The Importance of Group Storytime

By Lauren OBrien

group storytime.jpgAs a parent of a little one, we know you’ve done your research on the importance of building early literacy at a young age.

You’ve built literacy into your daily routine — maybe over breakfast, during bath time, and that nightly story before bed. But, do you know the importance of exposing your child to storytime outside of the home? Specifically, storytimes where your child is part of a group and there is someone else reading?

When you take your child to a group storytime, they are actually building DIFFERENT early literacy skills than the ones you work on at home!

Here’s why…

  • Listening to another adult narrate a story. Everyone reads differently — different tones, different character voices, etc. By watching and listening to another person read, you child is learning social queues and body language expression.
  • Allowing others to pick the story. Not only does this mean YOU could get to hear a new story (aren’t you tired of reading Cinderella for the 100th time?), but your child gets to hear new authors and genres that maybe they wouldn’t otherwise have been exposed to otherwise.
  • Building social skills. Reading in a group exposes your little one to the experience of participating and sharing their ideas. It gives them an opportunity to practice their listening skills, use learned vocabulary/language skills and build confidence.
  • Learning new things…for you! That’s right! During story time, you might learn new rhymes, songs, reading games that you can do at home.

Visit your local Gymboree Play & Music, where we bring storytime to life!

It’s Not Just Green Eggs & Ham, Sam I Am!

dr-seuss-birthdayBy Lauren O’Brien

 

Earlier this month it was the King of Rhyming’s birthday – Dr. Seuss! Both kids and adults alike love the rhyming fun of Dr. Seuss, but there was a method to his rhythmic madness!

 

The Benefits of Dr. Seuss and Rhyming: 

  • For Newborns: Dr. Seuss’s prose is literally like music to your baby’s ears.
  • For Toddlers:
    • Improved memory and cognitive development – the short rhythmic passages are easy for children to digest and understand, committing Dr. Seuss’ educational message to memory!
    • Increased vocabulary — Dr. Seuss’ use of made up words actually mirrors the way kids speak! And, even though “barbaloots” isn’t a real word, those pretend words help your little one explore language and learn new words.
    • An early love of books and storytelling — Dr. Seuss’ wacky words and ideas delights young readers with their ridiculousness. Did you say GREEN EGGS?! Little ones love the extreme silliness of his stories.
    • Better listening skills — Dr. Seuss is anything but boring! His crazy stories keep the little one’s attention, anxiously waiting for the next silly word to come out of your mouth!

So grab a book, find a nook and take a look at your favorite Dr. Seuss stories! Because it’s aways a good time to rhyme! 

Sign up for a Gymboree Play & Music class near you! 

L is for LOVE!

There are a million ways to express love for your little one, whether it’s physical affection, quality time, words of affirmation, active listening…you name it. Any acts of love are supporting your child’s early development and have a huge effect on how they decide to take on life!

L “L” is for LET your little one(s) know they can take risks! When children know they are loved and safe, they build confidence and are more comfortable testing their limits and taking risks. it helps them build the confidence to take risks and try new things.

O “O” is for being ON their side! Children need fans! Your love and support lets them know that somebody is always on their side in life. Having someone cheering them on makes them excited to improve and learn new things.

V “V” is for showing they are VALUABLE! It’s great to show love and encouragement after your little one reaches a new milestone, but it’s also important to relay that your love is because of WHO they are and not only based on WHAT they’ve done.

E “E” is for EVEN when they make mistakes! Kids actually learn MORE when they fail then when they succeed. So, encourage them to keep on trying and reassure them that failure is OK! If they know they are allowed to fail, they will push themselves to try new things!

 

Show your little one(s) how much you love them at Gymboree Play & Music!

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February Book Recommendations!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this month’s theme is LOVE! We asked our knowledgable programming team to put together a list of books recommendations around bonding, love, and affection. So, grab that cozy blanket and snuggle up with your little one for some heartwarming reads!

llamallamaLlama Llama I love You
By Anna Dewdney
What could be better than Llama Llama on Valentines Day?! We LOVE Llama Llama books! The simple rhymes support language development, and repetition helps build memory and builds your little one’s vocabulary. The sweet message is all about how to show others you care by making them something special. A sweet and simple message perfect for all ages.


kissinghandThe Kissing Hand
By Audrey Penn
The Kissing Hand, now a classic, is a sweet story about the bond of mom and baby. If you are starting to discuss leaving your little one at pre-school, with a caretaker, or camp, the Kissing Hand is a wonderfully simple story that helps with any kind of separation. We recommend this story for anytime, but especially when talking about feelings.


guesshowmuchiloveyou

Guess How Much I love You!
By Sam McBratney
A lovable story about the boundless love between a child and a parent. As Little Nutbrown Hare shows dad how much he loves him, dad shows Little Nutbrown that he loves him back just as much or more! A sweet story to snuggle up with no matter how old your child is.


lovehungrycaterpillar

LOVE from The Very Hungry Caterpillar
By Rebecca Witford and Martina Selway
A visit from a very famous little caterpillar brings LOVE to life! With colorful images and fun phrases that support language development, this book SHOWS us how special people can make us feel important and loved. A wonderful addition to your February book list!

