written by Jen #supermom
Spring is ALMOST here….on March 20th we will officially be able to say Winter is over (now let’s hope the weather follows that sentiment)! There is so much going on here in Brooklyn during the month of March. Here are some family activities, from live music, an interactive museum exhibit, ice skating to origami…a little something for everyone. And for all of the carousel-lovers out there, the Prospect Park Carousel reopens on March 24th!
* Miss Nina & the Jumping Jacks (Brooklyn Central Library, Dweck Center): “Every Day’s Your Birthday” is the title track of Miss Nina & the Jumping Jacks soon-to-be-released new album and the motto of the band! Come on out and celebrate with some high energy, family fun music (pop, rock, hip-hop) that all ages will love to clap, sing, jump and dance along too. March 5th, 1-2pm. http://www.bklynlibrary.org/calendar/events-youth-families-mis-central-library-dweck-cen-030516
* First Sunday Family and Kids Events at Brooklyn Gardens (March 6th):
-Origami Academy (Lillian and Amy Goldman Atrium): Join the paper-folding pros and learn how to craft tiny animals and flowers! Classes begin every half hour. Let by Taro’s Origami Studio. 10am-12pm. Ages 7+. http://www.bbg.org/visit/event/origami_academy_animals_flowers
– Lego Cherry Esplanade (Lillian and Amy Goldman Atrium): Use Lego blocks to build BBG’s renowned Cherry Esplanade in miniature form. Led by Eleanor Rodgers, Kensington Lego Class. 10am-12pm. Ages 4+. http://www.bbg.org/visit/event/lego_cherry_esplanade
– Fold a Fire Truck (Japanese Craft House): Make your own ori-model paper truck. Led by Taro’s Origami Studio. Ages 5+. http://www.bbg.org/visit/event/fold_a_fire_truck
– Japanese Bamboo Insect Hotel (Japanese Craft House): Build lodging for your tiny buggy guests! Ages 5+. http://www.bbg.org/visit/event/japanese_bamboo_insect_hotel
* “Our City” Exhibit (Brooklyn Children’s Museum): This is a new interactive exhibit where children take on roles of urban planners, artists, architects and visionaries as they talk about places they call home. It challenges visitors to consider what i means to be a neighborhood and what makes a neighborhood. Who do you greet when you step outside or walk down the street? What are the characteristics of a happy and healthy neighborhood? On view March 10th – September 4th. http://www.brooklynkids.org/exhibits
* Cinderella (BAM, Fisher Fishman Space): Solo performer Shona Reppe presents a witty interpretation of the classic fable. Set on an inventive tabletop stage, this production uses puppetry, secret hatches, hidden doors and a handbag full of magic to tell Cinderella’s story. This show engages young audience’s imagination, inviting them to complete the story for a truly dramatic experience. March 12th-13th (see link for specific times). Duration: 45 min, $15 per ticket. Ages 5-7. http://www.bam.org/kids/2016/cinderella
* Lakeside Spring Ice Spectacular (Lefrak Center at Lakeside, Prospect Park): Show everyone what you’ve gont in the spring figure skating show, featuring solos, duets, and group numbers! Group number registration includes three half hour rehearsals on Saturdays before the show as well as skate rental, show accessories and keepsake programs on the performance day. March 12th, 4-6:30pm. $40 for one event, $60 for 2. Admission is free to attend, $5 for a chair rental. Contact Lefrak to reserve a spot! http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/events/lakeside-spring-ice-spectacular/
* Alice in Wonderland (Puppetworks): Lewis Carroll’s English adventure with an original song score! Suggested for ages 3+. Running through April 24th on Saturdays and Sundays, 12:30 and 2:30pm. Child: $9, Adult: $10. http://www.puppetworks.org/
* Babywild: A Spellbound Production (Old Stone House, JJB Byrne): What does the world look like through the eyes of a baby? In this playful performance for the youngest audiences, a regular-seeming home is transformed into a magical world of surprising discoveries. Babies, toddlers, and their caregivers touch – climb and explore along with the performers and puppets who bring this gentle story to life. March 5th, 6th, 19th and 20th at 10am and 11:15am. Single child family ticket – $30, Multiple child family ticket – $40. Tickets available online. For babies 6-8 months. Duration: 45 min. http://achildgrows.com/thecalendar/babywild-spellbound-production-old-stone-house/2016-03-19/
* Story Time (Powerhouse, 1111 8th Ave in Park Slope): Every Sunday morning from 11:30am – 12:30pm, there is story time for all tiny eyes and ears. 2 or 3 excellent stories will be told! Free, for ages 2-6. http://powerhouseon8th.com/
Posted on February 29th, 2016
Posted by Jen Valu
written by Jen #supermom
Vered Benhorin is a music therapist, musician, psychotherapist and mom, whose album for parents and babies “Good Morning My Love” won the Parents Choice Gold Award, the National Parenting Publications Gold Award and Baby Album of the Year Award by Creative Child Magazine. Vered teaches parents how to form closer bonds with their babies through music, including certain soothing techniques and establishing a routine through song. We are super excited to announce that South Slope Pediatrics will be holding a free class with Vered on March 2nd for babies 0-3 months (keep a look out for the invitation via email)!
