The month of February is all about Bonding and Connection here at Gymboree Play & Music. In celebration of Make a Friend Day (February 11), we have compiled a few fun friend facts on why it’s important for your little one to bond with others at an early age.
Friends help us learn Friendship contributes to the development of social skills. These connections made with other children give and receive emotional support. It can provide an opportunity for your little one to learn problem-solving skills, develop empathy, and learn to play cooperatively.
Baby’s first friend Parents and teachers lay the groundwork for future friendships. Little actions such as imitating facial expressions with your little one is a great way to introduce engaging them with person to person interactions.
Routines build strong bonds A routine gives your child a sense of security and helps them develop self-discipline. When there are opportunities to connect with other children through weekly play dates and attending Gymboree Play & Music classes, your little one is more likely to cooperate and will begin to look forward to these activities.
The power of waiting Conflict skills are developed at an early age through interactions with siblings and other children. It’s is challenging not to intervene when we see our little ones struggling or experiencing emotional outbursts. Interventions can prevent children from learning to resolve conflict for themselves. Take a moment before moving in and allow your little one to resolve the problem in their own way.
The month of February is all about Bonding and Connection!
Reading with your little one is a simple way to not only improve their communication skills, but it also stimulates patterns of brain development responsible for bonding and connecting. Our expert programming team has complied their top book recommendations that portray connecting to family, friends, community, and everyone in between!
Come bond with us in February with these fun reads!
Guess How Much I Love You By Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram
This beloved classic lets children “love you right up to the moon and back!” Follow Little Nut Brown Hare and his Dad as they playfully vie to express their love for one another.
Love Makes a Family By Sophie Beer
Love is waking up bright and early. Love is lending a helping hand. Whether a child has two dads, two moms, or one of each, this book helps teach us that what’s most important in a family’s life is the love shared between family members.
A Friend Like You By Andrea Schomburg, Barbara Rottgen & Sean Juilan
Squirrel and bird are very different, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. They’re both willing to try something new! They discover that their small differences won’t stand in the way of their newfound friendship but will help them discover new things about themselves.
Friendship is Like a Seesaw By Shonna Innes & Irisz Agocs
Friendships have their ups and downs, just like a seesaw. This story offers a gentle approach to the emotional issues children face while dealing with friendships and their peers. In the end, it’s all about finding the right balance.
I Would Tuck You In By Sarah Asper-Smith & Mitchell Watley
This sweet bedtime book is filled with baby animals and their mommies. An otter tucks her little one into a kelp forest bed. A humpback whale sings a song to soothe her calf. Learn all about the different ways animal mothers show love to their babies, while spending some quality time with your little one.
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!
This month is all about reaching milestones at Gymboree Play & Music!
It’s a new year with new milestones for our little ones! That’s why our January theme is REACHING MILESTONES! Encouraging exploration, self-expression, and play is essential in early development and reaching important milestones. Our expert programming team compiled their top book recommendations that teach the importance of overcoming obstacles, believing in oneself, and celebrating small achievements.
Reach for the stars in January with the below fun reads!
How to Catch a Star By Oliver Jeffers
There once was a boy who loved stars. He decided to catch one… but how? He tried many different methods, but to no avail. Just as the boy is about to give up, he discovers that sometimes things aren’t where, or what, we expect them to be.
The Dot By Peter H. Reynolds
Vashti does not believe she can draw. One day, her art teacher tells her to “just make a mark and see where it takes you,” so she angrily jabs at her paper, leaving a small dot. This little dot would mark the beginning of Vashti’s creative journey of self-expression.
Because By Mo Willems & Amber Ren
Because sometimes the smallest moments can have the biggest influence. Number one New York Times best-selling author Mo Willems weaves a tale of inspiration, perseverance, creativity and accomplishment as we follow a young girl’s journey to become a musician and share her compositions with the world.
The Little Engine That Could By Watty Piper
Go vintage with this classic American folk tale, which became widely popular in the U.S. after publication in 1930 by Platt & Munk. You may remember this story from your own childhood! Follow a small yet determined engine as she completes a big job. This story teaches children the importance of hard work and a positive outlook.
