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!
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