Tag Archives: Parenting

Head of the Class Dad, Danny Kron

Meet Head of the Class Dad, Danny Kron—Founder of FunFit Kids—and an amazing parent!dannyfun

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Fun Fit Kids?
I was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Canada but have been in NY for the last 8 years. I have a lovely wife who is my partner in all life things, including FunFit Kids. Together we have son who just turned 3 months. I originally thought up FunFit Kids and began by running weekend classes on the Upper West Side. Parents were looking for an alternative way to teach language (Hebrew) to children. At the same time, I also realized I had a passion for teaching kids the fundamentals of movement and having them explore different sports. In September, we’ll be opening a 2700 square foot gym on the Upper West Side. We have multi-sport, 2Lingo (language through sports), alternative preschool, special needs and much more.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
It’s a work in progress! Some say it’s crazy to start this venture after the recent birth of my son. But luckily my wife is my partner in the business and somehow we’re managing to get through it together.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
My wife was in labor. It was late at night (like 3am) and we grabbed a yellow cab. I had our hospital bag and birthing ball, all as planned. It was so late, and I was so tired, that I opened the door for her to get in the taxi, then proceeded to put in the hospital bag and birthing ball, all well also trying to squeeze into the back seat. I just kept pushing the birthing ball into my super pregnant wife and couldn’t, in my sleepy state, realize there was a whole empty trunk of the jeep taxi we hailed. Laughing (and also maybe crying) my wife said SLOW DOWN, put the stuff in the trunk! I did, hopped in the car and was on our way. It was a great reminder in life to slow down and take things step by step.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
Starting a business with a newborn means lack of sleep and the feeling that there are not enough hours in the day. Thankfully, sleep is improving, but there will never be enough hours in the day. The greatest reward is coming home after a hard day at work and seeing my son smile. Also, seeing families enjoy our classes makes me glad that the work I’m doing is wanted and worthy.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
I really wish I knew about the feeding schedule and the fact that it sometimes takes two of us. I never knew how much effort and time it takes to making sure the baby is happy and fed.

If you could give other dads one piece of advice what would it be?
Keep your partner happy and the baby will follow. Children feel the vibe of the household. I also learned, through FunFit Kids, it is important not to put your sports dreams on your children. Let children explore and discover what sports speak to them, and that it is okay if they are not the next Lebron James.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (I had the Hebrew version growing up called Ha’Etz ha’Nadiv)
What has been your favorite kids’ class (other than your own!)?  FunFit Kids 😉
What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?  We love to picnic in Central Park or walk along Riverside Park
What is your favorite rainy day escape?  We have lots of family on Long Island, and like to escape by visiting them. or by watching movie marathons.

Learn more about FunFit Kids, their great classes and amazing birthday parties in their beautiful new facility.

Tips to Get Your Teen on a Regular—and Healthy—Sleep Schedule

teensleepI hear from many parents that they struggle to get their teens to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Consistent sleep schedules are difficult for teens because there are many environmental factors—including school schedules, homework, extracurricular activities, and jobs—that regularly force teens to adjust their schedule in an unnatural way. The biological clock or circadian rhythm of a teen is actually designed to shift toward a delayed schedule; that is, teens naturally want to go to bed late and wake up late.

We notice this circadian shift starting around puberty, and we think it happens for two main reasons.  First, teens are the strongest, fastest, have the best immune response, tolerate pain and extremes of temperature better than adults, and they are more likely to take risks (like put themselves in harm’s way).  As a result, teens and those in their early twenties (“adolescents” in today’s parlance) are the best suited to protect the cave and clan while others sleep.  So, the adolescents stay up until the wee hours, while the adults sleep.  The oldest among us then awaken early and relieve the young protectors, who can now go to sleep as the dawn is breaking and the threat of predators has considerably lessened.

Second, teens have reached puberty and so are ready, by evolutionary standards, to begin coupling and reproducing.  And so, they need time alone with other teens, without the watchful eyes of parents, to get to know one another, measure up, and decide who belongs with whom; there’s no better time for this than late at night when the parents are asleep.  For these two reasons, teens and young adults typically have a delayed sleep schedule.

While studies show that teens actually benefit from later high school and college start times—and the CDC actually has advised that high schools not start before 8:30AM—fewer than 20% of American schools adhere to this recommendation. If your family is struggling with getting your teenager on a consistent sleep schedule, here are some helpful tips:

Learn about sleep and teach your kids. There are many great books, and the data on getting more sleep is compelling. I teach a college class on sleep at NYU, and I’ve learned that young people really do want to understand their sleep and get better at it. I talk with my own kids about the effects of not getting enough sleep, from the physical to the neuropsychological. Things like immune system functioning, digestion, height, concentration, muscle growth, skin strength, decision-making, memory, anxiety and mood, and so many more factors all improve when you get a good night’s sleep. And on the flip side, illnesses, wrinkles, weight gain, exhaustion, and irritability are all side effects of not getting enough sleep.

