We have lots to say about the importance of what we do...
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!
This week, our friend Melanie took over our Instagram to talk about all things baby nutrition! Melanie Venuti is a Nutritionist, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and owner of MV Breastfeeding and Parental Support. Along with teaching New Moms support groups, and offering private practice support, she has been working with families in various aspects of infant feeding and pediatric nutrition for almost a decade. As a Mom of 2 boys, Melanie understand the challenges that come along with the early weeks of breastfeeding, pumping to return to work, picky eating in toddlerhood and planning healthy meals for the family!
You can check out the whole take over in the video above, but we wanted to share with you a few key morsels of magic Melanie shared with us!
Imagination is innate in children but being over-scheduled can impact their ability to play creatively. One of the greatest gifts of this quarantined Spring is that children get to slow down and PLAY! Imaginative play encourages problem solving skills, both creative and logical thinking, and emotional skills such as self-regulation and empathy. Tune into your child’s ability to use their imagination. Are they talking or singing out loud as they play? Are they making up their own pretend stories with toys? When faced with a challenge, how quick are they to ask for help? How can you encourage them to come up with their own solutions before you solve the challenge for them? As a caregiver, you play an important role in supporting them as they build this muscle of the mind.
In order for imaginative play to take place, children must be given the chance to to lead AND make a mess. Your job as their grown-up and playmate is to provide a safe space that they can explore freely. If you are participating (which you do not always need to be), you must also go along with their narrative. If they want to be a green cat on its way to mars, your role is to be the fellow cat astronaut in the spacecraft. Adults can help children to stretch their imagination by asking open ended questions.
Use this video to help your child activate their brain and body! The last song “Magic Freeze Dance” by Hip Hop Jen can be used as a playtime starter. After the video ask your child to recall the characters in the song. Ask them to tell you a story about their favorite one. Remember to follow up with open ended questions and to commit you your character! The more engaged you are, the further their mind can run!
Books and stuffed animals are gold for early childhood development. Everyone has them and almost all babies love them. In today's at-home Baby Playtime video, I use these props in 3 different ways to foster baby's development. Enjoy doing this video with your baby or use it for inspiration as you come up with your own ways to play at home!
1. Using a plush puppet to teach body parts
Using an elephant puppet and the song "Elephants Have Wrinkles," we tapped each of our body parts as they were called out in the song. This can be also done to a simple song you know like "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes!" Baby will enjoy interacting with the puppet while also feeling the tactile sensation of the puppet tapping them from head to toe. Puppets are also great for pretend play, distraction during tantrums, and for younger babies- eye tracking practice! Just remember for eye tracking, puppet should travel up and down as well as left to right to balance out both the horizontal and vertical eye tracking muscles.
2. Using Mini Mouse to show levels
As you learned in our recent post about Conceptual Movement Education, our classes for babies, tykes, and toddlers build foundational brain and body skills through exploring movement concepts. In this video, we explored the concept of levels using auditory stimulation (music) and visual stimulation (mini mouse) to match high sounds with high movements and low sounds with low music. There are so many ways this can be done which are displayed in this video but the idea is that the stuffed animal is captivating baby's attention and hopefully after a few repetitions, baby notices the contrasting patterns in which the stuffed animal is moving. Depending on their personality, will show they are learning by staring intensely, giggling, or trying to participate perhaps by following and reaching for the toy.
3. Using the book "Where's Maisy" to build language skills as well as object permanence
Books like "Where's Maisy" and "Where's Spot" are awesome for babies 4-12 months old as they are developing object permanence skills. Rather than things being out-of-sight-out-of mind, babies are learning that something can be hidden and found which is SO MUCH FUN. These books use simple words and illustrations making them easy to understand while also using flaps to make it an interactive to find the main character. It's an absolute blast for baby and seeing them enjoy it will be a thrill for you too!