The Spark – April 2016

A Note From The Director
Katie Kheel, Director

Mindfulness! It’s the hot topic these days. How to be mindful in parenting, how to be mindful in life, how to teach our children mindfulness, etc.  Mindfulness is the act of “paying attention on purpose” to the present moment, with a non-judgmental attitude.
I talk about mindfulness with the staff here as well. I remind the staff to be fully present when they are teaching. It really makes a difference and a student can feel that presence.  Of course, there is also an aspect of accountability. After a class, a teacher should ask themselves how did the class go, what could I have improved upon, what didn’t work, and are the children being challenged?
In the same way, when parents and caregivers are in class with their child, we ask that they be fully present and mindful. For children under three years old, the interaction of the parent or caregiver in an “Adult and Me” class is extremely important and necessary. The child will get much more out of class and developmentally they need that support.  Parents and caregivers can help the child follow along with the routines, discover materials, help them wait their turn, spot them through the gym games and circuits, and encourage them when they are hesitant or veer off. When the teacher and parent/caregiver work together a beautiful team is created that helps our little ones learn, grow and develop.
Music Man                                     
The Magic of Music                                    
Nick Moran, Early Childhood Music Instructor

Working with children constantly reminds me of why I love music. I witness, on a daily basis, the recognition on a child’s face that says, “wow this music sounds fun, I want to get up and dance, sing, shake.” 

My whole philosophy behind the way I structure my music classes is that “music works best when it excites us.” When parents and caregivers want to get up to sing and dance, I 100% believe children see that excitement and want to share in that joy.

I completely understand the obvious benefits of classic children’s songs that are designed to develop motor skills, etc. But in my opinion there’s no reason we can’t shake egg shakers to “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones instead of “Shake Your Sillies Out”. It’s just as easy to work on and explore basic musical concepts through artists like Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Marley with songs that get the whole room excited.

What I enjoy most about teaching music to kids is their openness to play, and their willingness to jump in and participate without hesitation. They are just thrilled that you are making noise, and they instantly understand that the noise they hear makes them happy. This is music at is simplest, and best. 

*For more information, check out Nick at

Sensei Scoop
Osu, From Karate
Karin Hillman, Sensei
Most people have a misconception of karate. They see the sport as only kicking, punching and  fighting, but karate is much more than the physical aspects. It is a way of living our life to the fullest and a tool to become the best individuals we can be.
I structure my classes with a routine that teaches young students how to follow directions, be aware, practice together, become a team, make smart choices,  focus, appreciate what they have,  and, especially, to respect  their parents and family. 
I think it is important to introduce my students to a variety of movement concepts. I draw upon my various experiences with dance, fitness and Seido karate to develop a more complex understanding of movement and the karate practice.
In teaching children, I find it especially important to incorporate fun games and obstacle courses that utilize the karate skills we cover. I also like to have the students perform certain activities one at a time in order to give them personalized feedback. Students are always encouraged to do the best they can, and I find that through this individual attention we see great results. Children learn how to stand up for themselves, and to be proud. 
The class encourages students to be active, but they also learn how to be calm by incorporating a short meditation at the beginning and the ending of each class. In the beginning of class they focus on what they are going to work on and commit to do their best. At the end of class they reflect on how they did and how they can improve. 
I believe that if my students strive to do the best they can, leave a little better than when they came in, and are able to carry what they have learned in Karate into their daily lives by trying their best school and becoming compassionate individuals, then, I have accomplished my goal. 
Creative Corner           
Spring time has arrived and our Early Childhood programs celebrated with rainbow week! An especially awesome projectour Preschoolers did last week was a water absorption experiment with color. This project is great for 3/4 years olds and all you need is a few cups, water, food coloring and paper towels. Be sure to check out the photo of the finished product in our #favpics sections. Find the link to the project below! 
Water Absorption Project

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