It’s a new year with new milestones for our little ones! Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act, and move (crawling, walking, climbing, etc.). At Gymboree Play & Music, we encourage exploration and self-expression through activities where your little ones will learn to conquer new challenges and reach developmental milestones.
Everything we do is about building confidence here at Gymboree Play & Music. So, here are ways we help your child reach their milestones!
Sharing While sharing doesn’t actively happen until the pre-school age, engaging your tiny one in a class environment helps them adapt to different faces and people. At this age, they might not be sharing specific objects with each other just yet, but they are learning to share a space with others outside of the family environment.
Repetition & Routine
Some of the many wonderful class activities we offer such as singing songs, parachute time, and blowing bubbles, helps to sharpen your child’s memory and master new skills. Having a routine improves speed, increases confidence, and strengthens the connections in the brain that help your little one learn.
Trial and Error
When it comes to early development, failure and making mistakes leads to learning and success. It’s our mission at Gymboree Play & Music to encourage children to explore their boundaries and step out of their comfort zone. Mistakes can build resilience and encourages confidence.
Making Choices Decision-making is an important aspect of building confidence. Having pure freedom of our innovative playscapes provides your little one the opportunity to develop those keen decision-making skills. The playscapes equipment is specifically designed for multiple choices of use. Your child can choose to stand on top of the bridge, or to crawl underneath it. They can explore sliding down the slide or to climb it. The possibilities of exploration are endless as there is no wrong way to play!
‘Tis the season for celebrating peace, joy, and our wonderful community this December! Building relationships between parents, other children, and teachers is an important part of your little one’s development. The power of community can have a positive impact that supports social and cognitive advancement. Through relationships, children discover the world around them. Building and strengthening personal connections provide an opportunity for your child to develop social skills, communicate confidently, and develop a sense of understanding of themselves and others.
Here are a few ways you can help your child connect with family, friends, teachers, and people in your neighborhood:
Engage in role play by means of dress-up, and fantasy play. These types of play not only spark your child’s imagination, but your little one also learns the importance of taking turns, sharing, and functioning in communities outside of the family environment.
Make connections by sharing personal stories. Building bonds through storytelling improves listening skills, peaks curiosities, and enhances personal connections.
Practice social skills by teaching the importance of sharing, listening, cooperating, using manners, and respecting personal space. Instilling these social skills at an early age will help reduce stress in group environments while fostering positive interactions with peers.
Get Involved in community events as a family. Volunteering and participating in class activities provides an opportunity for your little one to connect with people who are working and playing together.
When children have a sense of belonging and security, they have the confidence to play, explore and learn.
In the thanksgiving spirit, we are celebrating kindness this November. We know as parents you have A LOT on your plate raising that tiny little human — just getting them fed and clothed can feel like a doozy on some days. Sometimes we forget that our little one is watching our every move! When you take the time to pause and say thank you to your barista for that delicious cup of coffee, your little one takes note. Why is this important? Well, those little moments accumulate in your child’s mind and help teach them about how to treat others. To the surprise of many, emotional intelligence actually does not always come naturally to all children. Often it is necessary for parents to take the initiative to help teach their child about understanding others’ emotions and about putting oneself in other people’s shoes.
Parents from What To Expect have put together a list of suggestions that we think are perfect for helping parents raise kind humans and teaching a little kindness!
Practice manners. The first baby sign language words both of our children learned were “please” and “thank you.” We remind our kids even before they can speak, that using manners is commonplace and expected. Our kids have brightened the day for countless cashiers and restaurant servers by signing “thank you” to them before they could even speak.
Introduce empathy. It is never too early to help guide children into recognizing other people’s feelings. We start this lesson through playtime with their siblings and friends. Our rule simply goes that if their playmate starts to cry or says “no” while playing, our kids should immediately stop what they are doing and ask, “Are you okay?” We remind them that we first check to see if they are okay before resuming playtime — and if not, they should get help.
Assist in our works of kindness. Our kids may not be old enough to participate entirely when our charity opportunities arise during the year; however, they are always aware of our plans and eager to help with tasks to prepare for the main event. Our toddler and preschooler help bake cookies for the local fire department, choose toys for our annual Adopt-A-Family through the Salvation Army, and raise money at Halloween with Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.
Encourage waving and smiling. Sometimes a smile and a wave can be the difference in a bad day. We encourage our kids to smile and wave to people around us, like our neighbors, the garbage man, and the grocery bagger. Having a friendly face toward others is a small but impactful way to be kind.
Teach conversation prompts. In our house, we practice saying phrases during particular situations that will help our kids feel confident while also being kind and caring towards others. We teach our kids to ask, “How is your day?” after saying hello to someone, and “Have a great day!” after saying goodbye. We also practice asking things like, “How is your dinner?” and mentioning, “I am glad to see you.” These simple phrases are mini-kindness boosts while speaking to others.