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do By Ashley Spires
Lou and her friends are BRAVE adventurers. They run FASTER than airplanes. They build MIGHTY fortresses. They rescue WILD animals. But one day, Lou’s friends want to do something Lou just knows she cannot do: climb a tree. She tries to convince her friends to play somewhere else; She makes excuses; She decides she doesn’t even want to climb the tree… but maybe she is just afraid? By first admitting, then facing her fears, Lou learns that the most important thing is just to try.
‘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.
December is all about the power of building community here at Gymboree Play & Music. For children, community involvement and engagement produces long-term benefits that provide a sense of belonging and is crucial to their early childhood identity.
This month’s book recommendations inspire the importance of strengthening community bonds and developing relationships between your littles, family, and teachers.
Maybe Something Beautiful By F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell
Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, “Maybe Something Beautiful” shows how people living in a gray city bring a little color into their world. Citizens come together to create a work of art more beautiful than they could have ever imagined on their own, and it all starts with one little artist!
What a Wonderful World By Bob Thiele, George David Weiss & Tim Hopgood. As sung by Louis Armstrong
“And I think to myself, ‘What a wonderful world!” There is so much beauty to behold in the world around us. This brightly illustrated book adopts Louis Armstrong’s famous song lyrics to promote love for your community and your “world.”
The Secret Sky Garden By Linda Sarah & Fiona Lumbers
Funni loves spending time at the old car park playing her recorder and flying her kite…. but something is missing. So Funni decides to create a garden in the space. A little boy sees her garden out the window of an airplane and decides to try and find it. As Funni’s flowers bloom, a special friendship blossoms too.
All Are Welcome By Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman
Read all about a school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. These students grow and learn from each other’s cultural traditions, and the whole community comes together to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Rabbit’s Gift By George Shannon & Laura Dronzek
Winter is here and the snow will be falling soon. Luckily, Rabbit finds a turnip… and another one! Does Rabbit hide his extra turnip away for the long winter? Not Rabbit. He decides to share his turnip amongst his forest friends, setting off a heartwarming wave of generosity.
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.
Treat your children to a new family tradition that is both fun and educational. Have kids create “thankful notes” by drawing a small picture of what they are thankful for. Older kids can use a word or two in addition to drawings.
It will be fun for kids to create their own little drawings and kids of all ages can participate! Have kids create a “Thankful Note” for 3 or 4 days in November.
Put all of the notes in a jar marked “Thankful Jar”, you can even have the kids decorate it.
On Thanksgiving Day pull the notes out of the jar and share with the whole family!
November to Gymboree Play & Music means giving thanks, giving back and being kind. And, in honor of World Kindness Day, we are celebrating KINDNESS all month long! Our expert programming team compiled their top book recommendations to teach about the joys and importance of spreading a little kindness!
Thank You, Omu! By Oge Mora
Omu is preparing a thick red stew that smells so delicious, everyone in town wants a bowl! This heartwarming story about sharing and community was chosen for this year’s “Read for the Record” campaign by Jumpstart, in which millions of children and adults are brought together to read in classrooms, libraries, community centers, and homes across the world.
Last Stop on Market Street By Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson
Every Sunday after church, CJ takes the bus with his grandma through town. With Grandma’s help, CJ learns that you can find beauty and value in everything around you.
Stick and Stone By Oge Mora
Meet Stick and Stone. They stick up for each other ‘cause friends rock! This pair become fast friends when Stick rescues Stone from a mean pinecone. Can Stone return the favor when Stick gets stuck in the mud?
Do Unto Otters By Laurie Keller
We all know the saying, “Do unto otters as you would have them do unto you.” This playful book lists some different ways otters (and other animals) can be kind to one another.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed By Emily Pearson
Can one little girl’s kindness change the world? It was an ordinary day for Mary when she came upon a bush growing blueberries. When she decides to pick them for her neighbor, it sets off a chain reaction that multiplies around the world!
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.