First day of school… no tears here. (well, almost)

So, Miss. Aria started pre-k last week at one of the city’s public schools. We were extremely lucky to get a lottery spot at our school of choice, and her first days were a huge success. When I applied for Universal Pre-K last winter, the thought of her going to school full time was a bit daunting. Was my little one really ready for school 5 days a week all day long???

I now am so thankful that I went ahead with the process, and that she is in school full time. She is beyond ready (amazing how much 3 year olds can change and grow in a short 6 months), and I know school is the perfect place for her to grow her curious mind. She’s always looking for a challenge and so incredibly bright, and I’m sure this will only foster her incredible love of learning, and strengthen her foundation for future success.

Not to mention, I now realize the timing of it was all perfect (thank you Universe), as our next little one is expected at the end of October. Fully pregnant, I now have a little breathing room to prepare, and am also freed up to invest just as much time and energy into him when he arrives (Mommyhood take 2!).  Although, perhaps if I planned it better, I would have waited a few more months to get pregnant, as I’m totally reveling in the leisure of having some freedom again.

first day of school

Aria couldn’t have been more excited or ready on her first day of school. Her dad and I walked her over, while she skipped ahead most of the time, all smiles and fully excited for the experience. We had prepped her, encouraging her in the weeks leading up, chatting about the new adventure and how much fun she was going to have.

Indeed she absorbed all our encouragement, seemingly having no issue entering a new place, practically waving us off before we even entered the classroom that first day. She humored me on the way to school, allowing me to take multiple pics of her in her cute little leopard print dress and red jelly shoes, but once we arrived it was quite clear she was indeed Little Miss Independent.

While other kids walked in with hesitation, she greeted the new space enthusiastically, taking hold of her name tag necklace, practically pushing us out the door (but not before I insisted on a hug and snapped one more pic.)  I was so very grateful that she embraced the separation and experience so well, albeit I was also somewhat surprise that it was SO easy for her to wave us off (whaa!)

get out of here mom and dad pre k teacher nyc

It wasn’t until her third day in (which was really her first full day), that she even shared the slightest bit of dismay in her day. While recounting the school day on our drive up to our weekend house, she informed me of all the things she had done and accomplished. She was particularly proud of her picture of the panda she had drawn, and the new songs she had learned.  It was only after I asked about “rest time” (wondering if she indeed did rest), that she shared it had been the only tough part of her day.I wasn’t super surprised since naps are usually off the table these days (and often bedtime is not embraced by my girl).

She recounted how a little girl kept “squeaking” during the quiet time, and she “just couldn’t rest!”  I wasn’t completely surprised in her annoyance as she too often tells us to “be quiet” before going to bed (sigh), but upon further probing she then chose to mention that she also “cried a little bit.”  When I asked her why she said, “because I wanted you there,” quickly adding “but, nobody saw me because I pulled my blanket over my head.”

And there it was. Her first teary moment, which, of course, lead to my first teary moment. Choked up and eyes brimming as I drove up the West Side Highway, I realized that my girl wasn’t all independent after all. My heart ached a little bit, thinking about her alone and teary eyed under her soft orange blanket. I then replied how that was OK to feel sad, reminding her how new things can be hard and how sometimes we all need a little cry.

Then without missing a beat, she replied happily, “but then rest time ended and I got to play on the playground!” And that was the end of that.  After all, in the end, I guess the playground trumps all.

mommy and me

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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!)

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Great NYC Classes & Programs For Toddlers (that won’t break the bank)

So, it’s FREEZING here in NYC again, and that means no braving it on the playground (although we’ve been known to do it when no other kids would dare!) Having the temps drop, means having to figure out indoor spots to entertain the littles. Here are a few of my neighborhood favorites (& ways to save when visiting).

childrens museum art nyc

CMA– The Children’s Museum of Art offers classes and activities for children of all ages. Toddlers can paint, color, play in their bouncy ball gym and enjoy creative art exhibits.  Thursday afternoons are “pay as you wish” and a perfect opportunity to visit and check out the offerings.

Karma Kids Yoga: I LOVE my yoga and Karma Kids has the most offerings for the little ones. With two studios centrally located not far from Union Square, they offer kids yoga and dance classes, mommy & me and pre-natal classes, and fun events and themed classes  like Shark Yoga  and Pajama Glow-In-The-Dark Yoga.  They also have a great FREE story time twice a week and discounted community classes. 

Integral Yoga: Another great yoga class for kids. Instructor Lakshmi Pidel takes toddlers (and moms) through simple poses using singing, music and props to enliven the experience. Classes are 45 minutes and just under $20. You can also try it out for FREE (first timers only), and the studio is included in my favorite yogi money saving resource, the Yoga Passbook, so you can access two more classes using that.

NY Public Library: The NYPL offers a variety of toddler and baby classes and story times. The Hudson Park branch used to be our go-to (they had a great big play area with lots of toys), but they  are closed for renovations until spring (hmgh) so we’ve been heading over to Jefferson Market for story time which is a fun hour of stories and crafts. Libraries throughout the city are a great FREE resource and programs are offered throughout the year.

YMCA: I wish I had known all the great stuff the Y offers sooner! They have programs for kids– from swim to dance to pre-school prep classes, all at a very competitive price– in fact cheaper than anywhere else around the city. You can sign up for classes alone (most require commitment for a term), or join as a member and take advantage of the gym, pool and other amenities. My local Y is super nice with state of the art work out equipment, group fitness classes and (most importantly) Child Watch services that allow parents to drop off their little ones to be watched while they work out…for free.

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.