? How far can the children walk to a playground? Will they go out in all kinds of weather?

Margie Carter and Deb Curtis have written extensively on what makes a “visionary director” (Carter and Curtis, 2009)—one who has all of the practical, personal, and educational tools to shape a center. They point out that it can take up to 18 months for a director to be truly rooted in a school’s culture and feel an organic sense of acceptance, faith, and control over the life of the center. Directors should be lifelong learners and model that stance for teachers and parents. By bringing all of us together—a community of children, teachers and parents—the director sets the magic in motion and masters the magic over time. When parents select a center, they choose that director’s particular brand of magic, which may be newborn or beautifully aged over time.

Renee Bock is a dedicated early childhood educator, who is currently the chief academic officer at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan that is committed to setting the standard for infant and toddler care and education. Renee has more than a decade of experience in the field and holds a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College in New York. She has three sons, Ariel (16), Raffi (14), and Shaya (13).

Why Dance Injuries Happen in Kids, And How to Prevent Them

Young ballerinas practicing a choreographed dance
Adolescence is a time of significant physical and psychological development for the dance student, and is typically coupled with a huge jump in training frequency and intensity. All of these factors combined make the adolescent dancer uniquely susceptible to dance injuries. In fact, injury incidence nearly doubles in 14 to 16-year-old dancers compared to dancers 9 to 13 years old.

At the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, we treat dancers of all ages from amateurs to professionals. Whether your child is dancing in an after-school group or a Broadway show, it’s crucial to remember the top risk factors for injuries in adolescent dancers, and the best ways to prevent dance injuries from occurring.

Risk: Growth spurt
The growth spurt is the most rapid and significant period of physiological development of any person’s life outside of when they’re babies. Adolescents generally experience growth spurts between ages 9–13 for girls and 11–15 for boys. Dance students, both male and female, are typically about two years behind their non-dancer counterparts in the onset of adolescent growth changes. Adolescents can experience growth slowly over a period of one to two years, or they can grow very rapidly over a period of a few months. The rate of this growth can dictate how significantly an adolescent dancer will be affected, both in their dance technique and injury risk.

During any growth spurt, the bones of the body grow first, followed by the surrounding soft tissue, including the muscles and tendons. This can create an internal imbalance in a dancer’s body that can lead to temporary decreases in flexibility, strength, coordination, and balance. These are temporary changes, but they can result in impaired technique and early muscle fatigue, which in turn increases the likelihood of injuries like tendinitis or stress fractures. These changes can also lead to psychological distress in young dancers – they don’t understand that their technique is suffering because of growth changes and can lose confidence in their ability to dance.

Safety tip: Simple activity modifications in class and rehearsal, such as reducing number of jumps, relevés, and other similar moves, can mitigate these issues and allow students to safely participate in dance throughout their growth spurts. Also, explaining to the adolescent dancer that these changes are temporary and due to a growth spurt can help boost their confidence in class.

Risk: Poor nutrition
Proper nutrition is critical in fueling the growing dancer’s body. Research into adolescent dance students has shown tendencies toward insufficient calorie intake and poor nutrition overall. Dance students can burn between 2,500–3,500 calories in a day, but the typical dance student only eats between 1,400–1,800 calories per day. The drive for thinness in dance often overrides common sense in young dancers. Because these adolescents are connected deeply with their identity as dancers, they will sacrifice proper nutrition for the sake of staying thin. This is an unhealthy attitude for all dancers to have, but can be especially damaging for an adolescent dancer whose body has increased nutritional needs for proper growth and development.

Female dancers are especially prone to injuries like stress fractures due to the connection between caloric intake, menstruation, and bone density development.

Safety tip: Adequate calcium intake (1,000–1,500mg/day) as well as getting enough calories (at least 2,500 calories per day) can reduce the likelihood for these types of injuries in female adolescent dancers.

Risk: Periodization
Dance training is rooted in the artistic culture of dance, which means that it does not follow the typical sports model of “in” and “off” season. Dance students often train at high intensity throughout the year and do not have an off season to let their bodies rest and recover from the demands of dance training. Dancers who train at a high intensity for too long are more likely to develop overuse injuries like tendinitis and stress fractures.

Safety tip: Periods of rest and recovery with a focus on cross-training activities instead of dancing are necessary to allow the dancer’s body to recover from the stress of dance training. Yoga and pilates are great activities for building and maintaining muscle strength, plus they are complimentary to dance training. Cardiovascular training—such as bike riding and swimming— is an excellent way to boost endurance while a dancer is on break.

If you have questions about keeping your child safe when dancing, speak to a trained professional.

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

Alison Deleget, MS, ATC is a certified athletic trainer with over 12 years’ professional experience; 10 years in the performing arts setting at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Diseases. She has presented on adolescent dancer injury risks at national and international dance medicine conferences, and has worked extensively with professional dance companies and Broadway shows providing onsite rehabilitation services. She regularly lectures at dance schools on topics such as injury prevention and injury management.


