Yoga can help tame tantrums!
Try these fun poses with your toddler…
Get on your hands and knees,knees should be hip-width apart;hands shoulder-width apart,a
few inches in front of shoulders. Lift hips up and back and straighten legs coming into down dog.
Raise one leg and hold for three counts;lower leg and switch sides. Then lift one leg and hop
with the other kicking like a donkey,then switch sides. This helps to release pent up energy
Squat on the ground with knees open to the side and place your hands on the ground. Come
up a bit and rest your elbows on your thighs. Straighten your legs and sway your arms to the
right…now swing to the left. Make gorilla sounds and travel around the room pretending it’s a
jungle! Feel free to pound on your chest as well This is an extremely playful pose and can
change a sad toddler into a very happy one.
Reach arms up to the sky with straight elbows. Jump with two feet to a lunge (right knee bent
and back leg straight),then jump and switch legs. Saying “I am strong”,“I am peaceful”,and “I
am determined”. This will be sure to turn your toddler’s mood around.
Partner Tree Pose:
Grab a hold of your toddler’s hands. Place the sole of your right foot onto your inner thigh or calf
but not on your knee. Hop up and down on your left foot several times and then switch to the
other side. Perhaps hop in a circle and sing “Ring around the lotus,a pocketful of poses,ashes,
ashes,we all fall down.” Come to the ground gently and enjoy a nice laugh with your toddler
When you have finished playing yoga give each other a nice big hug. Your toddler will feel
supported by you. Tell them it is ok to feel frustrated sometimes but remind them it is within
their power to turn their mood around. Be sure to check out Ginger Merritt’s Mommy and Me
classes at Abundant Learning Sundays this fall 11:45am-12:30pm at Abundant Learning. For
Namaste and Have a Great Day!
Thirty years ago,Warren Frank,my father-in-law had the incredible foresight and luck to purchase a shell of a building at Plymouth St. and Bridge St. in Dumbo,Brooklyn. After working all day long,he would work on the building at night – dry walling,sandblasting,cement pouring,etc usually by himself. Today I find myself in that same building looking out my windows at several new apartments and town houses about to be ready for inhabitants. My quiet vacant block,except for dog walkers and the sporadic Vinegar Hill House patrons is about to become much more vibrant with activity. There are a lot,lot,lot of new residences coming on line in DUMBO. That means a lot,lot,lot of new neighbors,many of them young families.
As I am a learning specialist in private practice,recently married,and beginning to think of children,I naturally looked around my neighborhood asking,where would I send my kids for enrichment activities or for extra help if they needed it? What activities do I want them exposed to based on what I know about the brain and the mind? What type of teachers and instructors do I want leading my kids? Where will all these new families take their kids? Why can’t Dumbo and Vinegar Hill have an awesome,kick-ass place for families to learn and grow,intellectually,physically,and emotionally? There is definitely a need –I think we can.
Two years ago,I began to day dream about a place that I called The Dumbo Community Center. In my mind,it is a place where families will confidently and enthusiastically bring their children for classes such as art,yoga,chess,reading,math,etc. It will be a one-stop shop full of experts including neuropsychologists,speech therapists,occupational therapists alongside expert teachers and clinicians.
Around the same time I began subletting space in Dumbo for my private tutoring practice. After losing my space twice in two years,my husband encouraged me to find space and lease it,because he wasn’t going to move all my materials again! I quickly found very reasonable space in the 68 Jay building,but it was too big for me. Then the light bulb went off –The Dumbo Community Center! (Or at least its beta site.) And then the ball kept rolling.
We can’t use “The Dumbo Community Center” yet name for several red tape reasons,so I choose the name Abundant Learning. Incredibly,already our space hosts many classes that match the original daydream – chess,art,yoga,and tutoring. However,our very popular class,Dumbo Einsteins came to us from a maverick mom in the neighborhood with an advanced three year old. She was found herself lackluster when exploring classes for her son in the neighborhood,and in the outlying neighborhoods as well. She challenged me to create a class for advanced tots,who already know their abc’s and 123’s. And voila – the Dumbo Einsteins class was born. We extended our expertise in what we already knew and created a class exposing tots to chess,literacy,and art while cementing their letters,numbers,and social skills. Sometimes dreams have nice surprises,and the Dumbo Einsteins class proves it.