January Book Recommendations!

This month’s theme is GET MOVING! Our amazing programming team put together a list of book recommendations that are both fun and educational, all the while promoting body movement!

head to toe bookHead to Toe
By Eric Carle
Encourages little ones to clap their hands, stomp their feet and touch their toes! Great for an active and interactive read!

 


oh! bookOH!
By Kevin Henkes
All the animals and children like to play in the snow! You can join along with all the ways the animals play in this wintry active read-a-loud!


lets play bookLet’s Play!
By Herve Tullet
Can you wiggle, slide, jump? Follow along with little yellow dot, as he explores movement and emotions. Excellent for reading aloud and repeating the actions!


little yogaLittle Yoga
By Rebecca Witford and Martina Selway
Toddlers first introduction to yoga! Beautiful illustrations model how to move into these child friendly poses! Join in on the fun!


bear hunt bookWe’re Going on a Bear Hunt
By Michael Rosen
Can’t go under it, can’t go over it, gotta go through it! This classic is an incredible book for imagination, directional vocabulary and for acting it out! Don’t let the bear catch you!

Easy Resolutions for Our Gymbo Families

By Lauren O’Brien

Happy 2019 to all of our Gymbo Families!

It’s a New Year and, for many, that often means New Year’s resolutions. But, you may have noticed that things got a tad more difficult once the little one(s) came into the picture — you know, things like wearing clean clothes. Resolutions may also change depending on your child’s age. Here are some easy resolutions our parents can make in 2019, broken down by age!

If you have an infant:

Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Your life feels like it’s been flipped upside down and everything is different. But, ACTUALLY, the most common advice we hear new mom’s give is to KEEP DOING YOU! Make a resolution to keep getting out there — take your little one wherever you used to go, because, once they start walking, it’s game over!

If you have a 1 year old:  

Yay! Your little one is finally becoming an interactive little human! Around one year, children start to develop their adorable little personalities — so this is a key time to GET YOUR PLAY ON!  Encourage playtime whenever possible. And the great part of this resolution? It’s so easy…and won’t be given up on January 5th.

If you have a toddler:

Has your little one started to request that you turn into a monster or princess or animal? Your little toddler’s mind is abuzz with the many possibilities of the world. They’re starting to discover and understand the power of their imagination — and that they can recreate their favorite things in THEIR MIND! It’s difficult not to take over, but make a resolution to let them take the lead during playtime and encourage their elaborate imagination (even if it means you’re always the evil stepmother)!

With that building imagination can also come messiness. Just remember, there’s a difference between mess and filth! Stuffed animals all over the couch? That’s your child imagining that their friends need a comfortable place to sit! When encouraging your toddler’s imagination, sometimes that means accepting clutter, chaos and messiness. So, this year we say EMBRACE the imagination and the mess that comes with it!

If you have a 4-5 year old:

Your little one is out in the real world and has started school! Boundaries and rules will become a key lesson in school, which is great! But, keep in mind that unstructured or “free” play time is still important for their growing minds. That means, play time where they get to decide what THEY want to do. “Free” play time allows little ones to practice decision-making skills and discover their own interests and hobbies. So, for our parents with school-age kiddos, make a resolution to schedule UNSCHEDULED playtime!

Start your year off right! CLICK HERE TO ENROLL NOW and pay $0 Initiation Fee! 

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.

Laughter and Early Childhood Development…+ Giggle Tips!

By: Lauren O’Brien

Nothing fills our hearts more than our child’s giggles. But, did you know that laughter and having a sense of humor plays an important role in developing self-esteem, learning to problem solve, and honing social skills?

To develop that sense of humor in our children, we have to have a good sense of humor too! And, it’s easy! You wouldn’t know it, but silly things like poking fun of yourself when you spill milk sends a message that it’s ok to make mistakes — and it’s ok to laugh at those mistakes. If you can laugh when you make a mistake, it also demonstrates that you can accept imperfection. This makes the idea of getting up and trying again less intimidating for your little one, and more likely that they’ll keep trying if it’s ok to fail. And, as you know, we encourage failure because that sparks learning!

