The Ultimate Plugged-In Parents’
If you have kids, you know that parenting isn’t a full-time job; it’s an 18-year (and longer!) adventure. To make your journey a little less scary, we’ve compiled the ultimate directory of parenting resources—from art classes for toddlers to zapping teens’ zits—that every Westchester grown-up should know. Cut it out and keep it handy—you won’t want this to get lost in the Bermuda Triangle of permission slips, homework, and school bake-sale notices known as your kitchen counter.
By Laurie Yarnell
Illustrations by Caitlin Kuhwald
The upside: our county offers countless family-friendly resources. The downside: it’s difficult to choose the best of the bunch. Don’t know where to go, what to do, or whom to call? Relax. We’ve interviewed the most experienced experts, chatted with the choosiest childcare professionals, and peeked into the Palm Pilots of some of the county’s pickiest parents. (And yes, we used some of our good old-fashioned, finely-tuned yenta skills, too.) The result? A guide to help you be a better, or at least less frazzled, parent.
A is for Artsy Adventures
You know their masterpieces are just as good (better?) than, say, that all-black untitled “art” that hangs in MoMA (it’s not far from the all-white one). So if you’d like to encourage your young artists’ creative talents (but prefer they express themselves on surfaces other than your new silk wallcovering), outsource their artistic education and adventures to:
CLAY ART CENTER OF WESTCHESTER
40 Beech St., Port Chester
Hands-on pottery and ceramics classes for ages 6-12 and teens.
THE RYE ARTS CENTER
51 Milton Rd., Rye (914) 967-0700; www.ryeartscenter.org
A treasure trove of creative classes and workshops including cartooning, digital photography, sculpture, painting and drawing, etc., in a cozy old house.
WESTCHESTER ART WORKSHOP
Westchester County Center
196 Central Ave., White Plains (914) 606-7500
27 N. Division St., Peekskill (914) 606-7300
Classes in ceramics, cartooning, animation, mixed media, etc., for kids 6-15, taught by professional artists in fully equipped studios.
B is for Brain-Boosting Books, Toys, and Games
If little Philomena is not quite hooked on phonics, and Alex is still anxious about adding and subtracting (or if you’re just tired of tripping over weapon-toting action figures, bratty little Bratz, and Barbie’s stilettos), extract them from the Xbox and head over here to get a jump on the Ivy League track (can we spell “pressure?”):
45 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale
(914) 725-7201; www.scholastic.com
This 5,000-plus-square-foot, must-be-seen-to-be-believed “retail-
entertainment destination” also offers a full schedule of free author readings, character visits, and story-times.
60 S. Broadway, White Plains
(914) 682-ABCD; www.educationalwarehouse.com
Lots of educational games, books, tapes, CDs, and DVDs, plus school and crafts supplies for teachers and students.
22A Main St., Hastings-on-Hudson (914) 478-2501
A cozy shop with an excellent selection of multi-cultural literature (everything from board books to novels) in Spanish, Italian, Japanese, French, and German. Plus, story-times and author visits.
C is for (Ultra) Cool Clothing
Attention all personal shoppers/funding sources (i.e., moms) with ultra-fussy fashionista teen and ’tween clients: here’s where to fill that maddening gap between Gap Kids and haute couture:
157 Katonah Ave., Katonah (914) 232-8082
Newly enlarged, and chock full of must-have brands like Juicy and Solo.
13 Rye Ridge Plz., Rye Brook
41 S. Moger Ave., Mount Kisco
Trendy-type moms can do some damage here, too (if their clients/offspring will permit them).
5 Boniface Cir.,
Same “trendy mom” description as above.
NEW YORK DOLLS
32 Main St., Mount Kisco
Fun, high-end fashions by ABS, Betsey Johnson, Annette Lepore, Yaya, and more.
D is for Dance
Is there a future Laker girl, Alvin Ailey star, or Dancing with the Stars contestant pirouetting around your playroom? Parents of both serious classical dance students and kids who just want to get down and boogie recommend:
CENTRAL PARK DANCE
450 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale (914) 723-2940
Classes in everything from aerobics to ballet to tap. Check out its on-site
boutique of hard-to-hunt down
dance, exercise, gymnastics, and
CITY CENTER DANCE
236 East Post Rd., White Plains
Directed by Dina Giordano, a Purchase College grad, performer, and assistant coach of the Westchester Wildfire Dance Team, this studio is known for its jazz, hip-hop, and tap instruction.
273 Halstead Ave.
206 Oakridge Commons
Founded 17 years ago by professional dancer Joe Antony Cavise, it offers professional instruction in all movement disciplines.
E is for Etiquette
Some of us would be thrilled to have our little heathens, ahem, youngsters, master asking for something without shrieking, banging, or falling on the floor kicking wildly (“Can’t you say please, please?”). Others are looking to instruct their future CEOs and socialites on the finer points of dining on, say, escargots and making polite dinner-party chit-chat. Either way, you are cordially invited to let these experts teach your kids to mind their manners:
MANNERS FOR CHILDREN,
THE ETIQUETTE ADVANTAGE
New Rochelle (914) 738-2398
Five-week courses ($53+), Saturday etiquette luncheons ($95 for three hours), and private lessons ($100 for two hours) offered at various locations.
(914) 844-1068 www.establishyourselfny.com
Trained at the Protocol School of Washington, Leonard offers group classes (a three-hour session for up to six students: approximately $150+ per person) and private sessions (three two-and-one-half hour sessions for one or two kids: $400-$1,000 per child).