Take away screens an hour before bed and limit their use. Screens are distracting and keep us awake. Remember, moms and dads, you own the phone.

Limit sleep-disrupting light exposure. Try eye masks and/or heavy curtains to keep the light out of their eyes while they sleep. Download apps like lux or use ‘nightshift’ on their smartphone so that the blue light that blocks melatonin is removed from their screens. Light is the most influential factor in setting our internal circadian clocks, so we want to control light and make sure that we live in dim light for about 3-4 hours before bed, at the least.

Keep the last few hours before bed calm. Try and do something that’s not stressful before bed, at least for the last 30 minutes. Don’t watch a thriller or action adventure movie before bed—it will jazz your kids up.  Instead, read something relaxing, watch something easy like the food channel, or do something else that eases your mind.

Figure out a schedule that allows for sufficient sleep. As parents, try to help schedule your children’s lives so that they can get sufficient sleep. Make sure homework gets done as early as possible. Make it clear to your kids that while school performance is important, they shouldn’t pressure themselves to stay up all night long to work or study. In fact, we know from lots of data that people remember and learn much better when they’ve slept 8-9 hours than when they sleep less. Students who get more sleep do better in school.

Start going to bed earlier yourself.
Parents are the role models—when we take sleep more seriously, our kids will as well.

hassFrom the Real Experts at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone:

Jess Shatkin, MD, MPH, is a professor in the Departments of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. He also serves as the Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Child & Adolescent Mental Health Studies (CAMS) at NYU College of Arts & Science. He’s also the author of Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe.

How ‘Slow Parenting’ Can Help Your Family

slowAs a parent, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard, “Cherish these moments, children grow up way too quickly.” It’s true. I feel like it was just yesterday that my soon-to-be two-year-old was barely crawling. Yesterday he climbed a full set of stairs alone. I’m sure many of you reading this post can relate.

Today, many families are on a schedule from morning until bedtime, trying to get our children out the door, scrambling to meet job demands, ferrying our kids from one extracurricular activity to the next, grabbing dinner on the run, and squeezing in extra study or practice time. We thoughtfully program many aspects of our children’s lives in hope of giving them every opportunity we think can give them a leg up.

It’s no wonder many of us feel the end of the day comes way too soon and like life is just rushing by. Sound familiar? If so, it may be time to try a “slow parenting” approach to family life. Slow parenting embraces the idea of consciously pausing this constant motion and taking time to relish the special moments that might otherwise pass us by when we overschedule ourselves and our kids.

For example, I recently realized that I was trying to get my curious four-and-a-half-year-old from one activity to the next too fast. As we were heading out for ballet class one day, she said, “Mom, look at this bug on the floor! It’s so interesting. It’s crawling and falling over!” Normally, I would have rushed her out the door, but, with slow parenting in mind, I decided to stop and see what she was talking about, even if it made us late. We sat on the ground for 10 minutes examining this bug together. My daughter had a lot to say about it as she imagined different scenarios. This time together created a memory more special than watching her through a little glass window while she practiced ballet. We still talk about it, and a scrapbook now holds a picture I took of her with the bug.

Slowing down creates space for relaxation and quiet time, something children’s developing brains need to make sense of the world and integrate new information they learn every day. It also gives parents a chance to be mindful of and appreciate some of our kids’ more subtle developmental milestones like problem-solving and conversational skills. And, it gives us new snapshots of time that would have otherwise been ignored and swallowed up by more pressing demands.

Here are some ideas to help you get started with slow parenting:

