Why we are excited about our partnership with Equinox

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Winter is nearing and we see families in search of indoor enrichment programs. Dearest is proud to announce that we have started a partnership with Equinox East 61st Street!

Here are the top three reasons why we are excited about our partnership with Equinox:

  1. Supporting modern parents in New York City
    Modern parents in NYC lead busy lives and are in constant search of quality enrichment and childcare services that support their unique lifestyle. At Equinox, parents are encouraged to pursue their own passions, stay fit, and healthy while fostering a safe and nurturing environment for their children. Dearest is proud to support this, by providing a differentiated program that helps children develop future-ready skills.

  2. Challenging the status quo
    Traditional institutions have fixed schedules, fixed standards, and fixed costs. Andrew Minigan of The Right Question Institute in Education Week says “curiosity often is not fostered in schools, especially those driven by test-based performance standards.” Learning can happen anywhere and everywhere - not just within a classroom setting. It can happen, for an example, at a gym. Equinox’s For Kids Only (FKO) programs are focused on interactive and play-based learning and are dedicated to curating an engaging experience that sparks children’s curiosity. Similarly, at Dearest, we deliver personalized and high-quality early childhood programs to families in NYC in the comfort of their own homes, and fuel children’s creativity.

  3. Letting children guide their learning journey
    Children learn best when experiences are customized based on their interests. Equinox offers diverse programs designed to further children’s development. With sessions pertaining to science, art and design, instructional swim, fashion and design, dance and movement, basketball, soccer, cooking, and languages, children have the opportunity to explore, ask questions, and discover new talents. At Dearest, we have over 300 educators with diverse expertise within the field of early childhood education. Designing the learning experience around each child’s interests is what we are all about!

If you’re curious and want to learn more about Equinox’s Winter and Spring Preschool Alternative and Children’s Enrichment programs, visit their site here.

If you’re a parent interested in in-home private sessions and/or tailored programs for your child, you can reach out to us at hello@dearest.io for more information.

Event: Global Readiness Workshop For Ages 3-8!

Event: Global Readiness Workshop For Ages 3-8!

Last Saturday, we traveled around the world for our Global Readiness Workshop! Children ages 3-8 joined us for a trip to learn about other countries’ customs and traditions on celebrating birthdays. Along with our Dearest educators, they visited China, South Africa, and Mexico for an immersive, multicultural experience! 

Show Me What YOU Can Do: Process Art vs Product Art

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Imagine that you are walking into a classroom. Close your eyes and visualize the kind of artwork you see. It could be hanging on the wall or in the process of being created. My guess is that your mind’s eye is seeing picturesque, ‘Pinterest-worthy’ art.  Even though perfectly cut out shapes, expertly glued papers, and meticulously colored masterpieces are appealing to look at, I can bet that perfectly cut line is not the work of a 3, 4 or even 5-year old… It is the work of the teacher!  There have been countless times as a teacher and as a School Director, where I have highlighted the importance of process art vs. product art. This may be the first time you’ve heard of these terms, but you will soon be an art expert!

What is Product Art?

Product art is when the main focus of your lesson is the end result.  It is usually based off of a finished copy, with step-by-step instructions outlining how to complete the project. This typically results in an array of work that looks almost identical. For example, a preschool class at my school was studying fairy tales, specifically “The Three Little Pigs.” To make an art connection, the teacher wanted each of them to make a pig.  She showed them her example, and then cut out enough ears, snouts, bodies, and tails for her class. This resulted in 12 perfectly plump, pink piglets. While it was adorable, I had to ask her, what did the students learn? I challenged her to dig a little deeper and answer these questions: did it enhance or improve their fine motor skills? Did it allow them to think creatively? The answer to each question was “no”. While it did show their ability to follow instructions, it is also important to see what children can do with their own creativity and ability.

What is Process Art?

Process art is focused on the journey, not the destination. Process-driven art is based upon each child’s creativity, experience, and natural interests. As a result, no two pieces of art will look alike. For example, I asked my students to make pumpkins to decorate our classroom for fall. That was the only guideline given to them, and they had free range of all supplies. When the project was over I was left with some classic-looking pumpkins; some short, some fat, some tall and skinny! I also had quite a few colorful pumpkins and even a rainbow one! Each pumpkin was unique. I can tell you which work of art belonged to which student because they reflected their individual personalities SO well!  