Practice before doing. Many times in public places, children can unfortunately be the root of frustration for other people. Although not necessarily fair, it is a truth, so we attempt to combat this unpleasantness by simply practicing appropriate behavior before doing new things in public. We have set up our own trial runs at home for the airport security line and appropriate knocking and response for trick-or-treat night. The benefits have been two-fold as our kids’ worries about a new situation have been greatly subdued by getting a chance to experience it first at home, but also for the people we have come in contact with during the real thing.
Approach frustration with patience. When we come upon a potentially frustrating situation, we speak aloud to our kids about what might be the reason for the circumstance and how we might be able to help. For example, if we come up to construction on the road where we have to sit and wait unexpectedly, I’ll say something like, “Looks like they are working hard on the road to keep us safe, huh?” I explain that we need to wait for our turn so that everyone can be careful while others work hard for, ultimately, our benefit. Sometimes patience and kindness are the same exact thing.
Be the example. No matter what you practice and teach your kids, it will rarely be as strong as the example that you show them each day in your own actions. If you speak kindly about others in your home and have patience in difficult situations, you will see your child mimic the same behavior and words in their own actions. Our kids notice when they see someone being kind to a stranger, and I have seen their smiles and manners literally change the frown on a person’s face to a surprised smile.
It’s one of our favorite times of the year…Halloween! And, with Halloween season comes spooky creatures, candy, and, of course, COSTUMES! Did you know there are tons of developmental benefits to letting your little one dress up in costumes and play? That’s right! When your little one puts on that pirate’s hat, they are transforming their world and pushing their minds to think outside the box!
There’s more going on under that pirate’s hat than you’d think! Read below to learn the many developmental benefits of pretend play and dressing up in costumes!
Dress-up engages your child’s brain and memory. Dramatic play requires kids to remember what they’ve seen or heard. They remember how their mother behaves when performing household chores when they are imitating her. Or they recall the details of a fairy tale they’ve heard before acting it out.
2. Vocabulary Building
Dress-up play builds vocabulary as a child decides what his or her character would say. It gives them a chance to expand their vocabularies with words and phrases that they might have heard in stories, but wouldn’t ordinarily use. Children may then begin to use these new words in conversations.
Who’s going to be the doctor? Who’s going to be the patient? Children must make decisions when they engage in dress-up play. They practice problem-solving problems when deciding on what costumes elements and props each character needs to act out a scenario.
When a child is engaged in role-play, it helps her see the world through another’s eyes which increases empathy – whether pretending to be a parent nurturing a baby, a doctor taking care of an injured patient, or a firefighter putting out a fire. Dramatic play helps children understand the role that helpers play in in our lives.
5. Emotional Development
Children are constantly confronted with scary situations that they don’t understand – whether witnessing an accident in real life, or seeing violent images on TV. Children process their fears through play, which helps them make sense of the world, and overcome their feelings of helplessness.
By allowing children to act out their fears through dress-up and role playing, we are helping their emotional development.
6. Motor Skills
Children develop fine motor skills by putting on dress-up clothes, whether buttoning a shirt, zipping up pants, or tying on a pirate’s bandana
They use their large motor skills when engaged in role-play, whether they are jumping like a superhero, running like a baseball player, or twirling like a ballerina.
7. Gender Exploration
When children choose costumes and characters to be, they are able to explore different gender identities and the behaviors of those characters.
While boys often want to be superheroes, firemen, or pirates, and girls often want to be fairies and princesses, it is normal and healthy for children to try on different gender roles as they learn about the world. A child should never be ridiculed for pretending to be a different gender.
Children are naturally imitative creatures. They learn about the world by imitating the lives of the adults and others around them. Through dress-up and dramatic role-play, children explore the lives of other people by imitating their actions, feelings and words.
Dress-up play encourages cooperation and taking turns. Children learn how to negotiate as they agree on stories and rules. They develop interest in others and learn how to give-and-take.
Children’s imaginations are limitless, and have not yet been hardened and constrained by the “realities” of the world. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, believed that imaginative play in early childhood is the key to creative thinking during the adult years.
When children engage in dress-up play, their imaginations are given free reign. There is no limit to who, where, or what they can be.
Don’t forget to reserve your spot at one of our Gymboween parties this month! Dress up your little one for a spooktacular good time! Click here to find a location near you.
As parents, we always want the best for our child and for our child to succeed at everything they do. It’s in our nature to want to help them and nurture them through everything they do. However, when it comes to early development, failure and making mistakes actually leads to their learning and success!
