We have lots to say about the importance of what we do...
Navigating your child’s feelings and emotions can certainly feel like an uphill battle sometimes. One great way to help them understand their feelings and open up the dialogue is through reading a story that deal with the emotion at hand. Validating their emotions in a non-judgmental way is critical to building trust and open communication. A child that feels comfortable sharing how upset they are about having to take a bath or clean up their toys, will (hopefully) grow into an adolescent that opens up to you about the tricky, messy and confusing parts of being a teen.
You may be asking yourself – “Where do I even start?” Well, it’s more simple than you may think.
Here are a few tips:
In this video, Dani reads Emily’s Tiger by Miriam Latimer, a story about a child who is dealing with some serious anger. Emily’s parents are struggling to understand her and are frustrated with her outbursts. Luckily, Grandma saves the day by sharing that she has also felt these feelings and offers solutions to help Emily cope.
Use this video as a conversation starter when your child is feeling calm and revisit it after your child experiences anger. Remember to use active listening so your child feels accepted and loved!
Being home in quarantine has certainly been isolating and lonely at times. But in some ways, it's brought us closer to the people we love! Whether having Zoom time with relatives and friends or more time with siblings, our time together seems less a bit less rushed and a little more focused these days. Perhaps we've even come to appreciate many of our relationships more than ever before! I know I have.
The Invisible String is a great tool for helping our little ones know that even when we are physically separated, we are ALWAYS connected to the people we love. Sometimes as a parent, it can be heard to teach the less tangible lessons of life which is why I am SO grateful to amazing stories like this one (and shows like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood) for assisting me in the job.
This book may also be useful when it comes time to transition back into school, leaving behind our parents for the first time in months! I know that will be hard for both me and my 4 year old daughter. Enjoy this one with me today, and any time you need a little reminder that you are never truly alone.
In our favorite book about brain and body development, A Moving Child is a Learning Child, Cheryl McCarthy and Gill Connell write, “The body is the brain's first teacher.” That’s why building body awareness is such huge part of what we do in our baby classes, tyke classes, toddler classes, and preschool classes. When we are born, we don’t quite know what we have to work with and it's through sensory experiences (touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing, MOVEMENT) that we discover the world.
In the aboveLittle Beats From Home dance class, we explore body awareness through an isolation activity. Using a great action dance song that challenges the kids to dance with one body part at a time, we use our brains to identify that body part and self-control to keep the rest of our body still as we move that one part to the rhythm of the music.
Body awareness develops in many different stages over the course of early childhood. Here is a high level snapshot of how we incorporate it in our classes:
1. Intellidance Babies (ages 4-12 months): Raising awareness
Grown ups play a very active role in helping the babies learn about their bodies. Introducing the language of body parts through nursery rhymes and songs, engaging in sensory, tactile activities to bring awareness to the feelings of our different body parts, and using guided stretching and exercises to facilitate key developmental movement patterns in the body.
2. Intellidance Tykes (ages 1-2 years old): Building control
Building on what we learn about our bodies in the babies level, we start to introduce new challenges as the enter year 1-2. The little ones take on a little bit more of an active role in the moving and exploring the bodies with the loving support of a caregiver. As they develop motor skills, they start to be able to label and move isolated body parts themselves building on their rapidly developing balance, coordination, language, and self-regulation skills.
3. Intellidants Tots and Tutu Tots (ages 2-4 years old): Creative Movement
Once a young child is familiar with their body parts and how to move them in isolation, we start to introduce more imaginative play and skill building into the mix. These children LOVE transforming their bodies into different animals, characters, shapes, and sizes. They also are working on some critical movement skills that will benefit them far beyond dance class. We hone in on skills such as marching, galloping, running, jumping, leaping, moving in all directions, levels, speeds, and balancing.
It is truly astounding to watch a child progress from babyhood to preschooler in our dance program! Knowing where they've been and where they're going helps us provide a more impactful learning experience which is why Little Beats music and movement classes are truly unique. We LOVE what we do and our heart explodes every time we see one of our little ones discover new things about their body and what it can do. While growth happens so fast from ages 0-4, it is a slow and gradual, nonlinear process that has a huge impact on your child's future. We hope to help you help your child reach their potential no matter where they are at in their journey!
One of the best things about yoga is the ability to energize OR relax our bodies depending on the poses that are practiced. In our Little Beats yoga classes, we intentionally infuse each class with both types of poses to bring children to a calmer place by the end of class. When practicing with your children at home, we suggest starting with breath work – we LOVE Kira Willey’s Mindful Moments. Breathing helps us to find center and get us in the correct headspace to enjoy some yoga time.
Next, try some active, energizing poses. The goal here is to really get the blood flowing! Here are some poses featured in this video that you might try:
Finish up with a calming posture such as child’s pose. Child’s pose is particularly effective because it draws the energy of the body inward. When we lie our forehead on the mat, we are stimulating the vagus nerve. The pressure created between the eyes helps to lower blood pressure and slow our heart rate. Do you ever find yourself resting your head on your palm when you are feeling overwhelmed? You may have been trying to regulate your nervous system!
Use this video from the Little Beats from Home collection as your guide and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of yoga!