With our first summer semester under our belt,and fall about to begin,I look backwards remembering how things unfolded to get me here with Abundant Learning. But,I continue to look forward with a vision of a larger,more comprehensive center meant to service the community with the highest caliber of expertise and wisdom.
Just take 5 minutes out of your day…
On the subway or on the subway platform:
Close your eyes and begin to connect with your breath…concentrate on the inhales and exhales and begin to deepen your breath. Ladies –make sure your purse is secure of course. Plant your feet on the floor and be as still as you possibly can. It’s so hard to feel grounded when you are in transition from one place to the next so this will be an added extra challenge if you can come back to your center here and you will in turn feel the benefits. Do it before work,before that crucial meeting,before a blind date,whatever…people will notice a difference when you walk through the door.
Sit down on the floor or on your bed if it is against a wall. Bring your bottom up to the wall and then gently swing your feet up toward the ceiling. Legs should be straight. You can also bring the soles of the feet together with your knees out to the side. You can also alternate between these two postures as well,but do it slowly and not forcefully at all. Close your eyes for 5 minutes and connect with your breath. When you release your legs from the wall,notice how light your legs feel. The weight has been lifted. Notice how relaxed you are. Do this for yourself once a day. It’s best after a long day of walking around. I also hear it is great for getting rid of varicose veins
It’s just 5 minutes…you can do it! Do it for yourself. Be good to yourself and the universe will be good to you too
Here’s to Abundance in your life!
*Be sure to check out Ginger’s “Zen Mommy,Buddha Baby”class on Mondays (3:15-4:15pm) at Abundant Learning!
Why PS 307?
Many years ago,long before I even knew what DUMBO was,Yolanda Blue,the art teacher at PS 307 was looking for parking in the neighborhood and saw that my father-in-law,Warren Frank had put out some large spools as garbage. Yolanda,being the master recycler asked if she could have them for her students. He asked her if she ever needed more. And of course Yolanda said yes! They exchanged information and periodically he donated his “garbage” to her and her classes,which they then would turn into wonderful pieces of art – sometimes selling at auction to raise money for the school.
My mother-in-law,Bonnie Frank,also an artist,encouraged me to “do something for those kids at PS 307”. Unfortunately,she lost a 3 year battle with breast cancer. The last year of her life,I only had a few students,so I could make time to help her out. And then she was gone. In that space that was now available to me,I created Abundant Learning,and immediately reached out to Yolanda. She has helped me to make Abundant Learning a gallery for her students’ art and she will also lead classes over the summer.
PS 307 is basically in my backyard. They have so much talent,and I have walls for them to show it off. Ms. Blue and her students have touched my heart in deep and meaningful ways. I can’t wait to see what we create together in the future!
Stools and other fine art from PS 307
As promised,here as some answers to tricky education questions from our friend,Dr. Paul Yellin.
What would you do if you had a pre-school aged child who did not get into any of the private schools
Pre-K programs and is wait listed at the local public school because there are only 6 spots open?
Having been there with our own child,not having a school for the coming year can be extremely
stressful. Parents may be feeling a great urgency to get their child into someplace,anyplace —and may
already be working with someone who has expertise in school placement. However,it will be important
to understand the reasons for the non-acceptance because those will be important in identifying the
right school,as well as in clarifying whether or not there are underlying problems or concerns that
should be investigated and addressed – keeping in mind that not getting into a particular school does
not necessarily indicate there is anything “wrong” with your child.
First,ask if you are at a total loss when you try to understand what happened,or if you did have some
prior concerns. Is there someone with some expertise that knows your child who can offer additional
perspective? Seek feedback from those who have worked with or observed your child in a variety
of settings. While admissions staff may be reluctant to disclose reasons for non-acceptance,it is still
worth inquiring,or having someone else do so on your behalf. If you do have serious concerns,you
should first discuss them with your pediatrician and then decide whether additional consultation or
assessment may be required. Often,further consultation or a formal,independent evaluation can be
helpful in clarifying the situation and possible options. Once you feel that you have enough information
to understand your child’s needs and the possible options for meeting them,you will be better able to
target those schools most likely to accept your child and best suited to meet his or her needs.