F is for Fencing
En garde! What could Zorro, the Three Musketeers, and your young athlete have in common? Try fencing (“physical chess”), one of the hottest sports around, at one of the top training facilities in the tri-state area:
FENCING ACADEMY OF WESTCHESTER (FAW)
40 Saw Mill River Rd. Hawthorne
Students fence in local, national, and international competitions, on Ivy League teams—or just for fun.
G is for Great Gifts To Grow On
Whoa, baby! Looking for the perfect present to welcome a new wee one into the world or bring a smile to the face of a big sibling? This charming boutique is one of our favorite sources for exquisite gifts for newborns through toddler. Particularly noteworthy: a super selection of personalized items—everything from bibs to blankets—and made-to-order book and accessory gift baskets.
1903 Palmer Ave., Larchmont
(914) 833-8650; www.classicbabyshop.com
Grandma alert—the place to find something extra-special for those extra-special grand-
children of yours.
H is for Horseback Riding
Raising a rider? If he’s outgrown the carnival pony ride circuit, get him up and into the saddle at one of these stables offering excellent instruction for junior equestrians:
FOX HILL FARMS
204 Old Sleepy Hollow Rd., Pleasantville
(914) 769-9813; www.foxhillfarms.com
Private instruction (one-half hour for $50; $100 for one hour) and group classes ($65 for one hour with up to six kids) conducted in outdoor and indoor rings.
42 June Rd., North Salem
Private lessons (one-half hour for $60) and group classes ($60 for one hour, maximum four children) offered.
I is for Instant Info
Newly launched by the United Way: one free call to “211” from a landline will connect you to a real live human being trained to make informed referrals to all health and human services in the county and surrounding regions, including mental health support groups, intervention services, local schools, food and shelter assistance ser-vices, rent assistance, and other social services. Program this into your speed dial:
The Hudson Valley Regional Call Center
366 Central Park Ave, White Plains
From 7 am to 7 pm daily.
J is for Junior Chess Champs
Want your little prodigy to master strategies for checkmate, not Grand Theft Auto? This 15-year-old children’s chess club is open to students in grades 1 to 6 from beginners to nationally ranked competitors. Check out:
NATIONAL SCHOLASTIC CHESS
Westchester Chess Center
Girls Scout House
10 Wayside La., Scarsdale
(914) 683-5322; www.nscfchess.org
Meets Saturday mornings and offers chess
problem-solving, fun games, competitive play, and lectures. Registration: $100 per child.
K is for Keyboarding
No kid can survive without knowing his way around a keyboard (and IM-ing skills don’t count). TheLnews: typing isn’t taught in school anymore. The J news: thanks to popular parent demand, it is here:
Imagine Tomorrow Classes
At Keyboard Kids
44 Purchase St., Rye
At Kids Tech Interactive Learning Center
Mount Tom Rd., New Rochelle
158 Summerfield St., Scarsdale
(914) 472-7210; www.imaginetomorrow.com
$295 for eight one-hour small group classes.
L is for Language Study
Say Buongiorno, Bonjour, Buenos Dias, or Guten Tag, to making learning a second language fun. Parents who’d rather hear “I’m bored” or “I need more money” in a different language (one they preferably can’t possibly understand) will want to check out:
THE LANGUAGE EXCHANGE
83 N. Greeley Ave., Chappaqua
Private and group classes in more than 18 languages taught by native-speaking professional teachers.
LA PIAZZA DI CAROLINA
“L’Angolo dei Bambini” (The Children’s Corner)
116 Alta Vista Dr., Crestwood
Students learn Italian through stories, playing games, singing songs, and making art. Weekly one-hour classes for kids through 5th grade: $425 per semester.
THE LITTLE LANGUAGE LEAGUE
22 Purdy Ave., Rye
Using the fundamentals of Montessori philosophy, students 6 months to age 10 (up to age 3 with parent or caregiver) are taught French, Spanish, Italian, and German through art, music, and
M is for Music Making
Your kids love Haydn, not hip-hop, and are moved by Brahms, not Britney: music to nearly every mother’s and father’s ears. Parents of musicians-in-the-making,
AMADEUS CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC
201 King St., Chappaqua
382 Cantitoe St., Bedford
Wainwright House, 260 Stuyvesant Ave., Rye
HOFF-BARTHELSON MUSIC SCHOOL
25 School La., Scarsdale
(914) 723-1169; www.hbms.org
MUSIC CONSERVATORY OF
216 Central Ave., White Plains
(914) 761-3900; www.musicconservatory.org
And if the thought of yet another round of “The Wheels on the Bus” makes you want to throw yourself under one, you and your little ones will love:
MUSIC FOR AARDVARKS
AND OTHER MAMMALS
157 Larchmont Ave., Larchmont
(914) 834-3383; www.aardvarksrocks.com
An ultra-hip kids music class alternative for ages 4 months to Pre-K featuring original rock, blues, and folk-influenced music and movement.
N is for Nutritious Noshing
Here’s some sobering food for thought: 16 percent of kids ages 7 to 19 are overweight. Want yours to develop healthier eating habits? These registered dietitians and certified dietitian nutritionists, also moms, can help:
LISA ELLIS, MS, RD, CDN
1301 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck
TRACIE DALESSANDRO, MS, RD, CSN
2 Peapond La., Briarcliff Manor
O is for Organization
Is your child, family, or household drowning in a sea of permission slips, homework assignments, and team practice schedules? Not to worry. Program this number into your PDA (if you can find it under all that clutter):
OH, SO ORGANIZED!
(914) 271-5673; www.ohsoorganized.com
The title on owner Linda Samuels’s business card says it all: “Organizing Maniac.”
P is for Parties
Gymnastics, pottery painting, and bowling bashes are just so last century. But even the most jaded juni