SSP: Can you please tell us a little about yourself, and how you became involved in music therapy?
Well, a long time ago I started out with plans to be a rock star 🙂 or at least a singer/songwriter who is able to live off the music. I recorded a few albums and performed with a band. But alongside my nighttime music career I also always worked with kids helping them write original songs. The more I did it I was struck by the therapeutic affect it had on the kids. They sang and wrote about issues that were hard for them and the music helped them release some of those emotions. After realizing I had been doing music therapy for a while I decided to go back to school and gather more knowledge and techniques.
SSP: How does someone “tune in” to his or her baby, and how does a baby understand and respond to the music?
Tuning in to your baby has to do with noticing their cues and their rhythms. Parents intuitively do this all the time without noticing. They react to a raised eyebrow showing aversion, or a smile showing liking, or subtleties in their babies’ whining. Tuning in also has to do with being emotionally present and reading the baby’s emotions. Again, parents often do this – when they soothe a crying baby, when they sing to a smiling baby. It has to do with trying to understand where the baby is coming from. In psychology it is called mentalization – interpreting behavior in terms of underlying emotions, desires, beliefs. This sounds simple but when we have a lot going on in our own emotional world this can be increasingly challenging. And parents always have a lot going on.
Babies respond to music in vitro and beyond. There have been numerous studies showing that babies listen to and remember music from early on. After birth babies can sometimes hear differences in rhythms and melodies from different cultures that adults cannot because adults have desensitized to music from cultures other than their own. For all of us, grown ups and babies, music releases endorphins that relax the body and make us feel soothed and happier.
SSP: What do you see as the most important benefits of using song and music in daily interaction with our babies?
There are so many. First of all, it helps us establish that ever-illusive routine. For instance, if a parent sings the same lullaby every night during the bedtime routine, by the time the baby is 7 or 8 months she will be rubbing her eyes at the sound of it. It also soothes the baby through that transition by relaxing his body and preparing him for sleep. Music also is a great way to engage with the baby fully. Listening to music and singing can bring up emotions. It is a direct route to our feelings that bypasses intellect. When we sing to and listen to music with our babies we are that much more present emotionally and are able to tune in to our babies. Our baby feels that and it is a feedback loop – our baby enjoys that time and smiles at us, we continue to sing and smile back, etc. It is not easy to be present with our babies all the time. We have a lot going on and often multitask. Music helps us organize our day and feel more connected with our babies. And that feels more gratifying for both the parent and the baby. Music can also help the baby develop language as the baby becomes acquainted with different rhythm patterns that will show up in speech. Repetitive melodies also help our babies remember sounds and experiment with them. This aids them in learning their first words and developing a vocabulary.
SSP: What kind of benefits do you see for the parents?
Any parent who has more than one kid knows how fast this time passes. If we can create moments of deep connection we feel more gratified. But the benefits of the music are the same for the parent – it soothes them, makes them happier and helps to release emotions.
SSP: We often think about attending these kinds of classes for our first born, but isn’t it equally important to consider for a 2nd (or 3rd, etc)?
Actually often it is the second or third time moms who appreciate my classes the most. For them it is so valuable to have an hour a week where they are focusing on their baby fully. Those parents might have a whole repertoire of music that they do with their older child but they don’t have time to start to build a new one with their younger. The class reminds them to take a moment, slow down, connect, sing a song together, and become acquainted with the rhythm of the new baby.
SSP: What ages do you focus on, and why?
My classes focus on 0-24 months. The reason is that my class is more for the caregiver than for the baby. They are about providing tools for the caregiver that they will use with their baby at home. Hopefully it is also a place where the caregiver will feel supported emotionally through discussion and song. Classes that are built for older toddlers can feel loud and overwhelming, for the baby and the parent.