Kids also provide plenty of opportunities for laughter (sometimes unknowingly!). It’s important to encourage that and be the best audience possible by responding to their attempt at humor. You may not think it’s hilarious to bang into the wall but, hey, if that makes them squeal with laughter, run with it (or into it!).

So, let’s encourage those funny faces and  sounds…and bust out some jokes. Let’s face it, your children will only think you’re hilarious for so long! 

Here are some of our favorite ways to get those giggles going in our little ones:

Infant

  • Funny faces: Open your eyes wide, puff out your cheeks, stick out your tongue. At first your child’s laughter will be in response to you, but they will eventually try to copy you.
  • Surprise game: Change your facial expression every time you say “Boo!”. After about 4 months, babies love the element of surprise!
  • Silly sounds: Make up your own or copy your child’s noises while smiling and laughing to reinforce that the behavior is funny.
  • Playful songs: This Little Piggy with tickles and song always gets a laugh. There’s also The Happy Song — scientifically written and designed to make babies laugh!

Toddler

  • Surprise tickles: Raspberries on the tummy never get old!
  • Funny rhymes: “See ya later, Alligator!” “Give me a hug, ladybug!”  “Out the door, dinosaur!”
  • The unexpected funny: Pick up their foot and pretend to make a silly phone call. Put a bowl on your head and say it’s a hat.
  • Silly songs: I Like to Eat (who eats ay-ples and ba-nay-nays…that’s silly!), The Hokey Pokey (silly dancing and body movements always get a giggle), Slippery Fish (using funny voices makes this one a real toddler-pleaser)

Preschool

  • Goofy voices: While reading to your child, change voices for each character. The sillier the voice, the better!
  • Silly songs: An old time favorite is Slippery Fish! Any song with silly voices and hand movements (maybe even some tickles) always gets laughs.
  • Crazy dress up: Encourage your child to put on your clothes and pretend to put on theirs — they’ll think it’s hilarious that you even try to fit into their clothes.
  • Funny food: Make your child’s food funny, such as smiley face pancakes! Or get a giggle by turning your sandwich into a talking mouth!
  • Cracking Jokes: One of our favorites is “What comes before part B? Part-AY!”

Redirecting That Frown Upside Down!

Let’s be honest. Parenting is challenging and sometimes we will do anything to just get our little one to stop throwing that tantrum in the middle of the store –yelling, bribing, you name it! But, learning how to take a negative and turn it around into a positive can have an enormous impact on your child’s emotional development!

You may have heard the term “redirecting” before. Redirection basically takes an emotionally-charged situation and diffuses it in a POSITIVE WAY!

Below are some typical parenting scenarios.

Curious Infants
When you have an infant who loves to get into everything.

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 6.29.46 PM.png

Infants are very curious little beings. Always, interested in anything and everything they can get their hands on, especially drawers! Encourage that curiosity in a safe way – maybe create a “safe drawer” filled with tupperware or other plastic containers. They can rummage and bang away to their heart’s desire and you can relax knowing your child is playing safe!

Adventurous Toddlers
When your child is testing those boundaries.

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 6.30.05 PM.png

During toddler years, there is plenty of experimenting, trying new things and pushing those boundaries. That’s how they learn! But, with that, can come an impulsive “NO” from the parent. Maybe your child is trying to climb up the slide while another child is coming down. Rather, than telling them “Stop!” or “don’t do that!”, you can teach them about taking turns, explaining why they need to wait a minute but that they can still enjoy the activity.

Determined Preschoolers
When your child is learning new things and gets frustrated.

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 6.30.21 PM.png

Preschoolers are constantly learning and challenging themselves. But, tackling new challenges can also come with some frustration for them. Maybe your child is throwing blocks because they can’t figure out how to build the tower. Sit down with them and calmly show them another way to build that tower, build an entirely new structure, or take them outside and throw a ball to get that frustration out!

We know parenting isn’t a one-size-fits-all initiative! But we do know that a great place to practice redirecting is at Gymboree Play & Music!

Introducing…Our GymboFam Member, Kim Caldwell!

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 6.30.57 PM.png

You may recognize her from American Idol but she’s also a new member of the GymboFam — and took over our Instagram for #TuesdayTakeover!! Kim and her little one, Harlow, love going to our Art class and Play & Learn class every week. Harlow has gained so much confidence joining the classes — she’s even gone to a Baby Prom already! And Kim says the classes keep her young and inspired!

Check out Kim’s #TuesdayTakeover and see all of the Gymbo fun her and Harlow are having!