Overscheduling Kids: Yes or No?

BY  |  Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

DSC_0118.JPGRegistration for fall classes at the Montclair Little Y began on Monday. Meanwhile, the brochures for everything from tennis lessons to dancing school are piling up in my mailbox. Every year at this time, I wonder how many classes my preschoolers should take. I don’t want to overschedule my kids. But is it possible to underschedule them?
My sister-in-law puts her kids in soccer twice a week. I asked her, “Why soccer?” She said, “Doesn’t everyone do soccer?”
Meanwhile, my best friend doesn’t sign her 4-year-old up for anything. She says preschool costs more than enough. Most of my other friends do at least one organized activity from Taekwondo to private music instruction.
Researchers have recently stated that kids aren’t overscheduled. Kids who do up to 20 hours of organized activities (this pertains to big kids, of course) tend to be more well adjusted than kids who don’t do anything at all.
But what about the youngest ones? How much stuff should a 4-year-old do? I have to figure it out soon. Around here, kids’ classes–especially the ones at the Little Y–fill up fast.

The Terrible Twos Ain’t Got Nothin’ on The Tortuous Threes

BY  |  Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010 11:00am  |  COMMENTS (4)

IMG_1756.JPGEveryone will tell you to prepare for the Terrible Twos, but I’m here to tell you that 3-year-olds are so much worse. At least in the Gilmore house. With both of my daughters, their third year caused me the most grief. But my youngest has really turned my world upside down. I’m having to see my hairstylist every three weeks to cover all the damn grays I have now, and I can tell you what she did to cause each and every one. That big one right in front–I got that one the time she decided to bite into the glow stick she received in a goody bag, getting a mouth full of neon liquid. The little one that pokes straight up at my part–I got that one when she decided to climb and jump, knocking her front tooth loose. It’s just another sign I can add to my list of things that make me old.

Listen, I love that cute little spitfire–I do. But she’s lucky she is so cute and loving. Those attributes are her saving grace–a survival mechanism. It’s just that since she turned three, she exhausts me. Everything is a battle. I want to put her hair in pigtails, she wants it down. I choose a dress, she chooses a skirt. I do the unthinkable and forget to let her pour her yogurt drink into her cup, and she freaks out and wants an entire new yogurt drink to start all over.

Being a teacher, I took all the child development classes that explain why children behave the way they do. I’ve read all the parenting books on how to speak to children so they listen. I currently teach preschool and use my best teacher voice with the kids and it always works. But there is something about dealing with a three-year-old (my three-year-old) that I can’t manage to do right.

The thing is, my daughter is very passionate. When she smiles, her entire face brightens up. When she laughs, her entire body convulses in chuckles. When she hugs you, she squeezes you full of love. But when she is angry, watch the &$%# out.
She doesn’t turn four until next summer in June. I am trying to be strong until then….I just pray I make it out alive.

Tips For Organizing the School Year: Part I

BY  |  Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

goodmorning.jpgThe long, lazy, relaxing days of summer are rapidly winding down. Before you know it, school will be back in session. To keep some of that calm, relaxing carryover from summer, organization is key. Professional Organizer Deborah Gussoff gives us some tips to make our lives easier:
The Night Before
Planning ahead is a guaranteed way to make the off-to-school routine a smooth one. Unexpected events are known to occur (the alarm clock didn’t go off; the dog got loose and had to be retrieved before you could leave the house); the more you can do ahead of time, the less hectic and stressful your morning will be.

  • After your child completes his homework, make sure the assignment, as well as any books that need to go to school, are put back into the backpack.
  • Create a designated spot for the backpack (i.e., a cubby or hook near the door) and make sure it is returned there each evening.
  • If you don’t already have a hook that you return your keys to each time you enter the house, now’s the time to grab a hammer and nail! Knowing exactly where your keys are pre-empts a frantic search in the morning.
  • Check the schedule for the next day and assemble any necessary items (i.e., sneakers for Gym; the book borrowed for Library; equipment for an extra-curricular activity) and place by the door or in the backpack.
  • If your child brings lunch to school, make it as you’re cleaning up from dinner. If your child purchases lunch, make sure lunch money is assembled in the evening to avoid spending precious morning time running around trying to find exact change. Even better, if you can, pre-pay a week or month’s worth of lunches so you don’t have to worry about it daily.
  • Have your child select the next day’s outfit before bedtime. This will give you ample time to wash a favorite shirt if need be.
  • After you clean up the dinner dishes, set the table for breakfast. Put out plates, glasses, cereal bowls, silverware and daily vitamins or other medications.
  • Can’t move without your morning java? Consider a coffeemaker with a timer. You can set it to brew at a specific time, giving you a little extra motivation to resist hitting the snooze button.
  • Stock nutritious, portable snacks like granola bars and cheese sticks for days when you’re running really late.

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CHS Marching Band Previews its Upcoming Season

BY  |  Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

08 10 CHS Marching Band 3.jpgThe award-winning Columbia High School Marching Band invited parents, district staff and friends to its preview performance at Ritzer Field last week. Under the direction of CHS Director of Bands Peter Bauer and student drum majors Jonathan Schneider and DeShawn Gray, the band and color guard showcased the music and drills that will be seen at Columbia football games and at competitions they will enter throughout the year.

