Our Year in Review

By: Lauren O’Brien

Wrapping up the year always sparks some internal reflection. We took a look back on moments and milestones of the year and realized we accomplished A LOT! So, we took the liberty of doing a little math to help paint a beautiful picture of all things Gymboree Play & Music in 2018!

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*All numbers are based off of data for North America Gymobree Play & Music locations  

Meet GymboFams Ambassador Brie

My name is Brie Donel, my family started at Gymboree Play & Music at the Westside Pavilion mall in Los Angeles back in 2012 when my first child was 13 months. Alex was (and still is!) a little boy with an endless supply of energy! When he started he was only just beginning to cruise but within a few short weeks he was walking and running! As he grew older, it became apparent he was developmentally delayed and was eventually diagnosed with Autism just before the age of 3.

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The staff at Gymboree Play & Music were so incredibly supportive of us during that difficult time and when he struggled with being at a typical preschool, he thrived at Gymboree Play & Music’s school skills. He was happy there, comfortable and knew his teachers well. When he turned 5 and had to move on it was a very emotional day for us all. After Alex graduated we stopped by our Gymboree Play & Music whenever we were at the mall so he could see his old teachers.

I had my second child, another boy, named Oliver, in 2017. I brought Oliver to the Gymboree Play & Music Baby Lab when he was 6 months old and he has been attending ever since. The best part? One of Alex’s former teachers still works at Gymboree Play & Music and is now Oliver’s teacher! Alex will come with us to watch Oliver play and to continue his bond with the teacher he has known since he was one.

Our Gymboree Play & Music holds such a special place in my heart which is why I am so excited to join the GymboFams team! I hope one day when my boys are both grown up to even work for Gymboree Play & Music myself. That is how much I love it there!

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You can follow Brie at: https://www.instagram.com/briedonelphotography/

What’s In a Hug?

By: Lauren O’Brien

The holidays can mean lots and lots of affection. Maybe you’re not looking forward to Great Aunt Jan’s inevitable kiss on the lips, but did you know that giving your kiddos daily physical affection can significantly help their early childhood development?

Research shows that it’s not only important that children KNOW they are loved but to also FEEL that they are loved.  The saying “actions speak louder than words” is quite applicable when it comes to child rearing! Physical affection communicates a message of safety and trust. When your child feels that safety, they are more open to explore the world around them and try new things.

But, other than smothering your children in kisses and hugs, what are other physical ways to show them you love them? And, maybe you need some ideas on how to mix it up. Well, that’s what we’re here for!

Here are five ways to incorporate more love and affection into your home:

  • Mix it up: There are SO many ways to show affection: Winks, high fives, rubbing noses, back rubs, piggy-back-rides, dancing…even rough housing counts!  
  • Surprise them: A surprise hug can make your kiddo feel extra special. Maybe they made you laugh or did something extra sweet for their sibling. Sometimes those random gestures can be more meaningful than the routine kisses goodbye.
  • Remind yourself: Let’s face it, life is busy! And, when we’re busy, the moment can sweep right passed us. So, it’s OK to set a reminder on your phone to help remember to show a little spontaneous affection!
  • Hug even when they mess up: You might be angry that they just hit their sibling, but if you show affection while disciplining, it actually helps them listen to what you’re saying. And, sometimes when they’re feeling bad about being yelled at, a little hug communicates that you still love them even though they made a mistake.
  • Play games: Playing games like Red Rover and Tag brings the family together in a fun, physical way.

Make A Melted Snowman!

Looking for a way to entertain the kids in December? How about creating some easy age appropriate art? Kids under 5 will love imagining a melted snowman and then sharing their creation with family and friends.

Materials:

  • Blue Construction Paper
  • White Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Googly Eyes
  • Pre-Cut Snowman Accessories (or make your own)

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Directions:

  • Give your child a piece of blue construction paper along with a paint brush and a cup of white paint. Invite them to begin painting  their “melted snowman”. Talk about how a melted snowman might look and feel.
  • While the paint is still wet have children stick the snowman parts (hat, arms, scarf, nose, eyes) directly onto their melted snowman. Talk about the shapes as you go.

Have them sign their name and enjoy!

Meet GymboFams Ambassador Kaci

Hello, I am Kaci and my son Logan has been attending Gymboree Play & Music in Forest Hills for a few months now. I honestly wish we had started earlier with him and will do so whenever we have more children!

love seeing him interacting with the others in the class, he bends down and babbles in their faces, and also his amazing ability to pick up on things so quickly. He is always learning something new and I don’t think he would be able to do this without his time at Gymboree Play & Music.


He is such an active and curious child that taking him to Open Gyms has been a lifesaver! Going to the park is fun but Logan tends to get himself into places he shouldn’t and try to run around areas with the teenagers. Open gym lets him run around, release his energy, and do so in a positive way.

Follow Kaci on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/mommyhiggs28/

Some Relatable Holiday Memes to Get Us Through the Greatest Time of the Year!

We know the holidays can be both joyous and nightmarish for parents. So, to help get you through the season, we’ve scoured the internet for some hilarious memes. Enjoy!

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way…nothing is going to be how you envisioned or planned…

With holiday pictures…

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And maybe that cute holiday treat you found on Pinterest that looked so easy to make…

Just remember that you’re not alone…

So, take the advice of flight attendants – take care of yourself before others…

Because, for a lot of you, December 1st means Elf on the Shelf!

At first you might get really creative…

Eventually you might start using it for evil…

View this post on Instagram

This. Is. The. Truth! 🙌

A post shared by Sharyn Kauffman Brigantic (@sharynbrigantic) on

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM EVERYONE AT GYMBOREE PLAY & MUSIC! 

