Monday, May 3, 2010

Tompkins Square Playground

Gaia, Astrid, Mia and I ventured out to the new Tompkins Square Playground located on Avenue A and 7th Street. In 1995, Tompkins Square Park was known for harboring artists and teens who inspired the movie "KIDS". Today, Tompkins Square Park is overrun by toddlers, tweens, moms, dads, nannies and grandparents! Designed by Parks Department architect Gail Wittwer-Laird, the $1.1 million renovation has outfitted the playground with state-of-the-art jungle-gym structures and a distinctly modern sensibility. I highly recommend Tompkins Square Playground for parents who have friends without kids and need a spot to hang out with the little one while having some adult time. You won't lose any cool points going to this LES playground.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Daddy Day Care

Daddy's Day Care is located at 256 6th Avenue in Park Slope. Have any parents visited this Day Care. What are your thoughts on the Day Care? I am an early childhood educator and after taking a tour, I have my thoughts.

Here is the experience I had- I made an appointment for a tour yesterday. My mother found "Daddy Day Care" advertising their facility on Craigslist. I wrote "Daddy Day Care" an e-mail asking a few questions. I asked if they were NAEYC accredited. (They are not) I asked if they would help "potty" train. (Yes they do) As well other questions. I was happy my questions were answered because other day cares weren't as forthcoming with personal e-mails. (Beth Elohim Early Childhood Education Center replied with personal e-mails) I visited "Daddy's Day Care" yesterday. "Daddy's Day Care" is located in a basement apartment of a brownstone apartment building. When I rang the bell, I was greeted by a muscular man in a sweat suit and socks. The entire floor thru is dedicated to the day care. The walls were painted from top to bottom with rainbows, suns, puzzle pieces, etc. There were about 500 toys in the room. Lots of them still in the packaging. It looked like a toy store. (Lulu's or Little Things) Victor is the "Daddy" Victor is the manager of the PC Richard on Kings HIghway and says he wants to eventually do "Daddy's Day Care" full time. He said he has educational background and no background in education. His assistant was taking care of a 6 1/2 month old. I asked her is she smoked cigarettes because she smelled of smoke. She looked at Victor and them answered "no". There was only one 3-year-old boy in the day care. Victor said that the other children are "pending" because of immunizations. I asked Victor if the people he hires are certified and he said, "They aren't supposed to be." Victor said he is hiring yoga teachers/music teachers etc. Victor charges $14/per hour if your child attends part time and $10/hour for full time.

I want to give my observations and let people make their own judgement. However, In my OWN opinion, The rooms is overloaded with toys and overstimulating for any child. The toys are plastic and battery filled. (My daughter has plastic toys but I expect more from a day care I put money into) The owner isn't into education. There is no curriculum just a daily schedule. I would NEVER send my daughter to a day care just because the room is colorful and filled with toys. I'm not impressed. A day care that is appropriate for any child is NAEYC accredited, utilizes Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP), requires shoes to be taken off upon entering. (Victor let us walk all over the rugs with our muddy shoes.), wooden toys, wooden floors (Somewhere in the facility so children can bang away with wooden blocks), music... etc. IMHO, "Daddy's Day Care" is a business started to make money with no clue how to work with children. Victor has a 4-year-old son that goes do a DIFFERENT Day Care in Bay Ridge. I understand that his son probably has his own friends and doesn't want to leave them but if "Daddy Day Care" is so great, then Victor's son AND his friends would make the trek to Park Slope for the better Day Care. I am a seasoned early childhood educator and children's illustrator and would highly recommend a day care that meets basic standards. "Daddy Day Care" is a "Daddy Don't Care." The first red flag was the flyer which has Looney Toon characters on it. Please.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

83rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Michael Estes eloquently wrote, "We definitely had the metropolitan Thanksgiving of our dreams" Originally from Kentucky, Rachel, Michael and Sonia joined me, Joe and Gaia Rose for the 83rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was 57 degrees. Michael arrived at 42nd street and 6th Avenue at 6:45 am. He had a great spot on the corner but was forced to move by the police. My husband Joe met up with him around 7:20 am. They sat on lawn chairs that we bought exclusively for the event. At 8:15 Rachel and Sonia arrived. I straggled into the city at around 8:50 am. The parade was better than last year. The girls looked up, down and all around. The peak for me was the Sesame Street float and asking all the b-list celebrities, "Where do I know you from?" Rachel is doing a fellowship on Holistic integrative medicine which means they will head home in a few months. As a native New Yorker, I usually steer clear of modern day gypsies but I can't resist getting to know this sweet family.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Music Para Mi

Gaia and I went to "Music Para Mi" at Nairobi's Knapsack. We were the first
to arrive. Angelique, the Music Para Mi teacher was next to arrive. She said
hello/hola to Gaia. Angelique told Jessica, the Nairobi's Knapsack employee
that she needed to set up. Jessica and Angelique went to the storage closet
and took out a large rug. Angelique unrolled the rug and said, "Do you have
a vacuum for this rug?" With five minutes until the class began, the rug
could not be vacuumed. We sat in a circle. A mom pointed out a few crusty
spots on the rug.