5 Things to Consider When Choosing Summer Activities

little girl on a playground

There are so many amazing kids’ summer activities on Kidz Central Station that it can be difficult to decide which one, or how many to enroll your child in each week. And since many summer classes and activities are starting soon or have already begun (don’t worry you can sign up for most classes a prorated price!), it’s important to sign up now before spots fill up. If you can’t quite get yourself to hit the “Enroll” button, here are five important things to consider when choosing summer activities—tips that may just help make your decision easier.

What does your child want? It’s easy to choose the class or activity that sounds great to you as a parent, but the real question is, what do you think your child will enjoy? It’s important to consider his or her personality and likes/dislikes before making an ultimate decision. When does your child nap? Make sure to choose classes around your child’s schedule and not around what your friends are choosing for their kids. After all, you are the one who will be dealing with Mr. Crankypants every day if he misses his nap.

What do you want? As mentioned above you have to think about your child and his or her interests when choosing a class or activity. However, this logic only goes so far. As the adult you know what’s best, and you have to go with your gut when picking a class or multiple classes this summer. If you think your child could use an extra class each week to help with learning and development, do it! Or, if you’re a stay at home parent, it may be important to you to have multiple scheduled activities each week so that you and your child are both able to get out and enjoy social time with others. Just make sure not to overschedule!

Let kids be kids. On the note of overscheduling, while at Kidz Central Station we are all for kids having structured classes and time to learn and grow with others, we also think it’s vital that kids have time to be kids—which means running around, getting out energy, and enjoying free play outdoors. Carve out time for your kids to enjoy trips to the park, speeding around on scooters and bikes, and playing around with other kids in the warm summer sun (with plenty of sun protection of course!)

Summer is busy. If you’re one of the many people who schedule extended vacation time and multiple long weekends over the summer, you may be hesitant to sign up for a class that your child may end up missing . . . a lot. But hold that thought—there are so many great options available on Kidz Central Station to fit your busy summer schedule. Here’s why: Many classes run on shorter semesters as a way to accommodate those who go away for a month at a time. Also, almost all kids’ classes offer make ups, so you can reschedule any missed sessions due to travel. Finally, there are tons of drop-in classes on the site (check out our weekly event calendar to find out about one-time activities happening near you) so you don’t have to commit to a full semester.

Be budget-conscious. Classes and activities are important—they keep kids learning, growing, and socializing with others. However, they can also be costly, especially if you have multiple children taking multiple classes each week. Keep your budget in mind by signing up for Kidz Central Station’s weekly newsletter, which will let you in on exclusive discounts on your favorite classes! Also, by registering for classes and activities on Kidz Central Station you’ll earn reward points, which are good toward discounts on future classes. You can also use the site to search by price, so you can find classes that are well within your budget.

Don’t Let Twin Pregnancy Ruin Your Self-Confidence

standard_yay-13531916By Shannon O’Reilly-Fearn

There are two photos of me pregnant with my twins. Literally, two photos and only one that I posted for my friends and family to see. A multiples pregnancy can be very draining on your self-confidence, from the big belly early on to the stretch marks and incessant heart burn. I didn’t feel beautiful with the girls and  I don’t think I got that pregnancy glow. I just had hideous ongoing nausea and a belly that was so heavy early on that my back constantly ached. But here is where I want this “I’m too big to be pretty” perception to STOP with twin moms.

Tiger stripes. Be proud of them! How many moms can go through childbirth once and produce two babies? Be proud of your stretch marks, and in fact, every time you see them remind yourself that you are a baby-making rockstar. For the record, your partners don’t find them ugly like you do; they see them as part of their baby mama—which is kinda sexy don’t you think?!

Premature labor. When moms of multiples give birth earlier than planned—which can shatter self-confidence—you can feel as though you didn’t do your job. To this I say a big fat NOT TRUE. You did the best you could do! Babies choose when they want to come and there is absolutely nothing you could have done to stop them. That is why we have wonderful NICU staffs to help finish cooking them outside of your belly until they are ready to go home.

Bedrest. The dreaded stay-in-bed-until-you-give-birth. There is nothing more draining than not being able to walk around and have your independence. Instead of seeing this as a hindrance, join any or all of the online multiples groups (including ours!) and plan to complete one task each day as to give yourself a purpose. One day look into baby wearing—see what your options are for wearing two babies at once. The next day research breastfeeding positions—you can practice in bed with dolls and see what feels comfortable to you. Use the time effectively and enjoy not having to shave your legs—when your babies get to be two years old like mine are they might point to your leg stubble, shake their heads, and say “No mama, nooooo!”

Shannon O’Reilly-Fearn is the founder of Twin Love Concierge, a company she created to provide personalized support for parents of multiples. She offers workshops and personal consultations throughout the NYC metro area, which you can sign up for via Kidz Central Station! She is also a mom to identical twin girls. Want to know how she does it all? Check out her Head of the Class Mom interview!