May the Force Be With You

BY  |  Monday, Aug 30, 2010 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

STARWARSPOSTER.jpgIn August, Maplewood Memorial Park transformed into Kansas with a free outdoor screening in the park of The Wizard of Oz. Now, the Maplewood Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, the Maplewood Village Alliance, and Studio B are offering another great movie under the stars–Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Bring the family, a picnic, some lawn chairs and enjoy the tale of “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” on Friday, September 10. The film will be projected on an inflatable 16′ x 9′ screen.

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Local Kids Keep the HOMECorp Community Garden Growing

Monday, Aug 30, 2010 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

On Miller Street in Montclair, tucked behind an apartment, is a community garden flourishing with all types of delicious food. What started in the spring by HOMECorp, has continued to grow and bring the community together.

While many adults oversee and tend the garden, it’s been kids who have volunteered many hours building, planting, and painting that has made it a beautiful place to be. I was invited to visit a few weeks ago by HOMECorp coordinator, Gwen Battle. The day I visited, the Montclair YMCA Travel Teen Camp was there for their weekly visit. They arrived and started painting the shed with the beautiful pastel colors that run throughout the garden. Other volunteers have been The Civics and Government Insitute from MHS, Temple Ner Tamid, Toni’s Kitchen, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and First United Methodist Church of Montclair.

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From the Farmers’ Market: Food Play

BY  |  Monday, Aug 30, 2010 11:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

peppers.JPGFrom the Farmers’ Market is a series on Barista Kids brought to you by Alison J. Bermack the founder of Cooking With Friends.
There’s no need to wait until Halloween to have some carving fun. How about taking a paring knife to a pepper, cranberry bean pod or purple eggplant? That’s just what we did the other day after a trip to the Millburn Farmer’s Market. The kids got instantly excited when they spotted the Gina’s tent (apparently Montclair’s very own Gina’s Bakery is opening a location in Millburn) welcoming them to the market with free samples galore. And sample we did.
Moving on (with full tummies), my daughter eyed the cranberry beans while wandering through rainbow-colored bins of vegetables. Holding one up for us to see, my little one’s face lit up as he recalled the whimsical sea creature from his favorite book One Lonely Sea Horse. Believe it or not, my son has been looking for these red-spotted, camouflage-patterned beans to make into sea serpents. You see, inspired by Joost Elffert’s Play with Your Food, we’ll often create animals and sea life out of various fruits and vegetables. With only a few cloves or beans for eyes, we’ve transformed a banana into an octopus and a ginger root into a big clawed lobster. It’s an excellent activity while waiting for dinner.
underwatereggplant.JPGIt was with this beautiful serpentine cranberry bean that we discovered our purpose at the market this week. And so we roamed tent to tent, looking not for perfect vegetables but for attention-grabbing ones: Peppers with interesting folds (to become a scrunched up mouth on a funny face), u-shaped eggplants (for diving sharks) and bunches of okra (for silly soldiers). In a short time, we had mounds of unusual looking vegetables and we were poised for an afternoon of play-with-your-food fun.

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Do You Know Who Your Kid’s Teacher Will Be?

BY  |  Monday, Aug 30, 2010 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (2)

teacherapple.jpgIt seems that every town does it differently, but most of them do it sooner than Baristaville–letting families know who their child’s teacher will be.
In Glen Ridge kids meet their next year teacher on the last day of school. And at Oakside Elementary in Bloomfield they were given the info on the last day of school. In SOMA a friend tells me that they usually aren’t told until the Friday before school starts. I thought it was bad in Montclair, we usually get told by the end of August. I’ve heard from some Montclair parents and teachers in the district that they will start to mail the placement letters today–but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Do you know who your kid’s teacher will be this school year? Are you happy about it?

Daniel Kirk: Last Free Download and Contest

BY  |  Sunday, Aug 29, 2010 8:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

songofmonth_01.jpgGlen Ridge dad and children’s author Daniel Kirk has been offering a download of his catchy songs every month since September 2009. We told you about his Halloween themed song last year. It’s the end of the summer and the end of the Song of the Month Club, so this month’s song is appropriately titled Carousel Horse, which reminds me of Martha’s Vineyard.
If you haven’t been downloading Kirk’s songs every month, you’re in luck, all 12 songs are available for free downloads. In addition to the free music, there has been a monthly book contest too. Kirk is giving away the biggest prize of all this time–a box of 25 autograph titles from Daniel Kirk’s collection. To enter, email Daniel here and tell him why you think you should win. The best entry received by September 30, 2010 will win.

MHS Montclair Mounties Suit Up For a New Season

BY  |  Saturday, Aug 28, 2010 5:00pm  |  COMMENTS (4)

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Montclair High School’s Mounties, along with new coach, John Fiore, looked good in blue today on Media Day. There’s a lot of excitement for this season. “This really is an exciting time for our football team! The new coach really cares about the guys, and we see a “new” energy in the players. My husband believes we had more people in attendance for a Saturday scrimmage than for many of last season’s home games. (Don’t know if that is accurate.) It certainly shows that Montclair is enthusiastic about what this year’s football season could bring, ” shares an excited parent.
The players are just as optimistic. Mounties safety and wide receiver Aamad Bush says, “Coach Fiore is great, I’m really happy he’s our coach; he keeps us focused and also makes sure we have fun while playing football. But we are very excited for this season. We have something to prove after last season and we are also excited to win games for our new coach. We wanna prove that Montclair football is still one of the best in the state.”
Check out the team’s new website for the latest news. Here’s the schedule of games for the upcoming season–Go Blue!

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