1. Limit your children’s recreational activities like ballet or soccer to one activity per season, rather than two or three.
2. Make an effort to have sit-down dinners or even cook together on certain days of the week.
3. Prepare for the next day together the night before. This will allow some practice around choices in the evening (e.g., “Which outfit would you like [choice A or choice B]?” or “What would you like as a snack in your lunchbox?”) and more “together time” in the morning, when you can read to your kids, sing a song together on the ride or walk to school, or talk about the day ahead.
4. Rather than cramming weekends with birthday parties and other scheduled activities, spend a plan-free weekend at home and see what happens. We sometimes forget that there is so much to do together in our own living rooms: play family games, read books, or just chat.
5. Instead of rushing from one activity to the next, pause and say, “We are going to skip karate today and take some time to go for a walk,” or, “We’re just going to sit together and play a game.”
6. In the evening, talk with your kids about how their day went. If a book was introduced at school, read it together at home. If a special event occurred in the news, bring it up and see what their thoughts are.
7. Sit outside at night and talk about the different sounds you hear. Quieting down can give rise to important topics that would not naturally come up during an over-scheduled day.
8. Talk to your kids about your own childhood when the pace of life was slower. Share challenges you faced, fun experiences you had, and how you spent your time. Then suggest some simple, “old-fashioned” outdoor playtime: jump rope, toss a ball, play hopscotch.
9. Dial down the technology: turn off the TV, put phones away during dinner, simply be together and talk. Today’s kids are often whizzes at digital devices, but may be uncomfortable socially because they have little practice with back-and-forth conversation.
10. Pause and pay attention while your children are engaged in a project. For instance, if they are drawing, see how they are making sense of that activity and just appreciate who they are at the present moment.
11. Take time to give a hug and receive one. Just breathe your children in.

Slow parenting allows time to connect with our kids in a different, more positive way, and gives us a chance to quiet ourselves and feel less stressed. Today is a great day to start making the most of your time by doing less—together.

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

Daniela Montalto, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. She is the Clinical Director of the Child Study Center’s Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement.

Holiday Hothead? Tips for Preventing and Managing Your Child’s Holiday Behavior Problems

holiday-upset

It can be the most wonderful time of the year! It can also be a stressful time for parents who worry about how their child will behave at events with family and friends. The hustle and bustle of the season, changes to daily routines, parties, and gifts can contribute to parent-child conflict and meltdowns. The following tips will help you prevent problems and keep the season festive for all.

Anticipate potential problems
Different aspects of the season will be challenging for different children. Take a few minutes to think what parts may be hard for your child. For instance, will your child have trouble playing nicely with the children of relatives and family friends? Do you worry that your child may have tantrums or show disrespect if disappointed about a gift, or test the limits and try to get away with more than what is allowed at home? Problems during holiday travel are also common.

Set up for success
—Playing nicely with others: If your child tends to have trouble playing with others during less structured times, consider planning activities for an event you are hosting, such as cookie decorating, holiday coloring projects, holiday movies, and other games. Try to limit less-structured times if possible. If you are visiting instead of hosting, see if you can bring some activities for all of the children or ones your child can do independently such as stories, paper snowflakes, and coloring books.
—Avoiding meltdowns over gifts: Talk to your child in advance about the reason behind gift giving and the need to be polite to everyone who gives them a gift. Let them know it’s okay to be disappointed, but they still need to show respect. Get them involved in the giving process by picking out gifts for family and friends or donating toys for children less fortunate. Role play situations that may come up, like getting a hand knit sweater instead of that new video game they’ve been wanting.
—Travel tips: If your plans include a lot of travel, consider scheduling it during your child’s nap or at night so they can sleep. You can also bring snacks and toys, sing holiday songs, play games like 20 Questions, and consider using electronics, especially if you have a long flight or drive.
—Testing limits: Decide if it’s realistic and appropriate to use any punishment strategies. Knowing in advance if you will take away privileges or use a timeout will help you avoid making threats that only serve to frustrate you and your child when you cannot follow through.
—Scheduling: For any child who struggles to manage their behavior and emotions, longer days and events will test their resources to keep it together. Consider shortening visits and even saying no to some invites if the day is going to be too action-packed. It’s better to have shorter, more pleasant get-togethers than one that ends in an epic meltdown. If shortening a visit is not an option, see if there is a quieter place in the home for your child to take a couple breaks.
—Have a “worst case scenario” plan: This could be pulling your child aside for a break, having them stay with you if they are having trouble getting along with other children, or even leaving early if you are visiting. Make sure that you are comfortable following through with anything on the plan. Knowing the specific plan will help you feel most prepared.

Review expectations ahead of time
Based on the anticipated problems, let your child know exactly what you expect during holiday visits. Avoid vague expectations such as “Behave” and instead state clearly what behavior you want to see, like “Listen to me,” or “Share toys with other children.” Try to use positive language. Tell your child, “Say thank you for gifts even if it’s not what you were hoping for,” instead of “Don’t be rude.” Choose your battles carefully to focus on the most important goals–which can mean letting go of some limits you normally place. For example, it may not be critical to limit your child to one treat, especially if other children will likely have more and it will be hard for you to fully monitor while spending time with relatives.

