We have lots to say about the importance of what we do...
Starting an adaptive dance program for children with diverse needs has always been part of the larger plan at TDA & Little Beats. We believe that dance and movement have the power to heal, inspire and help every person grow! We wanted to be intentional and knew that we needed an experienced person with a particular set of skills to get this program going the "right" way. Last year the stars aligned and we found Holly! We are excited to announce that beginning Fall 2021, Holly will be starting a special new Adaptive Music and Dance program at Little Beats! This program is for children with developmental delays, autism spectrum disorder, and sensory integration challenges. We hope to extend this program to older children over the course of the next year. Hear from Holly about her background and why she is the perfect girl for this job.
Dear Little Beats community,
My name is Holly Olson. I started singing and dancing when I was a baby and never stopped! Music, movement, and art were always the creative outlets that I was thankful to have to be able to express myself. As I grew older, I realized that my passion for the arts were matched only by my passion for working with young kids, and children with special needs. After completing my undergraduate studies in psychology, music, and rehabilitation services, I went on to pursue my Master’s in Expressive Arts Therapy with the hope of sharing the therapeutic benefits of the arts to children and families.
During my Master’s program, I took a wonderful class on Dance/Movement Therapy with children, where I learned about Rainbowdance from the founder herself, Dicki Johnson Macy. I instantly fell in love with this program and became a certified instructor in both their toddler and preschool curriculums. During my first graduate internship at Eliot Early Intervention, I led their weekly Rainbowdance group and saw first-hand the amazing impact that providing a safe, caring, and non-judgmental environment can have.
We are so excited to kick off our adaptive dance program with Rainbowdance! Rainbowdance is a dance therapy program for young children with diverse needs. Through simple songs, movements, and rhythms, Rainbowdance encourages the development of:
I can't wait to enrich the lives of even more children at Little Beats and I'm so proud to be at the forefront of this exciting new chapter.
Unsure if Rainbowdance is right for your child? Miss Holly would be more than happy to chat with you to learn more about your child’s goals, strengths, and challenges. Reach out to Holly directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Messy Hands is an art class for babies, tykes and tots to encourage the exploration of sensory art materials. This class is all about allowing your child to create, explore and express themselves through art! While your child is busy playing, they will be practicing important fine motor, cognitive and social skills. Not only will your child have a great time getting messy, but they will also be experiencing many developmental benefits.
Benefits of sensory play:
Art provides children the invitation for non-verbal self-expression and communication. Art experiences also stimulate the senses and the brain, creating connections and wiring for future successful learning! With little ones, it’s all about the creative PROCESS, and allowing the child to manipulate, experience, and have an effect on the materials, rather than producing a final product. Making a mess is the result of creativity, learning and exploration - we will set up a space where children can be free to create and get messy in a safe and encouraging environment. Come play, sing, dance, and create with us!
Books about emotions are everywhere, but we LOVE Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis. This story stands out because it normalizes the range of emotions we feel as humans. When we are able to label a feeling it opens up the opportunity to regulate ourselves and move forward in our day. Fostering emotional intelligence is important starting at an early age, so that children can develop a robust vocabulary to communicate the way they are feeling. Emotional vocabulary goes beyond classifying feelings as good and bad or negative and positive.
Children’s literature has the power to open up important conversations with your child in a low-pressure way. While reading this story, pause to see if your child would like to share a time where they felt a certain way. You can give your own examples too! Another way you can support your child’s emotional vocabulary is to label your own emotions throughout the day. For example “I am feeling frustrated because I lost my car keys”. Remember: it’s important for your child to know that you feel a range of emotions. This will help them feel better honoring the way they are feeling at any given moment!
In this video, Holly presents an activity that helps to develop the vestibular system. The vestibular system is where all sensory and spatial information is passed through. While caregiver moves baby through a variety of motions, the vestibular system processes sensory input and allows the baby to regulate and make sense of the world around them.
A strong vestibular system will help your baby with balance and spatial awareness. Just a simple up and down movement will create a reaction in their body and show that not all movements are linear.
Have an older child!? They are still working on the development of their vestibular system. If you have ever wondered why your child might like to hang upside down or spin around in circles until they are too dizzy to stand, the vestibular system is your answer! Other ways you could help develop this system in your baby or toddler is by rocking them back and forth, sliding down a slide with them, or even creating an obstacle course that focuses on balance.
One of the greatest ways for a child to learn is through play. This freeze dance game is an amazing way to teach different gross motor skills, along with fostering your child's imagination. After dancing along to this song, extend the activity by pretending to be different animals. Your child can take the lead or you can offer suggestions. If you have animal toys at home, it might be fun to put them in a box, pick them out one by one and act them out together!
It is important to create a safe space for your child to use their own imagination. This will not only help them apply their creativity in different settings but it will also strengthen their social skills. By using imaginative play, you can create scenarios that a child might not be able to experience in their everyday life (especially during a pandemic). Playing out different scenarios will help them be creative with their problem solving skills. Whether they are playing with their friends or just you, it is an essential part of growth and development.
Remember what might seem silly to you, seems fun to them! Encouraging imaginative play will help your child grow into a more confident and creative person with good social skills and awareness of different situations!
Have you ever got a song stuck in your head and you just can’t get rid of it? The ability to do this when no music is actually present is called audiation. Audiation is an acquired skill and introducing it to children at a young age is quite beneficial. Audiation increases memory development and assists children in finding pitch. It may also help children learn to read in their head when the time comes!