SSP: Where do you hold your music therapy classes, and how does one take part in this?
Normally they are held at someone’s home. A parent will contact me and ask to host and organize a group. The host gets the group for free. Usually all it takes is putting the word out on their Park Slope Parents or other neighborhood email group. My current groups are on my website at www.babyintune.com/workshop. They are open to anyone who would like to join.
SSP: Where can someone listen to and purchase your CD “Good Morning My Love”?
Both of my CDs can be listened to and purchased on my website at www.babyintune.com.
SSP: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about what you do and the importance of music in our lives?
I wonder if people might read this and feel uncomfortable – they may not like to sing, or feel insecure about their voice or musicality, they may feel like they haven’t found music with their baby that feels right. If so they are like everyone else. We ALL have insecurities when it comes to singing. It can feel very vulnerable and emotional. We talk about that a lot in my groups. My goal is to help parents feel more confident through learning how to use your breath, learning what tones to use, and just feeling comfortable with being goofy and not necessarily sounding “good”.
Posted on February 17th, 2016
Posted by Jen Valu
written by Jen #supermom
Back in September we interviewed Denise Clay, a mother of 2 little boys and a patient of Dr. Cao’s. Denise is the co-founder of www.skipkid.com, a site that helps parents and caregivers find local activities for their little ones. As I know personally, the struggle is REAL….it’s not easy searching for and finding things to do with your child that are both up-to-date and local to your neighborhood in Brooklyn. Denise and co-founder Callie (another patient of Dr. Cao’s) have created this resource to eliminate the frustration and help foster fun activity-filled days, especially necessary during these chilly winter months! We thought we’d check back in with Denise as there have been several new exciting updates and improvements to the site since our last talk.
SSP: Denise, can you please tell us a little about SkipKid again and why this is such a useful website for Brooklyn parents?
SkipKid is a mobile website that features a complete, up-to-date listing of all drop-in activities in Brooklyn, sortable by neighborhood. It’s free to use and to subscribe.
When our children were a few months old, we began looking for activities for the kids and quickly realized that there was no reliable, comprehensive resource for drop-in activities in our neighborhood. Scheduling activities between naps and mealtimes can be a challenge, and we imagined other parents and caregivers felt the same way. So we started SkipKid.
We tried to make the site as user friendly as possible. SkipKid works on any computer or mobile device. Simply select your neighborhood from the drop-down menu to find a complete list of daily drop-in activities. We encourage users to subscribe for weekly emails featuring special weekday and weekend events as well.
SSP: What kind of activities and classes do you list on SkipKid?
There’s a huge range of classes on SkipKid, everything from art and music classes to movement and cooking classes. We also feature post-natal classes and groups for new parents (breastfeeding support, mommy/baby exercise classes, new parents support, etc).
SSP: How is SkipKid unique?
Many sites say they focus on local events, but we actually mean it! As all new parents and caregivers well know, little ones require a lot of scheduling, and optimizing the windows of time among naps, feedings, etc, requires careful planning. SkipKid helps parents and caregivers find activities that are walkable or within their own neighborhoods, which is different from existing sites that tend to list activities by borough. Moreover, we aim to have a complete list of activities–not simply events at the big-name venues like the Brooklyn Zoo and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, but the tiny neighborhood venues with sing-alongs and puppet shows. We want to build community by bringing people together at their own neighborhood shops.
SSP: I understand you¹ve added new features to the site since the last time we spoke. What are these updates?
One thing that we’re really excited about is that we’ve started to send out a couple of emails a week to our subscribers featuring mid-week and weekend family activities.
SSP: Does SkipKid currently have pages on social media, and what can we find there?
Yes, we’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We update all our social media regularly.
SSP: What’s next for SkipKid? Are you looking to expand into other boroughs of NYC?
We launched SkipKid in September and have grown to have more than a thousand monthly users. We are looking to expand our reach in all the neighborhoods we cover, and we expect to move into Manhattan, too.
SSP: Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
We want to hear from you! If you have feedback for the site or an event you’d like featured let us know.
These winter months can be super challenging with babies and toddlers. Rather than succumbing to cabin fever and too much screen time, get out there and see all that Brooklyn has to offer. There are countless daily activities in our neighborhood of Park Slope, always a reason to get out and about – no matter how cold or drab a day! Thankfully we now have SkipKid to help us navigate all of these options, and plan fun-filled days with our precious children!
Posted on February 1st, 2016
Posted by Jen Valu