As your little one grows and tackles new developmental milestones, failure is inevitable. When your child learns to walk, falling down and getting up again as they learn to balance is part of the process! When your little one learns to feed themselves, we all know that very little of that food is going to make it into their mouth — but that’s all part of the learning! Your child is actually learning how to succeed in each of these examples by failing (falling, dropping their food, etc). Learning from their mistakes is how they learn to crawl, walk, eat, climb, write, etc. It builds resilience and encourages confidence!
So, that brings up the biggest questions of all — when should you step in and help your little one with that difficult task and when should you let them make a mistake or fail? Below are a few examples from Michigan State University of how you can help your child learn to succeed through failure!
Encourage your child to take risks and try new things. Trying new things can be scary, especially if we are worried that if we try, we will ultimately fail. Give your child encouragement to try things outside of their comfort zone, and attempt things they might not be good at right away. By taking risks and trying new things, your child can overcome their fear of failing and learn that when you take risks, you learn so many new things and practice new skills.
Emphasize your child’s efforts. Not every effort will result in success. When your child is trying to draw a unicorn for the first time, it likely won’t be a perfect picture. This may be discouraging for your child, but try focusing on emphasizing their efforts. You can talk about their work they put into the project, “You worked so hard on this drawing. You tried something new, you did your best! I’m proud of you for working so hard!” Remind your child that great things happen over time; even famous artists start with a rough draft.
Teach problem-solving skills. Failure often makes us feel stuck and can make someone feel like giving up. Teach your child that through hard work and effort, you can work to solve problems. If they are trying to learn a new skateboarding trick and they just can’t seem to pick it up, help them think about what they can do to solve their problem. Is there someone who knows that trick who can help them? Can they watch a video on YouTube that will help them figure out what they need to do differently? Help your child think about what they can do to keep working and trying.
Value hard work. Show your child that you value hard work by noticing it happen all around you. Notice those who work hard around you and in your child’s life. Point out the construction workers who are working hard in rain to repair the roads. Write a thank-you note to your mail carrier who works extra hard during the holiday season to help deliver gifts and goodies. Showing gratefulness and appreciation for those that work hard will show your child that hard work is to be valued.
Engage in self-praise. When children hear you praise yourself, they learn to do the same. Show off your hard work and that you can be proud of yourself for not giving up on tasks that are hard. When you work hard, say out loud, “I’m so proud of myself! I was having a hard time figuring out how to fix the TV, but I kept trying and I did it! Go me!”
Help your child adopt a growth mindset. Show your young child that making mistakes and failing is normal and something that happens to everyone. It means you tried something new. Failure doesn’t mean an ending—it’s just the beginning. You can teach your child to be a hardworking problem solver that can turn their failures into successes. 
Sometimes we’re quick to tell our little ones not to roughhouse. You want them to be safe and don’t want any injuries. But there is a very big difference between aggressive play and rough & tumble play. We are all about safe rough & tumble play because it has SO many developmental benefits for your little one! For example, did you know that roughhousing can make your child SMARTER? You read that right!
There are so many different kinds of Rough & Tumble play! Some will definitely surprise you!
Here are just a few:
Climbing up and jumping off
Here are 5 Benefits of Rough & Tumble Play from our Friends at Flintobox:
1. Kids learn healthy risk-taking
Let kids do the unimaginable and feel accomplished when they climb a tree or jump high. Give them freedom to try new things rather than constantly telling them about the hazards and forcing them to live in fear.
Let children assess danger and understand when to push limits and when to hold back. When kids engage in healthy risk taking, they get a better understanding of their limits and capabilities.
2. Develop physical bond.
Physical contact is an important part of close relationships, provided it evokes positive feelings. If two children or siblings want to roll over one another or piggyback on each other, it’s a great bonding exercise. Yes, provided they can balance well and not hurt each other.
Let pillow fights, pulling hair, or ticking each other be part of the growing up process. After all relationships are not just conversations, touch and playing in close contact should be encouraged. They play an important role in strengthening bonds between kids.
3. Learn emotional intelligence
It’s during rough play kids realize what fun is and what can hurt. They can judge other kids’ reactions, expressions—are they enjoying or getting hurt? Children learn to address the emotional needs of other kids, they learn when to stop and how to discover new means of adrenaline rush.
With increased emotional intelligence, children better relationships with others, can focus more in studies and other activities, and learn to regulate their emotions.
4. Exercise for mind and body
With rough play, one can reap physical benefits-build strength, exercise muscles, improve gross motor skills, increased flexibility, hand-eye coordination, and better body and emotion control.
5. It’s pure fun
How many toys can you buy and how many times children can sit in one place and play? Rough play actually is easy fun. Children do have a lot of fun in the process. There’s something exciting about free play when they can hold, push, throw themselves, etc.
As 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!
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.
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.
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!
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” 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” 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” 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” 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!