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Rainy Day Indoor Activities for Kids

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 If it’s raining and your day has shifted from fun to booorring, try one of these rainy day indoor activities for kids to keep them learning, moving and having fun - all without screens!

  1. Use your brain and your body with an indoor scavenger hunt. You can determine how easy or how hard the hunt is, how much time you want to kill, with how many items you have on the list and what fun add-ons you’ll tack on to the game.

  2. Recycle old those old mismatched socks and make sock puppets. Grab some old socks, stray buttons from those pants you don’t own, and other arts and crafts materials to create your very own puppet! Bonus: for extra fun, have a puppet show with the finished product and then watch the Muppets! 

  3. Have an indoor picnic or tea party. This is a fun way to eat snacks and meals while stuck inside. You can bake or create some fun and healthy treats to go along with your tea party or picnic. Pinkies up!

  4. One of the ultimate indoor activities for kids, build an epic fort with pillows, blankets, chairs, and couch cushions from around the house. Grab books, LEGO® bricks, actions figures, dolls, or stuffed animals for hours of fort-fun! Check out these 9 creative indoor forts!

  5. Have a family fashion show. Raid the closets and find the classiest (or tackiest) dresses, suits, ties, and costumes to dress up in. Put on some tunes and walk down the cat walk. Equal parts glam and fun.

  6. Get the band back together! Make music using kitchen utensils like pots, pans, wooden spoons, plastic cups, rubber bands and make music. Play familiar tunes and sing along to the beat.

  7. Get the kids in the kitchen and whip up a batch of cloud dough. The kids will have fun making the concoction and playing with it!

  8. Write a letter to a friend or family member. A day stuck indoors is a perfect day to write a letter to a friend or a faraway family member that you are thinking of. Everyone loves getting mail, this is a perfect time to sit down and take the time to show that person some love!

  9. Have an indoor beach party. Put on your swim suits, grab some sunglasses, and lay down your beach towels and pretend you are lying in the sun! Have your kids take a warm bath in their swimsuits and goggles to take the fun to the next level.

  10. It’s the indoor games! Create an indoor obstacle course and pretend you’re at The Little Gym! Lay down cushions and have your child go around the house doing different kinds of obstacles. Just make sure they are doing their obstacles in a safe area!

  11. Whatever the weather may be, these boredom-busting indoor activities for kids are sure to turn a rainy day into a memorable one. The sun will (hopefully) come out tomorrow!

If you’re looking for an indoor playground near you, kid-focused activities like The Little Gym can be another great option for busy families on those rainy days. Bul. Bulgaria 118


7 Simple Ways to Bond With Your Baby

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As a new parent, you’ve got tons of questions. There’s so much you need to know, like how to deal with separation anxiety as a working mom or how exactly to travel with a newborn. Sure, you read dozens of books about how to parent while pregnant, but now that your babe is here, you don’t have time to read the millions of parenting books out there. You want to spend quality time with your kiddo, but beyond bath time, you’re wondering what you can do to squeeze the most learning and fun into every minute. We chatted with Randy McCoy, the curriculum director at The Little Gym, about seven simple ways to engage your baby in some developmental learning that’s fun for both of you.