During get-togethers
Instead of waiting for the end of a party, try giving frequent spontaneous feedback when you see your child following set expectations to build positive momentum. Make statements such as, “I’m so proud of you for playing nicely,” or “You did a great job being polite to thank grandma for the mittens and hat.” If you start noticing problems, stay as calm as possible (which will help your child stay calm) and use your “worst case scenario” plan. You may feel like other friends and relatives are judging your parenting. Try to remember that every parent has dealt with outbursts and problematic behavior at one point or another; some may just have trouble remembering or feel like they have to share their behavior management tip at an inopportune time.

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

Stephanie Wagner, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. She specializes in behavioral treatments for sleep as well as providing psychosocial interventions, including parent training, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and school consultation to parents and teachers of children with ADHD and disruptive behavior disorders. She is also the co-director of Early Childhood Service at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center.

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.

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

NYC kids summer day camp

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.

An Important Milestone: Reading Proficiency in the Third Grade

Kumon_GroupBy: The Kumon Team

Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is considered one of the most important benchmarks in a student’s academic journey. Students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade start falling behind in their knowledge and comprehension across all subjects. This effect “snowballs” as these students often fall further behind each year.

This is significant because the national average percentage of public school students reading proficiently in the beginning of fourth grade was only 34% in 2013. The other 66% of students are considered basic readers, and are four times more likely to drop out of high school. This finding comes from research conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which linked factors in students who drop out of high school. Many states have cited this report when making changes to their educational policies.

The Kumon Reading Program strengthens students’ reading abilities by building many essential literacy components such as vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension. It’s important for students to read often and be exposed to a variety of genres to maintain reading proficiency throughout school. Getting into good study habits and developing strong reading skills as early as possible sets an important foundation for school success. Studying ahead of grade level enables Kumon students to read proficiently and be confident in their reading abilities.

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

How to Help Kids with Chronic Hoarseness


“My five-year-old son constantly loses his voice, and has sounded hoarse for a long time. His teacher has a hard time hearing him and I’m concerned something is physically wrong. What should I do?”

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Chronic hoarseness is the most common voice problem in children. Unlike short-lived hoarseness typically caused by upper respiratory viral infections, chronic hoarseness can persist for months or even years if not treated. This can lead to communication difficulties in the classroom, on the playground, or in other noisy environments.

Why Some Kids Get Chronically Hoarse

Some children are hoarse from birth because of how their vocal cords developed. But most chronic hoarseness is caused by overuse or misuse of the voice.

Kids who are naturally loud or scream and yell a lot may incur injury of the vocal cords, the bands of tissue that vibrate to make sound. Speaking with injured vocal cords takes extra effort, and rather than resting their voices, kids typically get even louder. This sets off a repetitive cycle of increasing injury and pushing the voice, eventually causing bumps—also called nodules—to develop on the vocal cords, producing chronic hoarseness.

If your youngster experiences long-term hoarseness or has been hoarse longer than two or three weeks after getting over a respiratory infection, it’s time for an evaluation. Your pediatrician can refer you to a specialist to find the underlying cause and recommend the best course of treatment.

How It Is Diagnosed

Diagnosis involves laryngoscopy, a simple, 30-second procedure that allows inspection of the vocal cords. Older kids and those young enough to be held by a parent usually undergo laryngoscopy at the specialist’s office. After applying a topical anesthetic inside the nose, the doctor will insert a thin tube with a tiny camera through the child’s nose, down into the throat. Children between the ages of about four and seven may struggle and need to have it done in the operating room under anesthesia.

The most common finding is nodules, related to injury and chronic non-healing wounds of the vocal cords. Sometimes cysts or polyps are found, which are more advanced types of growths caused by overuse of the voice. Occasionally, examination will reveal papillomas, or warts, which generally occur in younger children and are usually related to a viral infection acquired in the birth canal.

Treatments for Chronic Hoarseness

Voice therapy. Most kids, particularly those with nodules, can be treated with voice therapy, where a voice therapist trains them how to speak and use their voices more efficiently. This might include teaching how air pressure affects the vocal cords, how to control the energy they put into their voices, and exercises to practice less abusive vocal behaviors.

Medication. In addition to voice therapy, some kids need steroid medication to calm down the bumps.

Voice rest. Your doctor might also recommend the child not talk for a period, but that may be difficult for younger children.

Surgery. Therapy alone may not be enough to treat cysts and polyps, which often must be removed surgically in an outpatient procedure. Papillomas typically require surgery as well. Pain is minimal and kids are generally up and active later in the day. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the voice to recover, so if surgery is performed during the academic year, children will have to miss some school to allow their voices to rest. It may be more practical for them to undergo surgery during summer break to minimize overusing their voices during recovery.

Temporary hoarseness is nothing to worry about, but don’t ignore longstanding hoarseness. Evaluation and treatment are essential for healing your child’s voice and improving his or her ability to communicate with the world.