Though your child may not master right vs. left until elementary school, there is still a benefit to introducing this concept at a young age! You may notice very early on that your child is favoring one side over the other when they reach for objects or turn around. By encouraging them to use both sides of the body you will help them to build strength on their non-dominant side which is helpful for overall body balance and strength.
In this video from the Little Beats from Home collection, Dani is singing a song to encourage using each side of the body in isolation. If you're looking to continue building your child's brain-body connection, check out Shoe A Little Horse from Intellidance which introduces cross-lateral movement. Cross lateral movement involves using BOTH sides of the body at once and strengthens the corpus callosum which is responsible for connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. Cross lateral movement practice supports emergent literacy – check out this video from "Active Learning with Rae" for more info on the benefits of cross-lateral movement at any age!
Thursday's dance party was filled with fun but what we want to focus on from this video is the use of the song "Happy and You Know It." We sang it together but changed the emotion and action every time we sang it. All in one song we acted out being happy, scared, angry, excited, and sad! Much like this quarantine, it was an emotional roller coaster. But I'm really glad we got to practice feeling all the feels so when the real ones come on, we're a lot more prepared to deal with them.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
The ability to identify and express one's emotions appropriately in addition to the ability to interpret other people's emotions and respond with sensitivity.
Strong emotional intelligence leads to all good things such as empathy, trusting relationships, resilience, leadership skills, and a less-stressful, overall happier life. Learning emotional intelligence starts at birth. From the moment they can see our faces, our infants are reading our body language, the tone of our voice, the every little nuance of our facial expressions. And as they grow smarter, they grow more attune to our feelings in addition to their own.
How do we teach it to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers?
In early childhood, we most commonly nurture emotional intelligence by constantly labeling/identifying present feelings in ourselves and others, role playing with toys, and reading about feelings in stories. We also teach feelings through the arts- dance, music, and visual arts are all amazing ways to express feelings for ALL ages. In fact Expressive Arts Therapy is an entire field of study that many including our own Miss. Holly, make careers out of. What's most important in social and emotional development is that our children have the chance to explore, talk about, and feel their feelings safely- without judgement or reprimand. And there's no safer way to explore than through song and dance!
One of the best things about yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere including at home home! Practicing yoga together is a great bonding activity but you may feel a little lost on how to make this practice appropriate for your kids. Yoga cards are a great way to get started! In this video you will see Dani using the Yoga Pretzels card deck but there are many free card sets that can be printed on Pinterest. If your feeling crafty, you can take photos of you children in various yoga poses and use them as your yoga cards! Kids will LOVE seeing themselves and may be more likely to participate if they are the star of the show.
Now that you have your own card deck, there are a variety of ways to use them:
As you can see, yoga cards are a useful tool when trying to bring yoga into your home. Don’t forget to check out our Little Beats From Home Youtube channel for some awesome yoga videos!
Dancing with baby in your arms is a special, fun way to bond for sure. But did you also know that when you dance with baby you are supporting their brain and body development? In this baby playtime video you be busy stimulating your baby in many ways but we want to highlight a couple. First, you will Waltz with your baby as we do in all of our Intellidance Babies classes and a little later, you will join us in a standing dance to "Old Brass Wagon" by Denise Gagne which is a super fun group activity we do with friends in class but also something you can do alone at home.
Here are 5 ways your baby (no matter their age) is benefitting from dancing in your arms to these and any other songs you choose:
1. Building security and confidence- Being rocked and swayed to music reduces stress and calms baby down as it is a very familiar feeling from their 9-10 months in utero. They also enjoy the comfort of being close to you. A calm, securely-attached baby grows into a self-confident child who has an easier time practicing independence and exploration.
2. A multi-sensory activity- Dancing stimulates all areas of the brain causing vital neurotransmitters to spring into action. When in your arms dancing, a baby's brain is very busy is processing the sensory experiences of sound, feel, AND sight.
3. The Vestibular System- Dancing activates the vestibular system in the inner ear which sends messages about space and direction. The vestibular system (sometimes known as the 6th, most underrated sense) is key for baby to develop balance, coordination, spacial awareness, and sensory integration.
4. Teaching rhythmic patterns- When you hold your baby and dance to music, baby is gaining exposure to pitch, speed, and of course beat and rhythm. As your child's movement maker in this activity, you are teaching them the patterns of the music through your own body and their brains are busy trying to interpret it all. From utero, babies are perceptive to this type of stimulation and it's like superfood for their brains fueling important future pathways like logical thinking, emotional intelligence, and language development.
We hope this baby playtime video inspires you to dance with your baby and maybe even come try one of our baby classes! The best options for babies 4-11 months old would be Intellidance Babies or Rock-a-Baby.
Scarves are one of our favorite props to use in our Little Beats classes! They are developmentally appropriate for ALL age groups and are so versatile. The benefits of playing with scarves include:
In this video, you will see Dani dancing along to the song “Shake Your Scarves” by Johnette Dowling. Dowling’s album The Second Line – Scarf Activity Songs has plenty of songs to kick of your at-home scarf exploration but there are so many ways to play with your scarves!
Try these ideas at home:
No scarves at home? No problem! A dish towel, a light weight t-shirt or even a tissue can be used in a pinch. Get creative with your props and remember to let your child lead. They will always surprise you with their innovation!