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Coping with Single Parenthood

30 Jul

I consider myself a single parent, despite being legally married (in a church and all) for several practical reasons.  First, my son and I live in a separate home from his dad; second, I no longer concern myself with whatever (whoever?)  my (ex?) husband chooses to do in his spare time; and three, when push comes to shove, I am the one who must adjust and accommodate to make sure that Inigo gets taken care of.  Continue reading

Three Things to Remember When Your Child Has a Disability

25 Jul

By Stephen Gallup

Sooner or later, all parents deal with unexpected crises. Worry is just part of the adventure of raising kids. However, a surprisingly large number of parents also discover, usually sometime in the first three years of their child’s life, that a developmental disability is also part of the picture. Their child could be given a label like Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, ADHD, or autism. Or perhaps no diagnosis is offered, despite obvious problems.

My son Joseph was one of those who with no useful diagnosis. His birth in 1985 started our family on a very long odyssey in search of help. Here are a few lessons I learned along the way. Continue reading

Gymboree vs. Kindermusik Part 1

9 Jul

inigo at gymplay

Gone are the days when kids only got enrolled for kindergarten at five years old. Back then, parents actually had to lie just to get their kids into school, since kindergarten teachers did not want to take in students who were younger than five. If you are a mom who can’t decide whether to go with Gymboree or Kindermusik for your child, the maybe this article could help.

As a mom myself, I am rather surprised that all that has changed now, since kids are being enrolled in as young as two and a half. As a nurse (albeit a non-practicing one), my opinion has always been that kids during their toddler and preschool years should not be enrolled for formal schooling, since their mental development will flourish better through unstructured play and activities. At this age, kids are better left to imaginative play and freestyle exploration.

I do have to admit though, that early enrollment in preschools does give a child a certain edge when it comes to socializing with their peers. This is especially important for kids who have no other venues for peer exposure. Here in the Philippines, play dates and daycare are not really available for very young kids so school is really the only option for kids to have friends and playmates. After all, in these crime-laden times, allowing your child to play with the neighbor kids on the streets is not a great idea.

My own beautiful boy has turned 1 and 1/2 and has become something of a handful. He is very active and curious about his environment and loves to tinker with everything (especially stuff that he is not supposed to, like my makeup!). And maternal pride aside, he shows signs of being intelligent and advanced for his age like being able to figure out how to reach the purse I already stowed on a high shelf.  To be frank, I really grow tired of having to restrict him all the time for his own good– I know that toddlers just love saying No all the time, but part of me wonders if partly gets it from me.  That was why I decided to go enroll in a Mommy and Me class, so that he and I could spend some bonding moments together and he could have an outlet to burn off all that energy he has.  Also, as a work-at-home mom, I could use the chance to have a regular schedule and a chance to go out.

Unlike preschool, Mommy and me classes are not really formal schooling.  There is no attempt to teach any of the school skills like reading or writing.  Instead, the focus is on allowing moms (or dads or yayas, for that matter) to interact with their kid on a series of activities.  It really is more of guided bonding time.  Plus, unlike school that you go to five days a week, a mommy and me class is typically 1-3x a week, and only an hour long.

We first tried Gymboree’s Play and Learn Class.  The pamphlet I was given says that this class teaches problem-solving skills through physical exercises and activities.  One thing that I love about Gymboree is that they have very distinct class groupings– each class only includes children who are within six to eight months of each other.  As most parents know, six months’ difference in ages count for a lot when it comes to infants and toddlers.  At 1 year and six months, my son was at L4 (Level 4 is for kids 18 to 22 months).

Gymboree Play and Learn

The L4 Play and Learn class was a good mixture of sit-down activities such as singing with action and motor activities like going through an obstacle course.  The teacher used small songs that go with each activity, and the class was fast-paced to keep up with the kids’ short attention spans.  There are lots of toys used as props such as balls, shakers and rainmakers.  The class flowed seamlessly from one activity to another, because there were two teacher aides.  They took out all of the toys needed just at the right time and put them away again, cued the music, and just made sure that all the teacher would need to do is focus on the toddlers. My son had a good time in the class, and he definitely enjoyed the unlimited gymplay afterwards.

The staff at Gymboree Trinoma are always friendly, and my son, who can be very social when he wants to, definitely has a crush on his Teacher Nina.

KinderMusik Our Time

At KinderMusik, one thing that I noticed from the start was that the class grouping mas much wider compared to Gymboree.  My son had the option of enrolling in the baby class, which as called Village (for infants up to 1 1/2 years) or on the toddler class Our Time (for 1 1/2 to 3 years old) because his age happened to be the borderline for the two classes.  I had the good chance to talk with one of the program directors Teacher Suzette, and she said that since my kid was already a strong walker, we should try out the toddler class.  So we availed of a free trial class (they are very generous when it comes to trial classes–you can have as many as you want before deciding to enroll, according to Teacher Suzette) for Our Time taught by Teacher Christine at the Gingerbread House in Congressional Avenue, QC.

Unfortunately, my son did not really enjoy Kindermusik as much as he does Gymboree since Kindermusik was really more of a sit-down music class with periods on motor activities.  This is actually the opposite of Gymboree, which focuses more on being active with periods of singing time.  Although I could see that the Kindermusik does have good concepts like letting kids engage in imaginative play and storytelling, it was not for Ego who better enjoys climbing and walking up and down ramps.  Other kids who were older than Ego (2 years old) did enjoy though.  Needless to say, I won’t be enrolling Ego in any classes soon, but I do hope to try a Kindermusik class again in six months, when he turns two.  By that time, he might be more receptive to more quiet activities like acting out songs and listening to active storytelling.

This article was really more of how my own kid did on both Gymboree and Kindermusik.  If you are looking for more facts such as schedules, fees, etc so that you could see which one you would like read the continuation of this article: Gymboree vs Kindermusik Part 2