  1. Divide and conquer. With the many responsibilities that come with parenthood — diaper changes, baths and meal time — chores such as doing the dishes and sweeping suddenly seem like Herculean tasks. Split the household duties with your partner so that one of you is with the baby and the other is taking care of the little things that keep your house running. “If moms and dads make a concerted effort to divide up and share these responsibilities, then some dads might find themselves with more quality time with their children,” says Randy. If you’re a parent of multiples, consider hiring a housekeeper so you can spend more time with your little ones. It’s totally okay to have a messy house too!
  2. Class it up. It can be tough those first few months without another adult to talk to other than your partner. Look for Mommy, Daddy + Me classes in your area that are age appropriate to socialize with other new parents who are going through the same joys and fears as you. “Not only do Parent/Child programs offer activities that parents can do with their child at home, they also provide valuable developmental information too,” says Randy. Plus, you can bond with other parents about milestones like crawling, eating first foods and rolling over.
  3. Get chatty. From newborns through the first year of their lives, babies are adorable little sponges who absorb every detail, sight and sound around them. So the best thing you can do to boost their language skills is talk to them often, even if it feels a little silly. “Playful speech — higher pitched with inflections — helps develop language skills in babies,” says Randy. “Your baby is listening, watching and taking it all in. They are hearing the sound of your voice, watching the movements of your mouth and tongue and hearing the individual sounds of the words you speak.” Pick up board books to read out loud to your baby. Narrate throughout their diaper change. Talk about your day. Have fun and don’t be afraid to bust out some silly voices too.
  4. Give ’em a song. Music for babies doesn’t have to be limited to nursery rhymes. You can make a playlist of your favorite tunes and sing while giving them a bath. Make up songs about anything and everything. Your baby isn’t judging your not-so-American-Idol voice. They just enjoy the sound of your voice, since they’ve been listening to you since day one from the womb.
  5. Get down on the floor. Play time is learning time for your kiddo and is a great way for some quality one-on-one time. “Putting your baby on the floor with a variety of colorful and interesting things to reach for and look at accomplishes two things. One, it’s a great way to exercise the muscles of their back and core. Two, it stimulates their sense of touch and sight,” says Randy. Randy suggests cuddling, rocking them back and forth and trying out different movements and motions. In short, play like you’re a kid!
  6. Cuddle up. If you’re a working parent, you might be stressing out how to squeeze in all of this quality time before and after your full-time job. Randy says that at least one hour every day will go a long way. Daily activities like diaper changes, getting your baby ready for bed and story time are all times to focus solely on your baby with plenty of kisses and cuddles afterward. “Holding, cuddling, kissing and hugging are all quality moments that allow for maximum parent-child bonding,” says Randy. Those sweet baby cheeks are practically begging for unlimited smooches from Mom and Dad.
  7. Feast for the senses. Your baby’s brain is developing every single day. Provide them with lots of sensory input to get their five senses working. “Make their environment interesting and stimulating. It’s one of the best things you can do with your baby,” says Randy. Let them hang out in their high chair while you cook dinner to engage their sense of smell. Play different types of music or offer musical toys. Give them different textures to feel. Offer colorful toys that make sounds when shaken. Talk about your day with them. Even if they don’t respond to every single thing you’re doing, just know that they’re taking it all in.

Even with a busy schedule and a messy house, you can still make quality time with your baby productive and fun. To learn more about The Little Gym or to find a class near you, visit www.sofia.thelittlegym.eu

Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids

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If your kids are experiencing the mid-summer boredom blues and you’re running out of things to do with kids, it’s time to get them outside for some awesome, outdoor, summer fun. Playing outdoors has more benefits than just getting the kids out of the house; in fact, research shows that outdoor games and play promotes social skills, increases attention span, helps to reduce stress, and kids can get their daily dose of vitamin D! Need we say more? Check out some of our favorite outdoor summer activities for the whole family.


Backyard Fun


  • Craft a backyard obstacle course using items you have on hand like water hoses, pool noodles, or even brooms! Have the kids do monkey-jumps over the hose, forward rolls through a line of pool noodles, and hitting a ball with a broom to the finish line! Have your own ninja warrior course!

  • Put together a backyard scavenger hunt and let your kids go wild. There are so many things kids can find in the backyard, like friendly bugs, plants, flowers, rocks or even feathers. 

  • Plant a garden. Not only will planting a garden teach children about responsibility (think watering and weeding), it will help teach them how things grow. Gardening is also proven to help with cognitive functions, socialization and language skills.

  • Turn on the sprinklers or craft up a DIY slip ‘n slide. The kids will spend hours outside frolicking in the water and they might convince you to take a slide yourself.

