Hidden Gem: MAP Program At Greenwich Music House (the perfect pre-school option)

greenwhich music house MAPThe school days are almost upon us! NYC Public schools start next week, and while Aria is super excited about going to school, she also insists she wants to go back to her old school “with Miss. Lyra and Emy”.

Last year Aria attended the MAP (Music, Art & Play) at Greenwich Music house in the West Village. We had done the whole Nursery School application routine (alright, only really one place), but in the end decided on Greenwich Music House. In retrospect, I think it was one of the best things we could have done for her, and the program is definitely a hidden gem for west village parents.

Greenwich Music house offers a variety of programs for all ages, but the MAP program is perfect for 3 year olds, providing just what they need at that age. Art, music and play suits their age perfectly, stimulating their senses and creativity, but not overwhelming them (and it’s FUN — social skills develop too!).

We got a great variety of daily art projects sent home, seeing Aria’s creativity bloom (and I’m convinced today she’s such a good drawer in part because of this). We also saw our little one grasp onto music, finding confidence in her voice and embracing all different kinds of instruments and her own musicality.

The building is a charming brownstone, a warm loving environment that is safe and contained, and also boasts a sweet outdoor garden for them to play. Many a day, Aria did not want to leave after wrapping up with the daily, “It’s time to go now,” Goodbye Song.

MAP program greenwich music house nyc pre kLearning also extended beyond the brick and mortar of the school. The kids had a variety of field trips and outings, serving the community with a holiday sing-along at a local senior center, and taking advantage of the cultural playground that is NYC (see photo from a Very Young People’s concert at Merkin Hall).

Finally, and most importantly, the teachers are WONDERFUL. I can’t say enough good things about their care, which definitely eases an anxious parent who may be leaving their child in another’s care for the first time. Both Ms. Lyra and Ms. Emy are extremely capable, loving and caring, and very communicative with parents– providing email newsletters on what the little ones are up to, and always being open and welcoming to all.

The program is offered half days (mornings) for up to 5 days a week. We loved the flexibility of it, not having to commit to 5 days, but setting up times that worked with our lifestyle and our child. That being said, if you’re a NYC mom or dad of a toddler who’s looking for a GREAT nursery option this fall, check out Greenwich Music House. I promise you won’t be disappointed (except when it’s time to go!)

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This Weekend: MAYfest– Music, Art & Yoga for the whole family.

So, this weekend I’ll be teaching at Mayfest, the Hudson Valley’s first Music, Art & Yoga Festival. I’ll be teaching a Vinyasa class on Saturday at 11am called Finding Your Flow, for all of you out there who want to find your flow (both on and off the mat). I’m excited to be a part of such fun weekend event, and to be teaching alongside some renowned teachers like Sadie Nardini and Justin Wolfer.

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The weekend will basically be like going back to camp (for all ages). The lineup includes great bands, stellar yoga classes, nature hikes, paddle board yoga, a wellness village and so much more– all in a beautiful lakeside location that is just over an hour from NYC.

The best part is it’s totally a family affair. Bring the kids along because Mayfest is also offering a “Kids Canteen” with plenty of offerings for the little ones including story time, yoga, sports, and even nature writing. Plus (best, best part), childcare is available so that mom and dad can totally take advantage of all the adult fun stuff going on.

For more information or to get tickets go to www.MAYfestNY.com. Hope to see you there!

Road Trip: 7 Essentials For Baby In The Car

car ride essentials toddlerSo, riding in the car with baby/toddler is not always the easiest of experiences. Unlike a lot of NYC dwellers, we actually are in the car quite often.  Our recent road trip to Saratoga (a 3+hour ride) made me realize some things that were downright essential!

1) The Perfect Car Seat:  Ok, so there may not be a perfect seat, but some are better than others. For our infant car seat, I went with the Graco Snug Ride. It is safe, lightweight, versatile (fits in the snap and go travel system which is key for travel) and has an adjustable shade (essential). I didn’t like it’s infant insert, and definitely recommend buying one like this to keep baby snug and comfortable. When it was time, we also bought Aria a convertible (front facing) seat. She actually has a couple different ones but by far her favorite is the Britax she has in Oma’s car. It’s extra cushy and she sits higher which allows her to see out the window better.

2) Window shades: I can’t tell you how essential these are to keep the sun out of the baby’s eyes and off baby’s face. UV rays can still filter through window so these shades protect and keep your baby comfortable. I first bought the White Hot Safety Shade by Munchkin, but they totally don’t stick well or cover as much window area as my second (and much better) purchase by Safety1st. 

3) A Mirror (when still rear facing): A mirror allows you to look into your rear view and see you little one’s face. Some argue it can be a distraction, but I think a quick glance is much better than trying to bend behind the seat to check in on baby.

4) Tunes: Baby’s love music. One mom friend gave me a baby’s CD as a gift and said it’s “like crack”, meaning her baby was totally addicted and instantly gratified.  Aria too chills out when her tunes get on (not to mention now she asks for “Muffin Man” the second she gets in the car). My mom gave me CD of baby songs early on and I was like, “hells no, we’re not listening to that all trip,” but that quickly changed when I realized Hickory, Dickory, Dock is much better than a screaming baby.

5) Entertainment: Small books, stuffed animals and even soft little dangling toys for infants do make a difference. Now that Aria’s a toddler (and obsessed with Barney) I’ve also been guilty of passing back the iPhone when super desperate for a peaceful ride.

6) Snacks:  Again, some people would say this was a big no no (choking hazards), but, if you choose the right snacks (bottles, pureed fruit pouches, puffs that dissolve in their mouth, etc), I can attest that it makes for a much easier time.

7) Pacifier:  Again, a “love em or hate em” for many parents.  For us they’re  a lifesaver quite often (and I’ve cursed myself the times I’ve realized I’ve left the house without one). Aria def prefers Avent.

A Play Day: No Devices Required

What was supposed to be a beach day for us, is starting out as a rainy morning. So, Aria and I are exploring play time. I’m encouraging INDEPENDENT play, which results in Aria seeing how many animals she can pile up on the play Ikea couch or simply sitting on it herself for a laugh (better than pulling all my credit cards out of my wallet- her usual game of choice).play day

I was chatting with a mom the other day who sends her kids to a Waldorf School which does not allow any student to watch TV (ever) in order to foster imagination, creativity and play. Since the first words out of Aria’s mouth each morning are “Barney” (we’re working on “good morning”), I’m not so sure this will work for us.

It is an issue worth exploring though. In the age of youtube, ipads and kindles with endless apps for little ones and the programming that goes far beyond sesame street, are we are actually taking away from our kids by exposing them to so much?

Aria’s dad sent me this article a while back. It’s worth reading.

Clouds are breaking… time for the beach, or at very least River Tots.