What do you do when your private school child who scored very well on the ERB for Kindergarten but is
struggling to keep up with first grade academics?
It would be important to schedule an early meeting with your child’s teacher to better understand
the nature of the problem. Is she struggling with following the classroom routine? Are the problems
confined to specific academic areas or are they more generalized? What is the teacher’s level of
concern? Could he or she suggest some strategies that you could work on at home to help fill any
gaps? Since many of the early skills depend on repetition and building automaticity,children often
respond well to strategies that can be implemented at home. Quite often,your child’s teacher will
have an opinion about whether this is something that is likely to resolve with additional strategies at
home or at school. However,if the problems persist,or if your child is showing signs of frustration,
reluctance to go to school,or meltdowns at the end of the day,you should discuss these concerns with
your pediatrician and/or seek consultation with someone who has expertise in academic problems in
What would you do if you had a 5th grader at what is considered one of the best private special ed
school in the city,but don’t feel like he’s being targeted or remediated much? He’s been tested,tutored,
remediated from outsiders as well. He’s just kinda getting by with low level output,and his learning is
I would begin by making sure that the student has a highly-specific understanding of his or her learning
profile. What are areas of strength? What are specific challenges? What does it all mean in terms of
academic performance? Does she really appreciate her own strengths,and is she able to leverage them
to experience success? Is he identifying affinities and incorporating them into their academic work?
Do they understand what each part of their learning plan is for—what are the goals of the tutoring,
Look for ways to jumpstart his engagement,effort,and output so he can have some short-term victories
by implementing strategies and approaches that may have broader value.
What would you do if you had a high school teenager with dyslexia,who has been through years of
successful tutoring and remediation,and currently thriving in a Brooklyn private school? He wants to go
to college but does not have extended time accommodations for the SAT or ACT?
I would pursue three parallel paths:1) continuing to attempt to secure accommodations while
developing 2) contingency plans in case the denial is not overturned and 3) considering all of your
1. Assuming that you have requested accommodations but have been rejected,it is possible to appeal
that decision. We have had success appealing accommodation denials for the SAT,,ACT,and even
medical board examinations. The first step is to look at the denial letter to determine the reason why
your request was denied. You should also review exactly what was submitted with the initial request
for accommodations. I would then take this information to the clinician that assessed your child and
decide whether to consider additional testing or whether it would be possible to re-frame the previous
results and academic history to adequately demonstrate the presence of a qualifying disability. It
may be necessary to seek a second opinion from another clinician. On occasion,consultation with an
attorney with expertise in this field can be helpful when developing a strategy for appeal.
2. In the event that your child must take these examinations without extended time,it will be important
for him or her to learn specific study and test taking strategies to help compensate for their dyslexia.
Since the diagnosis of dyslexia includes a broad group of different kinds of reading problems,strategies
will need to be individualized based on your child’s specific strengths and weaknesses. It will be
important to work with a tutor who understands learning differences,specifically dyslexia,as well as
preparation techniques for the specific examination.
3. The list of colleges that do not require either SAT or ACT tests for application consideration is
extensive and growing at a rapid pace. You should visit the website Fairtest.org. I strongly recommend
the award winning book Life After High School-A Guide for Children with Disabilities and Their Families
written by Susan Yellin and Christina Cacioppo Bertsch. In full disclosure,Susan is my wife – however,
the book has been very well received and just won a bronze medal from the Independent Publishers
Association for best Education book of the year.
Follow-up with Dr. Yellin
The expert lecture with Dr. Yellin was wonderful! He gave a lovely,intimate presentation in our center in March. If you have a chance to hear him,go! In fact,you could probably get him to come speak at your school or parent group. He is my go to guy when faced questions about learning and the brain. Here’s my summary of the night:
Dr. Yellin trained as a neonatologist,but when his own child starting experiencing difficulties in school his career took an unexpected turn. He and his wife took their son to many many professionals in New York to get some answers as to why their son was having such a struggle. One of Dr. Yellin’s goals is to create a conceptual framework and vocabulary that can cross barriers between professionals,educators,and families so we can use a common language to describe what is really happening in the brain when something is working or not working. This can be especially helpful for teachers. Paul showed us a few slides of typical test items found on state wide standardized tests. He illuminated for us how the way a question is written and the information is presented taxes different types of skills,sometimes having little or nothing to do with the actual content.