Nighttime Activities


  • Summer activities like backyard camping, equipped with s’mores by the campfire, is a special experience for a child. Grab the tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, and lanterns and camp without the worry of forest creatures (depending on where you live). The kids will have fun having a real camp experience along with delicious, ooey-gooey s’mores!

  • Host a backyard movie night. Project your child’s favorite movie onto a hanging white sheet and make one of these delicious popcorn recipes and you’re ready to go!

  • Catch and release - fireflies! If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where fireflies are visible at night, take this opportunity to catch (and release) these whimsical bugs. 

Outside the neighborhood; exploring the great world out yonder


  • Live near a pond or lake? Head out on a mini fishing trip fully equipped with your child’s own fishing pole and bait. If your kids like creepy crawlies (worms), let them go digging in the backyard before you head out! Looking for something less time consuming? Feed the ducks some halved grapes or thawed frozen corn!

  • Explore good ol’ mother nature with a trail walk or scenic hike. This is a great way for kids to get out their energy and to learn about the world around them. Be sure to pack easy-to-access snacks and lots of water. Don’t forget the sunscreen too…  Here’s are great tips and a packing list broken out by age.

  • Head to the local park, splash pad, or community pool. Pack a picnic lunch and head home just in time for a good afternoon nap!

With these fun, outdoor games and activities your family is sure to have a fun summer. Too hot for outdoor fun? Then come play with us at The Little Gym Sofia www.sofia.thelittlegym.eu

How to Talk to Kids: 10 Questions to Ask Your Child

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Sitting down and having a conversation with your child, no matter their age, is no easy feat. With the hustle and bustle of the workday, school, homework and extracurricular activities, it can be difficult to sit down and have an uninterrupted one-on-one conversation with your child.


Parent-to-child interaction is a critical child development component for learning and language development and retention. So, if you’re missing or struggling with implementing the verbal piece of the puzzle, put down your device(s) and make time to talk with your child one-on-one. Not only will this help your child learn how to have a one-on-one conversation, it will also teach your child how to listen, reply, and formulate their own thoughts, ideas, and answers. If you’re wondering how to talk to kids in a way that fosters child development we’ve put together 10 questions to ask your child each night to help build conversations and relationships with your child.


What made you smile today?
Is there anything that made you feel sad (or mad, or glad) today?
What are you looking forward to most tomorrow?
Who did you play with today (at school, camp, The Little Gym)?
Who did you enjoy spending time with today?
Did you help anyone today?
What was your favorite part of your day?
What are you going to dream about tonight?
Did you learn something new today? or Did you learn something you already knew? If so, tell me about it!
And be sure not to forget million dollar questions like…. Did you brush your teeth? And, did you use the bathroom?
When raising children, making the time and effort to converse with your child and providing them with opportunities to talk with you, will not only foster language development, it will also help to increase your parent-child relationship. Need some more questions? You can also check out this list of 50 more questions to get those tough little nuts to crack.


One more conversation starter could be, “how was your time at The Little Gym?” Kid-focused activities like The Little Gym can be a great option for busy families providing age-appropriate programs available after school, on weekends, and even when school is not in session.

Why Your Kid Needs Summer Camp

 


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Parents want their kids to have the best experiences possible. They want their children to be happy, healthy, and to find success. While there are many activities for kids to help your children achieve these life goals, enrolling them in summer camp programs can help. Summer camps for kids offer children a fun, nurturing environment where they are given opportunities to interact with positive role models, work together with their peers, develop creative skills, build independence and so much more. Check out these 5 benefits of summer camps for kids:


1. Unplug from technology: Studies show that children spend a whopping 7.5 hours on average, per day engaging with technology. Camps provide children with technology-free hours where they are able to rediscover their creativity and engage with their peers.


2. Promotes independence: Camps give children the opportunity to grow more independent, whether for a few hours, a day, or a week at a time. The separation from parents allows children to learn to rely on themselves, their peers, and others in a safe and secure environment.