By the time the class started it was packed. Angelique did a roll call
and found that about moms didn't pre-register. She added their names to
the list anyway. The class was so crowded that Angelique stepped on my daughter.
My daughter cried. Music Para Mi used the stereo provided my Nairobi's Knapsack.
The quality of the sound system was poor.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dance Wave "Toddler Time"

Gaia and I went back to Dance Wave to try "Toddler Time". "Toddler Time" is a class for 12-20 month olds. (Dance Waves's Busy Babies is for 9-12 months).

The director of Dance Waves recognized me from the Busy Babies class and she asked me if I liked it. I said, "The yoga mats aren't enought cushion for babies 9-12 months and since my daughter is a crawler, circle time for her wouldn't be in a circle until she learns what a circle is." I told her that I was looking forward to trying "Toddler Time".

"Toddler Time" is taught by Juli Greenberg. The class began with writing and handing out name tags to the parents and children. One toddler fell asleep in its stroller. Juli told the mom to park her baby in the corner. The mom put the baby in the corner next to the stereo and giant speakers.

Juli placed colorful plastic circles on the wooden floor for the parents to sit on with their babies/toddlers. The babies/toddlers liked to pick up the circles and put them in thier mouth. Juli walked over the the stereo and turned on the the music. The volume level was unfortunately set very high. The mother of the sleeping baby ran to her sleeping child in the stroller and strolled him to the other side of the room. The baby didn't wake up at all!

Juli sang a few songs. Some of the songs were familiar. Juli sang "Shake Your Sillies Out" by The Wiggles. Juli had the parents walk the babies/toddlers in a circle until I broke a sweat. She was into parents moving as much as the babies/toddlers. As the mother's/caregivers danced around the room, some babies pointed to the toys on the shelf and wanted to play with them. A baby was so eager to play with a toy that she found a pair of shoes and played with those until her mother put them high up on the shelf. Juli read a story about a frog and played with a puppet frog and the children liked that. The children walked up to Juli and pointed to the pictures in the book. One toddler knocked over a baby and the baby hit the back of head on the wooden floor. The mother of the toddler did not say sorry and whispered to her friend, "She barely touched her."

Toward the end of the story, some children were tackling each other and one girl spun around and fell hard on the wooden floor. Juli told the parents that children shouldn't wear socks while in class.

The class ended with a get-to-know-you session. The parents introduced themselves. Juli ended the class by saying that this was her first time working child this age group (12-20 months) and that would be a learning experience for her.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dance Wave Busy Babies

Gaia and I stayed local and strolled to @Dancewave located @45 4th Avenue, Brooklyn.

When we walk into the studio there were a few yoga mats layed out on the wooden floor with plastic toys on the yoga mats. Gaby starts the class by writing out and giving us name tags.

Gaby tells us that the children will have 20 minuntes of "free play" The children played with various plastic toys. Gaby talks to parents and lets the free play go on for 30 minutes.

After "free play" we said good-bye to all the toys and sat in a circle and sang nursery rhymes. Gaby took out a parachute and played peek-a-boo. Gaby sang like a grandmother would. During the sing-a-long Gaia and Bee crawled around the studio and found a push toy that was not put away. They played with that until the end of the class.

The class cost averages out to be around $18.

Here is a video clip of the class. Listen to Gaby's phone ring. She stops the class to answer it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nairobi's Knapsack Clothing Swap

I've never been to a clothing swap. My friend Annie suggested we go. Annie is the mother of Bee. (Gaia's BFF) Check out her blog.

At home, it was hard to decide which of Gaiai's clothes to give away. I took a deep breath and stuff two giant bags of her clothes without thinking twice. I kept her first Christmas dress and her Petite Bateau velour suits.

I had low expectations for the swap. What parents with taste, style and a "green" sense of conscienceness are going to schlep all they way Franklin Avenue to donate clothes for my daughter to romp around the Tot Lot in?

I arrived at Nairobi's Knapsack's one hour late because we were at a "Kids at Work" trail class at the Village Pre-School. If I got one or two decent items I'd be happy. Atleast I got rid of clothes she'll never wear again.

Nairobi's Knapsack was packed with parents and kids. The clothes was seperated by size and was decent. I didn't find any designer clothes like I find at Park Slope stoop sales but I found barely used Circo shirts, Children's Place leggings, Old Navy Sneakers and two Melissa and Doug puzzles. SCORE!

We enjoyed the refreshments. The co-sponser of the event was gogreenbabygo. gogreenbabygo is a Brooklyn based company devoted to whole organic living. They sell unique sweat shop free organic t-shirts.

They had gourmet red velver cupcakes by BcakeNY I ate 3 too many. Lily and Fig donated pecan cookies and no nut brownies. (So that the kids can enjoy them) The brownies were dry but edible.

The playspace was open. The parents met and mingled. It was like a Friday night bar scene if children ruled the world. I left well fed and my daughter left well played.

I'm sure word of mouth with turn Nairobi's Knapsack into an enclave for the pro-active parents of Prospect Heights.

Check out Nairobi's Knpasack