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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Manage expectations

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

Safety

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

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

Santa is coming to NYC! At Brookfield Place

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

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

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

Reservations are limited. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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

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Brookfield Place

230 Vesey St., Level 2

New York, NY 10281

Top Rated Piano Lessons for Kids

Piano Lessons for Kids in NYCThere are many reasons for our kids learn to play piano aside from it being a pretty impressive party skill.  Piano lessons help with concentration, discipline, listening, reading, and creativity.  Playing piano helps develop emotions and build confidence.  Your kids can start as early as 4 or 5 but any age is the time to begin a lifelong love of music.  Below are the best classes and teachers in the NYC area.

High Note NYC Piano and Vocal Instruction (E27th)

Discounted 5-lesson pack and trial class available.  One-on-one weekly sessions  incorporate theory and ear training with piano playing while following method books and appropriate supplemental materials. Ages 3+.

Natalia Huang Piano Studio (E40th)

One on one private piano lessons each week focusing on playing the piano, technique, ear-training, sight-reading, and music appreciation. Weekly lessons of 30, 45 or 60 minutes.  Two or three workshop performances each year and annual recital in June. Ages 5+.

New York Stage of Mind (LIC)

Trial class available. Piano Lessons are offered in a weekly one-on-one format on baby grand piano. Lessons are offered in 3 formats: 30 minutes, 45 or 60 minutes. Schedule is flexible. Ages 3+.

Willan Academy of Music (8th Ave or in-home in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens)

No obligation 30 minute trial piano lessons are available. Piano lessons provide students individual instruction in a comfortable setting. For children ages 4+ and adults. Choose from 30, 45 or 60 minutes.

92nd Street Y (UES)

Group Piano 5-7 Years (Beginner) introduces your children to the fundamentals of music in a fun group environment.  The class is for Ages 5-7 and runs 45 minutes.

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!

Museum Adventures for Kids in NYC

Art is a story and all children love stories, right?   Modern & contemporary art is usually about color, line, shape, technique, the idea (conceptual art), and society (overproduction of product, commercialism, mass-production, …etc).  To get your children interested in art, you might want to ask them, “What do you think this story is about?” and go from there!

Learning Adventures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Lauren Pohl, founder of Kidz Central Station  got to tag along with Museum Adventures recently on a tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 4-5 year olds. The tour showcased 4 artists tailored to young learners:  Rosenquist, Yves Tinguely, Roy Lichtenstein and Ellsworth Kelly.  During the tour the children learned about:

– advertising, color and everyday objects (Rosenquist)
– discovered lines in everyday objects (Tinguely)
– made lines, dots and patterns (Lichtenstein)
– and made our very own color wheels and color-mixing window collages (Ellsworth Kelly).

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The children and adults both enjoyed learning about the various artists and having the ability to sit down at the MET and actually do art projects together.  The tour guide, Claire was great at pointing out how to be inspired by the art all around them.  She also told the children about the backgrounds of the various artists. Parents were proud to watch their children ask questions, and to see how the art looked through their eyes.

One little girl at the end of the tour even exclaimed, “As soon as we get home I am going to go to my room and draw a picture of my family and use all the colors I saw today!” How cute is that?

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Want to learn more about Museums Adventures or book your own tour? KidzCentralStation.com has lots of options – book here!

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