3. Engage in more physical activity: Kids spend so much time sitting at desks, on the couch, or at the kitchen table; summer camps provide children with physical activities for kids, a chance to have fun and get moving with their peers through running, jumping, climbing and more.


4. Learn teamwork: Camps provide children with the unique opportunity to work together for a common goal; whether during a game or activity, kids are communicating, learning, and benefitting from one another.


5. Builds self-confidence: By removing competitive activities and tasks, children are given the opportunity to gain new skills and accomplish tasks and experience success. This type of success is directly correlated to gaining self-esteem and self-confidence. 


Summer camps are a great way to provide children with the opportunities to gain important life skills to become happy, healthy and successful adults. To learn more about The Little Gym’s Summer Camp programs for kids 3-12 years call us at: tel: 0888594441

Meet our team at The Little Gym Sofia!

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We are the team of The Little Gym Sofia in Bulgaria! Our gym is the first one to open in Bulgaria and we are super excited to be the ones to introduce the magic of The Little Gym to the kids on our city.  We feel privileged to do our internship in The Little Gym The Hague and can’t wait to meet you and your children later this week! In the meantime, here is a little information about us:

 

Martin: I am the owner of The Little Gym Sofia. I discovered The Little Gym through my younger daughter, Martha (7 yrs), who has been following the program in The Hague for 3 years now. I fell in love with the program, the philosophy and the teaching methods of The Little Gym. I have always wanted to find a way to help children, to do something that helps them develop their full potential. When I discovered The Little Gym, I realized this was the thing I had been looking for. Having gone through extensive training in The Little Gym program and philosophy, I have not only learned about gymnastics and teaching concepts, but  I feel I have also become a better father. And here I am today, with a background in international law and criminal justice, I am bringing The Little Gym to my home country in order to enable the kids from Sofia to experience its magic.

 

Radoslav (Rado): I am thrilled to be part of the very first The Little Gym in Bulgaria. I am crazy about sports. I have been chasing the ball since I was 3 years old. As a kid, I started with football and after that I tried almost every sport – from handball, to gymnastics, athletics, martial arts, swimming, rafting... Practicing sports is like breathing for me. I love kids. I have been teaching different sports to children of different ages and love working with them.

 

Gergana (Gery): I just love being part of The Little Gym family. With a bachelor degree in special education, practicing various sports has been a major part of my life since I can remember. In addition, I just adore children. I am a proud mom of three and also a passionate kids photographer. I love working with children, they inspire me and motivate me. Having the chance to combine all my loves and passions at The Little Gym makes me genuinely happy.

 

Lilyana (Lily): I feel privileged and super happy that I have become part of The Little Gym. I have graduated from the National Sport Academy in Sofia as a Sport Coach and a master degree in Karate and Sport for High Achievements. My sport career started with karate when I was just 9. I became part of the National Karate Team at the age of 13 and earned my black belt at 18. But my real passion is soccer – I played it professionally for 7 years. I love working with kids. I have been a karate coach since 2007 and a soccer coach of boys and girls. Children inspire me and make me a better person."

 

 

 


How you can help your kid to focus

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It is true – kids nowadays find it hard to focus, can’t keep their eyes on what they are doing and sometimes miss important details in instructions. Usually, in group activities the little ones actually learn how to pay attention, to listen carefully, to respond to verbal guidance and to become more engaged.

Here are some activities (group and individual) your child can benefit from:

1. Kids may not respond to direct instruction when it comes to everyday activities, like brushing their teeth, for example. They may resist, which could lead to an angry parent and we don’t want that to happen. So, next time consider making up a song or a rhyme to bring attention to the task. This will help the kid remember what he is supposed to do. It could also be used for academic purposes – when you are trying to teach your child a certain concept.

2. It is very useful to have your child repeat instructions back to you. This way he engages different brain structures and builds strong neuron pathways, important for learning.

3. Clapping to indicate the sounds in a word, stomping feet to count – these will help your child be more engaged and make stronger memories.