When you notice your child begin to independently create music (either with their voice or with instruments) they are starting to audiate, but there are some steps that you will need to take to get your child to this point. These activities include:
Get curious! Think about new ways to interact with music and your child will be audiating in no time!
Sometimes the idea of being a novice gets in the way of us trying something new! For new adult participants in our studio classes, it can feel daunting to dance alongside their child in front of a group of adults. Though it may feel a bit awkward and strange, dancing with your baby has so many benefits and the best way to start is somewhere where you’re comfortable – at home!
Benefits of dancing with baby:
How to get started:
Guided Movement Favorites:
Teaching Body positivity may seem like a large concept for your child to grasp, but using a song like "Elephant Have Wrinkles" can help children to develop body awareness and understanding. Understanding your body in relation to others and the world is important to positive self-concept and starting this process at a young age can assist with building confidence as kids grow older.
Using positive words about your child can establish a positive self-concept. The song "Elephants Have Wrinkles" by Mike Whitla can help to start the conversation. Before starting the song have your child guess what animal you are thinking of, as shown in the video, and then go on with the activity. After the song is concludes, ask your child "Elephants have wrinkles...What's something that people have?" Their response can be as simple as "a nose" or as complex as "feelings." It is really dependent on what your child is thinking about in the moment.
From there you can foster a conversation about how everyone might have a nose, but they are all beautifully different. You can ask them to describe their nose or whatever body part chosen on them or you and you can compliment them and give them some positive feedback.
If their thought more abstract, like the feelings example, that conversation can be led in a similar way. Remind your child that everyone experiences feelings and check-in with how they are feeling that day. Give examples of how certain things make you feel and ask them to do the same. All of these conversations can help build a positive self-concept!
Songs that focus on positive self-concept:
Raising a reader starts much earlier than you may think! The earlier you bring the wonder of books into your child’s life, the sooner you will be working on their early literacy skills. Over time, you will notice that your child begins to interact more with text through eye tracking, pointing and making sounds, comments or questions (depending on age). By the age of 3 or 4 your child will begin to understand that print carries a message.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, is a great story to encourage your child to get involved while you read aloud. Children LOVE the repetition of re-reading this story and there is even a fun song to go along too (see video above)! Start by pointing to each letter as you read. After doing so in a few different reading sessions, ask your child to point with you. Soon, your child will be leading the charge and identifying new letters each time you read!
I always thought to donate breastmilk you have to have a super over-supply or be pumping around the clock. I thought "Wow, god bless the women who put in the extra energy to do that in their most exhausting time of life but nope, that is not for me." My thinking was WRONG. Here's what I've learned with baby #2 and The Mother's Milk Bank.
How it went down:
I had a totally normal supply of breastmilk for baby #2. My milk came in faster and stronger for sure (as is typical with the second babe) but it wasn't anything crazy. I started pumping at day 5 just to alleviate myself. The 2 weeks following, I pumped 2-3 times a day and sometimes only one boob or only to half empty because I didn't like the feeling of being engorged. BUT I also didn't want to pump TOO much because I didn't want my body to produce more milk (the more you pump/breastfeed, the more your body makes especially in those early weeks until your boobs regulate to your baby's needs and chill out.) My body regulated at around week 3 and my milk supply started to line up more with the routine of my baby plus a little extra because of the pumping.
What I did:
I liked that little extra because it allowed me to start storing a rainy day supply in my freezer. By rainy day, I mean if I got sick and my milk supply dropped, we'd have a stash to tap into. OR if I want to leave the baby for a day (or even a night?! Yolo?), I would have plenty of milk to leave with grandma. Mark my word, mamas, stored freezer milk IS FREEDOM!
Here's the thing, my baby doesn't eat half of the milk I produce so I really do have a lot of extra building up. Some of the milk just stays in my boobs until the next feeding (telling my body to not make more), and some of the milk gets pumped and goes into the freezer. The main idea is that I took the supply that came in those early weeks and relatively maintained it. Expended no effort to increase it and actually decreased it to the amount my baby takes + about 4 ounces extra for storage.
So now I'm 9 weeks in and I put away one extra bag of milk a day, I all of a sudden have 75 pouches of stored milk in my freezer! That's roughly 300 ounces of liquid gold!!!! I feel proud, I feel grateful, and I feel surprised at how that happened with little-to-no thought or effort. Just one pump a day when I wake up after feeding. One package a day. Literally, not a big ordeal for me AT ALL.
How I became a milk donor:
I have more milk than we will ever use so I contacted Mother's Milk Bank and got screened to see if I qualify to donate. It was a 15 minute interview, a survey, and a quick blood test at my doc's office. The requirement is to donate a minimum of 150 ounces which is pretty much exactly what I'm willing to give up while reserving that "rainy day stash" that I want to have.
What I've learned:
If you have a typical supply of milk in those first few weeks, you can pretty easily put away an extra pouch or two a day. Keep doing that and voila, you will have enough to donate in a couple months. Your milk will be used to help save babies who are fighting for their lives in the NICU and the mommies who are struggling along with them.
I feel SO SO SO happy that my baby and I can contribute to helping less fortunate babies thrive and I really am shocked at how easy this was. SO I'm sharing it with you to demystify the process and break the perception that donating breastmilk is burdensome and requires a mega oversupply of milk because it doesn't. IF you feel inspired, are pregnant and interested, or have an overflowing freezer stash, I highly recommend contacting the Mother's Milk Bank to learn more.
With love from my heart and boobs,
Emily Jabbawy, founder of Little Beats
@emjabb on insta
P.S. Please comment and share this blog post on social media so more mommies can learn!
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