Hudson Valley Parent

HVP January 2017

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26 Hudson Valley Parent n January 2017 By STACEY LUTZ B eing a parent means nurturing, guiding and helping - but it can also mean being dubbed Chief Chauffeur as you cart your little ones to and from events, activi- ties and programs. The benefits of organized activi- ties for kids are numerous, and there is also value in helping children gain an affinity for something they enjoy, which could help them avoid nega- tive influences and maybe even de- termine a career path as they grow. When to begin Is it ever too early to start? "I think it is important to get children involved in activities early, [as] it helps them learn to socialize and deal with others in a fun set- ting," says Lisa Tanczos of the New Windsor Music Academy, who adds that music lessons not only build confidence and self-esteem but also improve motor skills. Her son, who was introduced to activities when he was 3 via tum- bling classes, is now 5 and takes swimming and music lessons. "Children benefit from activities from a very young age. Music is always a great way to engage chil- dren," adds Kimberley von Baeyer, school social worker at Orange-Ul- ster BOCES in Goshen. Some pro- grams, she says, actually aim to engage children as young as a year old in both parent and child-type groups or toddler-only settings. Good sports While von Baeyer points out that playing on sports teams can be an excellent experience for kids, she advises waiting until the child is at least 5-years-old to begin - when they are better able to follow clear, simple directions. By that age, children can also clearly verbalize if they don't like it and why. Although sports can help young children learn how to lose and win gracefully, they can also be inherent- ly stressful, particularly if too much pressure is put on them too early, she says. Sometimes, parents can push a little too hard, making chil- dren not want to participate at all. "This is an area where I see a lot of parents pushing their children, perhaps to re-live their own child- hood or past dreams," von Baeyer adds. She cautions that over-zealous pushing can lead to children who simply do not want to participate. Scouting chance Von Baeyer, who is also a Cub Scout leader with her oldest son who is almost ready to begin his Eagle Scout Project, says that scouting is another activity that can kids can start when they are as young as 5. "It teaches the kids so many char- Starting early: Activities for tiny tots "Children benefit from activities from a very young age." KIMBERLEY VON BAEYER School social worker, Orange-Ulster BOCES Hunter, 18-months, enjoys a tumbling class. Photo by Stacey Lutz

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