4. Learning and playing with hands-on materials, play dough, etc. – this will help the child who loves to touch and be touched.

5. Children need to move in order to learn. Use balls and bubbles to promote body awareness and perceptual motor skills, body positions and balance.

6. You can engage movement in learning when possible. Use the space you have to make the kid move around and may be pick up flashcards which he has to memorize. Or tape different parts of a puzzle on the walls and make your child jump in order to reach them.   

The most important thing is that learning can happen in a fun and natural way for the kid in a safe environment, where the child feels independent and valued.



How do I imagine the ideal place for my kids’ development?

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It was the Sunday evening of a really cold day. If you have stayed at home with your child or children during these long winter days, you probably know how overwhelming and energy-consuming that could be sometimes. Well, this particular Sunday was different for my family because we played a game. Not a calm game, nope. But one, which requires lots of running, coordination, good motor skills, planning and, of course, lots of laughing (and, as a bonus, results in a deep sleep at night).

I learned about the Mr Fox game earlier that same weekend during a very dynamic and creative recruitment meeting of The Little Gym Sofia which I was invited to observe and evaluate. This game was played and directed by the future instructors and the management team. When I observed how these enthusiastic, happy, positive young professionals became consumed by the activities, not spearing their energy but dedicating their full potential, I immediately imagined how they would interact with my own children. And I realized that I want this to happen for several reasons.

The Little Gym embraces the philosophy that every child needs someone who has faith in their success and who guides them through the process with patience and love. Games, fun and gymnastics are the tools which the instructors (imagine the guys I described above) use to develop motor skills, coordination, flexibility, body awareness which are essential for our children participation in any everyday activity, not only sports. The program is structured in such a way that the kids will acquire essential skills for their particular developmental stage and, through sport and movement, they will actually become more confident, socially engaged and capable of taking risks.

As a psychologist and a parent, I have always dreamt of such a place where the role-model figures will evoke warm emotions in my children and there will be trust to be gained and attachment to be developed. I imagine a place where I will be able to look from not so far, staying in the same hall (it is really good to stay and observe the class, it is worth it!) admiring the efforts of my 4-years old boy (who is a very active little beast) and the complex activities that my 9 years old (an elegant tween) demonstrates. They will look for me in the hope that I have seen their accomplishment. And I will be proud.

So, that night when we finished playing Mr Fox countless times and my daughter gave me a breathtaking hug, saying: “Hey, mom, I want us to play more often like that!”, I knew that The Little Gym is our place. We can’t wait for it to open in Sofia.

[Anna Joukivskaia, a mother of two, is a family therapist, who has been working in the field of education, development of social, communication skills, emotional intelligence, healthy self-esteem in individuals. She has been involved with the well-being of parents and their children for 12 years. Anna holds a degree in Clinical Psychology from Richmond University in London (2005).]
  


Why you should let your kid explore the world?

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To be exploring the world without fear is one of the first and most essential signs of confidence that a healthy child develops. When mom and dad are not over-protective and let their kid learn about their surroundings, fall and get up again at times, but still eager to try new things, then they are in the process of raising a confident child.

When do parents actually start worrying about their kids’ safety? When they learn how to crawl. And later, when they learn how to walk, when they are around 1 year old. With walking comes the wider world. The wider world means more trouble, some might say. May be true, but when we are close enough to react if something happens and not so close for the child to feel he is constantly watched over, we have a great chance to succeed in dealing with hazardous situations. When the child falls, for example, our instinctive reaction might be to run across the room to “save” him. My advice is – count before you run. You will have seconds to assess the intensity of the situation and in most cases the kid will not cry (if we haven’t induced this reaction in him) and will start up again. This is how our children learn their early life lessons and develop independence.  

“I know” and “I can” are the words we want to hear from toddlers. It is our job as parents and professionals to develop the passport for a lifetime of social well-being – a healthy self-esteem. How people value themselves, get along with others and perform in school and work later in life all depend on their self-esteem. Setting the grounds is essential.