This approach teaches students that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do art. It sets up all children for success and allows them to develop a personal connection with their work.

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How do I foster the learning through Process Art at home?

  1. Provide a variety of art materials for each project, even non-traditional art supplies.

  2. Don’t make an example for them to copy! I know this may be hard, but children have a deep desire to please. If they see your example, they will try their best to copy it. If they fail to copy it or do it “correctly,” it may leave them feeling frustrated or not good enough. Instead, guide them through the process.

  3. Enjoy the journey! Art isn’t a race! If they can’t finish in the time allotted it’s okay! Highlight the importance of the experience as opposed to rushing to get a finished piece on the wall.

Art aids development in so many ways. It grows their fine and gross motor skills, expands creativity, enhances problem-solving capabilities, and helps them to focus. I know it may be hard to relinquish control, but once you do, your "mini-Picasso's" will create amazing things!

About Ashley:

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Experienced School Manager and education professional with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry.

Back-to-School Blues: How to Help Your Child Cope with Separation Anxiety

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That crisp feeling in the air, leaves changing color, your local supermarket carrying crayons, binders, and pencils. These are telling signs that the seasons are not only changing, but that school is in full swing! But after all the preparation for the new school year, parents are still left with a lot of questions: Are they enjoying their teacher? Are they making friends? And most importantly, are they adjusting to their new school routine? Some might have made a seamless transition, but some might be facing anxiety. If your child hasn’t fully adjusted yet, don’t worry! Here are some things that you can do!

  • Set Up Your Routine

If you don’t have nighttime and morning routines established, now is the time! If you had a plan that used to work but is now missing the mark, it may be time to reevaluate how you approach bedtime transition as well as morning routines. Your child is most likely exhausted from the longer school day, which is jam-packed with activity. As a result, they will need more sleep! Start by going to bed a little earlier as a family. Engage them in quiet evening activities, such as reading a special good night story, which will allow them to relax and get a full night’s rest.

It is also helpful to have them start a routine of packing their lunches, and laying out their outfits the night before. Even if they need assistance with these activities, they will feel like an integral part of their school prep. Not only does it give them some control of their situation, it also cuts down on morning chaos. In my experience, a well-rested child that has had an organized and predictable morning will have a much easier, tear-free drop off!

  • Reinforce Friendships

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A lot of anxiety comes from seeing a sea of unfamiliar faces. Even if they’ve been seeing their new friends in school for weeks, they may not have established a strong connection yet, which can lead to an overall feeling of dissatisfaction. This is especially highlighted if friends and family have only watched your child or if they haven’t gone on regular play dates. This point was really driven home for me this year when a new student would come in crying each day. I reminded him that, he stays the night with his grandparents, his classmates like him etc. so school should be a breeze. He responded with, “Ya, but they love me. My teachers and school friends don’t love me yet.” It broke my heart and I realized, he was absolutely correct. If the only experience they have is with family members, I would highly recommend setting up a play date with some students from their class. When they have friendly faces to welcome them, they will begin to grow more confident, build elements of trust and community, and find that sense of belongingness in school.

  • Read About It

Books are a great way to help your child deal with change. It allows them to read about characters that are going through a similar life experience, and provides an element of comfort. I personally love: “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn, “Llama Llama Misses Mama” by Anna Dewdney, and “I Love You All Day Long” by Francesca Rusackas. These books deal with the feelings of leaving family, making new friends, and separation anxiety. As a teacher, I use books all the time to introduce new ideas, or to deal with feelings in my classroom!

  • Home Sweet Home

The last bit of advice I have is a tried-and-true method, pack them something familiar. Bringing a little piece of home to school will provide a tremendous amount of comfort. It can be a piece of their baby blanket, a snuggly toy, a favorite book, or even a picture of your family. When they are feeling homesick they will be able to take it out and remember that home isn’t that far away!

If your little one is still clinging to you and cries, “Mommy don’t go! ” just remember this is a temporary challenge that will get better with each drop off. In a few short weeks, they will be begging you to stay in school longer!

About Ashley:

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Experienced School Manager and education professional with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry.