(Long Island, N.Y.) Moms with babies often times feel out of touch and out of the loop. When I caught myself singing the ‘Higglytown Hero’ song out loud in the car—driving by myself, I knew it was time for a reality check. And what I realized is, I really need to get out more. A class, a group — anything! So I started looking into all the activities available on Long Island for both myself and my two-year old. I found tons of ads for “Mommy and Me” classes. But which one do I choose? Is it worth it? Will my daughter (who can’t sit quiet for more than three minutes) get us both cast out of the class?
To help sort things out, I asked Cristina DelGuidice, certified preschool teacher and mother of two who teaches a “Mommy and Me “class at the Mothers’ Center in Northport www.northportmotherscenter.org
(Embarrassed to say), I’ve never signed up my kids for a Mommy and Me class. Can you tell me a little bit about what goes on in a typical class?
Well it depends on what kind of Mommy and Me class it is and what you are looking for. There are so many out there. You can have an art class, music class, movement class, yoga class or a story time group. The class I’m teaching now, starts off with some kind of free play for 15 minutes. This allows the child to get used to the surrounding and other kids. Next we have circle time, where we sing a couple of songs and read a book. After circle we do an art project. Then we do some kind of movement ( dance, parachute etc.) Last I usually end with the bubble machine. The kids love the bubble machine.
What ages are the classes designed for?
The ages can vary. The class I’m presently teaching is 15-24 months. The children can be as young as six months old or as old as four and five. The first class I took with my daughter was a Gymboree class and she was eight-months.
So, what are some great things kids can get out of going to Mommy and Me classes?
Mommy and Me Classes provide the opportunity for children as young as six months old to socialize with other adults and children. I think it’s great for children to learn to be around other people besides their immediate family. It makes new situations or environments less scary for them.
It also exposes them to so much; depending on the class you take. My son and I took a music class and it truly taught him about rhythms, beats, instruments and music from around the world. In art classes they learn about using different mediums ( paints, crayons,markers, ) to create their own masterpiece. My favorite has been the Mommy and Me yoga class. My kids have learned about breathing. balancing and concentrating. I use the breathing techniques when they start to have a “melt down”. It really helps them to calm down.
It also teaches children how to transition from one activity to another. When they are very young it’s difficult for them to go from one activity to another but, after a few weeks of doing it in a class it’s amazing how they learn.
What about the moms? Is it a great opportunity to make new friends?
It’s a great way for moms to make new friends and compare notes. After seeing someone week after week you definitely develop a relationship. One of my closest friends I met at my first Mommy and Me class when my daughter was eight months old, and now she’s four and a half.
OK, this may be dumb-dumb question—what about daddy? Can dads take their kids to the classes, too?
Dads do take their children to these classes. They even have Daddy and Me classes on the weekends. My husband took my daughter on Saturday mornings. He loved it and so did she. It was their alone time together while I was with my son at music class.
I was always hesitant in signing up my son because he was, how should I put this, “spirited” and I was afraid he would not sit quiet or play nice. What would you say to a mom who might have a similar spirited child but would like to try something new?
My son was the one on the slide while the teacher was at circle time. As a teacher it was a struggle for me to let him do his own thing ( as the teacher encouraged ). I wasn’t paying all this money for him to run amuck. It took awhile but he learned to transition from play time to story time. It’s all up to the child. When they are ready developmentally they will do it.
I would encourage moms with ‘spirited’ children to definitely sign up for a class. Not every child is going to sit down and listen to a story. An active child might need a gymnastics class or a class where they can move around.You want them to experience how to transition from one activity to another. This is one of the ways to do it.
Any advice you can offer a new mom, who may be overwhelmed by her new responsibilities and feeling cut off from the rest of the world?
Join something, whether it be at the library, Jamboree or a mom’s group. All moms need other moms to support each other. I met my closest friends at the mom’s group I joined 4 years ago. I have learned so much from The Mothers’ Center, not just kid stuff. It was through the Mothers’ Center that I learned about yoga. They were offering a class and I was hooked. And now that my children are in pre-school I’m teaching a Mommy and Me class at the center. It has been a great experience for me.