Meet GymboFams Ambassador Kaitlynn

My name is Kaitlynn, but I’m better known as baby Madison’s mom at our local Gymboree Play & Music on Staten Island in NYC. Maddie is 9-months-old and has been attending classes with the amazing Miss Lucie, Miss Fran, and her new little friends the past three months. She loves Gymboree Play & Music and it’s been such a fun activity for our entire family!

My husband, Frank, and I always try to attend Maddie’s classes together as our schedules allow. The old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” holds true and is fully embraced here. We frequently see other children attending with both parents or sometimes with grandparents or other special family members in their place. We are grateful that the Gymboree Play & Music community wholeheartedly welcomes our family and other families to participate in this way, which was something important to us when finding a program that was the right fit.


Like many first time parents, Frank and I are both guilty of reading what is probably an unhealthy amount on childhood development and naturally worry about how the choices we make as parents can affect our child – despite knowing that we are taking great care of our happy, smart, funny, and beautiful little girl. I also work for a trusted health and pregnancy/parenting company and frequently see new evidence-based research being reported on this subject. The amount of varying information and opinions about what is “best” is ever increasing and because of that, it’s sometimes hard to know what is truly beneficial for our child.

One concept that has been scientifically proven countless times though is the positive effects that learning through play has on the development of the whole child, so we naturally incorporated it in our household once Maddie was born. We knew we eventually wanted her to join baby classes that were reflective of this, too. When we saw there was a Gymboree Play & Music location down the road from where we were looking at purchasing our first home, we did a little homework and discovered we loved its ideology, so we registered for a free class.


Who knew we had exactly what we were looking for so close by? Seeing Maddie with a big smile throughout the class and being incredibly engaged in this new experience was enough reason to sign up, so we did as soon as the class was over.

Being in a positive and fun setting like Gymboree Play & Music surrounded by other sweet babies was something new to our family and we felt at home right away. With Maddie being an only child and having no little ones in the family nearby, we really liked that she would have the opportunity to socialize with those around her age while further building other necessary foundational skills critical for her development. And as we went to more classes, the more we realized that the Gymboree Play & Music program and what we do at home can serve as an extension of one another.

For example, even before joining Gymboree Play & Music we would do various playful exercises with Maddie to promote physical development. One of these included placing her on top of a big blue exercise ball while firmly holding her and gently rocking side to side and back and forth to songs like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

This exercise may sound familiar to GymboFams! When joining our first play class at Gymboree Play & Music, Maddie got to ride the good ol’ air log for the first time and realized how similar it was to what we were doing at home. And of course to little Maddie, the air log was a million times bigger and better than our dinky exercise ball. The experience at Gymboree Play & Music was made even more fun because she got to participate with friends and learned new songs, which we now incorporate in our scaled down version at home.

Likewise, during a play class focused around spatial awareness we learned that some people are wired in a way where they don’t like to be in small spaces (like elevators) and were assured it is completely normal and okay if your child is one of those people. Turns out, Maddie is one of them! If it weren’t for learning this upfront at Gymboree Play & Music, I easily would’ve gone down a rabbit hole of worrying until I eventually researched to find that there is not a single thing wrong with this and it’s just how she is. Now at home, especially as we’re in the process of unpacking after moving, we’ve set up tunnels-galore out of big boxes for her to crawl through and play in. So far, she’s becoming more inclined to explore them, slowly but surely, at her own pace and comfort level as she chooses.

Each class is themed around a different area of focus, so it’s beneficial to children and parents alike. After each class, parents are able to go home and continue having fun with their children while integrating the various pieces of wisdom learned from listening in class.

We’re so grateful for the knowledge, fun, friendship, and positivity that our local Gymboree Play & Music has brought to our family and look forward to the many years ahead here!

Follow Kaitlynn on Instagram at:
https://www.instagram.com/theshoefit

Meet GymboFams Ambassador Theresa

My name is Theresa & I am the mother of a talented 11.5 year old girl named Ava & 7.5 month Girl/Boy Twins Aria/ Ace. I’m so happy to be back and Gymboree Play & Music!

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We love the music, songs and dances. I find it important to develop fine motor skills and to interact with your children daily. This not only helps them emotionally but also helps with connecting/bonding with your children.

The babies can’t get enough of the colors and activities. I’m soooo excited to be a GymboFams Ambassador and to share all the awesome things we’re doing. I’m also a working mother and I love pureeing the babies food.

You can follow Theresa at: https://www.instagram.com/triple_aaa18/

We’re Thankful for the Little Things in Life

By Lauren O’Brien

It’s November, the season of giving and reflecting on what we are thankful for in our lives. Here at Gymboree Play & Music, we want to highlight the small luxuries in life that parents are thankful for… you know, the things we didn’t realize were luxuries until we had our wonderful, beautiful children (who we love!)…

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        And, the most important thanks of all…

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WE’RE THANKFUL FOR OUR GYMBO FAMILIES! 

EVERY DAY WE GET TO CELEBRATE MILESTONES AND BUILD CONFIDENT LEARNERS!

Our Hearts Are With Thousand Oaks #TOStrong

Our hearts go out to all the families affected by the Camp, Woolsey and Hill Fires and particularly to the Thousand Oaks community. Our Gymboree Play & Music locations in Thousand OaksEncino and Westside Pavilion (Los Angeles) are open and are supporting families in the area by providing Free Open Gym play.

Please check our website for times. If you’d like help provide relief, you can donate to this local Ventura Country organization: https://vccf.org/ #CaliforniaFires #TOStrong

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