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

Milan R. Amin, MD, is Director of NYU Langone’s Voice Center, specializing in the treatment of vocal cord problems, voice disorders, and swallowing and airway concerns. He is chief of the Division of Laryngology at NYU Langone, as well as president of the New York Laryngological Society.

Why Reading Aloud to Children from Birth is SO Important

reading_ (1)
Reading aloud to children is a critical part of the learning process, one that will help them develop the vocabulary and skills necessary to read on their own. In fact, a recent New York Times article discussed the announcement of a new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which stresses the importance of read-aloud time for infants and their parents. The AAP now urges parents to read aloud to their children from infancy to help build the pre-literacy skills needed for preschool and kindergarten. Studies have shown that children who have developed these pre-literacy skills tend to have larger vocabularies than students without them. Similarly, students with advanced pre-literacy skills perform better academically once they enter elementary school.

The new policy encourages reading, as well as talking and singing, to help increase the number of words children hear during their first few years. The article also suggests that reading should be a fun, daily family activity from infancy on.

While this new policy by the AAP is a recent development, the importance of early childhood education and the development of pre-literacy skills is a crucial concept that has been ingrained within the Kumon Program and the teachings of Toru Kumon. Toru Kumon promoted this idea of reading and developing pre-literacy skills at an early age with the phrase “reading before the age of three.”

In an essay written by Toru Kumon it states, “Children can easily learn to read before the age of three if you have children listen to songs and read to them.” Through the memorization of songs, children can increase their vocabularies and develop the ability to learn by heart, which in turn helps form the basis for self-learning. By exposing children to songs and books at an early age, parents can provide them with opportunities to build their familiarity with reading and help increase their vocabularies. In doing so, children also develop their abilities to think actively while listening to stories and picture the scenes described. By singing songs to your children and reading aloud to them, you can help strengthen their pre-literacy skills and prepare them for their academic futures.

Safety First: Teaching Safety Skills to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Child holding father's hand
If you have a child with autism, you know that safety skills are a primary concern. Your child can encounter situations every day—like crossing the street—that might pose a risk, or they might engage in dangerous behaviors such as wandering. It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to teaching your children best practices to avoid or how to respond to unsafe situations, but the strategies below can be applied to many common safety concerns that arise. Think about applying these steps to the scenario of your child getting lost in a store.

1. Assess: What is the safety issue? What does your child know about the situation?
Your child tends to wander or get separated when you’re shopping in a large store and you want to create a plan for what to do in that situation. Right now he doesn’t know who to seek help from or what information to give him if he gets separated from you.

2. Plan: Create a strategy for dealing with the safety issue at hand if and when it occurs.
In case of separation, make sure your child knows his full name, parents’ names, home address, and telephone number. If your child has very limited language abilities, he should have an ID card or bracelet with him at all times. If he gets lost in a store, he should go to the person or people you have indicated are safe to go to for help—e.g. police or security.

3. Teach a plan: Talk to your child about how she should behave in the situation.
Speak to your child about what might happen if she gets separated from you at the store. Explain how to respond when people call her name and to listen for an announcement on the loudspeaker. Also make sure she knows who to ask for help and to stay in one place if she can’t find help. Many children with autism respond well to having concrete rules and steps to follow.

4. Model appropriate skills: Demonstrate skills or activities in action using social stories, pictures, videos, and other helpful teaching tools.
Show him pictures online of the types of people he should ask for help (e.g. police, firemen, security). You can demonstrate the steps for him at home: pretend you are a lost child and go through the steps. You can also find videos online that demonstrate what to do when lost in a store.

5. Practice: Practice putting your child in the situation—in a safe, controlled environment—and allow her to practice the new skills in many different natural settings.
When you’re at a store, have your child point out people who could be helpers. Have her repeat what she would say to someone if lost, such as “I can’t find my mom, can you help me?” Then set up a realistic drill. Give the security guard at a store you’re familiar with a heads up that you’ll be practicing. Stay within earshot of your child—but not with her—and have her go through the steps you’ve explained. Generalization doesn’t occur easily, so repeat in a variety of settings with different kinds of helpers to ensure she can demonstrate her skills in unfamiliar situations.

Reward/give feedback: Praise and reward your child when he gets the skill right. You can gradually phase out the reward system as the skill becomes well-learned.
Tell your child how well he followed the steps of your plan, provide additional teaching where necessary, and reward attempts at learning new safety skills.

The most important step is to practice, practice, practice! Not only will it help your child stay safe, but it will help your peace of mind to know he has the skills to manage the situation.

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

Rebecca Doggett, Ph.D. is a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.