When Dr. Yellin first meets students he demystifies (tells it straight) their situation by informing the client that no brain is perfect and how different weaknesses in the brain can affect school work. In school,assignments given to students require skills like reading and writing. Those skills can be broken down into smaller sub-skills for example reading can be broken into scanning,decoding,and comprehension. These sub-skills can be broken down further to what the Yellin Center for Mind,Brain,and Education (http://www.yellincenter.com) calls Neurodevelopmental Constructs including:attention,higher order cognition,language,memory,neuromotor function,social cognition,spatial ordering,and temporal-sequential ordering. So many things could go wrong when simply trying to read or write,it’s a wonder that so many students barely notice all that’s going on inside their heads. He talked a little about Processing Controls which are ways of regulating the use of incoming information. For example Saliency Determination helps us to know important facts vs irrelevant facts. While reading (and listening) we constantly have to decide if facts are part of the big picture,and or if we should just disregard the minutia. He also discussed how stress and sleep deprivation lead to poor school performance.
What would you do???
I asked Dr. Yellin the following questions:
Look forward to the answers to the following questions………………
What would you do if you had a pre-school aged child who did not get into any of the private schools Pre-K programs and is wait listed at the local public school because there are only 6 spots open?
What do you do when your private school child who scored very well on the ERB for Kindergarten but is struggling to keep up with first grade academics?
What would you do if you had a 5th grader at what is considered the best private special ed school in the city,but don’t feel like he’s being targeted or remediated much? He’s been tested,tutored,remediated from outsiders as well. He’s just kinda getting by with low level output,and his learning is somewhat flat.
What would you do if you had a high school teenager with dyslexia,who has been through years of successful tutoring and remediation,and currently thriving in a Brooklyn private school. He wants to go to college but does not have extended time accommodations for the SAT or ACT?
This week,Abundant Learning founder Liz Craynon-Frank shares a few thoughts about how Abundant Learning came about:
The Abundant Learning center is literally a dream come true. It was just an idea that kept coming back over and over again. With patience,tenacity,trust and good intentions Abundant Learning is becoming a fulfillment of my desire to create a community minded learning center for children and adults.
In 2007,right when I was graduating from grad school,I left a very structured corporate job at Lindamood Bell Learning Processes after 9 years to start a private practice. Lindamood Bell taught me so much about literacy,learning,learning disabilities,diagnostics,motivation,and educational research. It was a very intense continuous training that was priceless. I am grateful to Lindamood Bell for propelling me fully into a field and career that truly makes me happy. I am very lucky to tutor young people.
I moved to Dumbo,Brooklyn several years ago and opened a small tutoring practice. Retail space being what it is in the neighborhood;I found it very easy to attain a small office at a great price by subletting. However,subletting lends itself to a transitional existence. After losing my space twice in two years,I decided that perhaps I should sign a multi year lease and lay down roots. My husband,who also works in Dumbo,made the decision easier. We weren’t going anywhere for a long time. Additionally,for about a year I have been daydreaming and imagining about the “Dumbo Community Center”. This is a place where the growing number of families in the neighborhood will go to learn about learning. Families will be able to connect with professionals for questions about learning styles,solutions,and enrichment. So,what should I do? Where will I want my kids to be?
When I saw the great space in 68 Jay directly across from Dumbo Gymnastics and the Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club,I knew I had to take it and move forward. The path from an idea to a physical entity has been challenging,educational,exhilarating,and affirming. We have grown from my practice to my practice plus lectures,clubs,test prep and soon summer programs. It feels great to be on this path where I continue to learn about the field of learning and about myself. One day Abundant Learning will be in a much larger space,on the ground level,serving the community with expert advice,and instruction. Until then we will work in our cozy space,cultivating ourselves and sharing with our students.