Tag Archives: kids

Feb 06, 2017

Dental Excellence opened in December at Del Ray Towers located at 3116 Mt Vernon Ave. and I was happy to have the opportunity to see their office and meet with Dr. Sheri Salartash. Neighbors are invited to stop in to meet the staff and get a tour. Dr. Salartash is an experienced dentist that wanted to open her practice in a progressive neighborhood that would embrace her desire to practice holistic dentistry. The office provides comprehensive dental care such as ortodontics, cosmetic dentistry, soft tissue laser, implants, whitening along with preventative care. Dental Excellence offers treatment for children as young as newborn that are tongue tied who may be experiencing problems feeding.  Dental treatment begins for children as young as two. Dr Salartash notes that screenings for traditional & physiological orthodontics screens should start early since between the ages of 2-6 years is a critical age. For orthodontics, Dr Salrtash notes that the best results happen before the age of 12.

Dr Salartash focuses on patient education and wants patients to understand and work as part of the team to create a treatment plan. There are numerous things that set this dentist office apart. I was impressed with the massaging chairs, parafin wax treatment, heated blankets, digital x-rays (that are low dose), mercury free dentistry, advanced water filter system and use of NU Calm instead of nitrus. Bonus points go out to this office for having changing stations in the restrooms! Dr Salartash is a new mom herself and dedicated to providing a full range of services to make your child and your experience positive.

The office sees patients on Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri. and Saturday and they work will all major PPOs. They also offer yearly membership rates that include 6 month cleanings and discounts on treatments for those that do not have dental insurance. Be sure to check them out soon!

Jan 17, 2016

I recently connected with Cynthia Raso with The Smithsonian Early Enrichment (SEEC). With two locations in the National Museum of Natural History and one in the National Museum of American History, SEEC serves children aged two months – six years. Priority enrollment is given to Smithsonian and federal employees. For more information about enrollment in SEEC  visit http://www.si.edu/seec/enrollment
SEEC also offers part-time and weekend programs that are open to the general public. Family workshops run Saturdays and serve infants – Kindergarten. They also host the Smithsonian Early Explorers for caretakers and children aged 18 months – 2 years. This program meets twice-a-week for the duration of the school year.
I asked Cynthia to write a guest blog post introducing parents to the experience of visiting The Smithsonian Museums with you kids, toddlers and babies. Below is Cynthia’s post. We hope you find it helpful.

The animals at the Natural History Museum or airplanes at the National Air and Space Museum might feel like safe bets with your infant or toddler, but many parents opt out of visiting other venues like the National Gallery of Art or the Hirshhorn. In reality though, any museum is ripe with possibilities for your young child.
At the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC), we have been teaching infants, toddlers and preschoolers in museums and in the community for over 25 years. In fact if you are out on the Mall, chances are you will run into one of our classes seated before an object engaged in meaningful learning and of course, fun. Part of SEEC’s mission is to support and encourage families to take advantage of the Smithsonian’s amazing resources, so here are a few helpful hints that will make your next family museum visit a successful one!

Mother and daughter attend an infant workshop exploring the sense of touch at the National Museum of Natural History

Mother and daughter attend an infant workshop exploring the sense of touch at the National Museum of Natural History

Infants and Toddlers: Practical Advice
Talk To Them – Go ahead, don’t be shy! They will benefit from hearing you form sentences and use new vocabulary. Describe what you see, tell them what you like, ask questions – even the ones to which you don’t know the answer.
Observe Them – Non-verbal children understand more than you often realize. Watch your child. Where are they pointing? What captures their attention? At what are they looking? Respond to their body language by acknowledging what they show interest in, moving in for a closer look or providing more information.

One of the SEEC infant classes visit the Hirshhorn.

One of the SEEC infant classes visit the Hirshhorn.

Sing – Children love music and they respond to it. Use a favorite song and find a corresponding object. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a great book that matches children’s songs with artworks. Alternatively, parents can choose a familiar tune and make up your own words. I did this on a recent visit to the National Museum of African Art when we looked at Jacob Lawrence’s Blind Musician. The theme of this infant class was sound, so when we got to the museum we sang:
To the tune of Frere Jacques
Where are my fingers, where are my fingers.
Here they are, here they are.
Strumming the strings, strumming the strings
Hear the notes, hear the notes.

After we sang the song, each child got the opportunity to touch the strings on a small, toy guitar, which leads me to the next helpful hint.

Bring an Object or a Book –Bring an object with you! It can be a toy or something real. For example, use a flower while looking at Monet or take a favorite train to the Transportation Hall at the American History Museum. If you are feeling ambitious, make a sensory bottle out of a small water bottle (hint: hot glue the top closed for safety). Sensory bottles can correspond to museum objects in countless ways. Take a look at our Pinterest page for some ideas.
Maybe you have one of those fun board books with touchable pages featuring different animal skins. Consider bringing something like that to the Mammal Hall at the Natural History Museum. Recently I visited the iconic Andy Warhol featuring Marilyn Monroe’s lips at the Hirshhorn and paired it with The Big-Wide Mouthed Frog by Ana Martin Larranaga.
Follow Your Child’s Interest – Whether they are dinosaur fanatics or fascinated with the falling leaves, plan visits to museums where you can expand topics in which they are already interested. Most museums feature their collections on-line so it’s easy to find out what is on display before your visit.
Use your Imagination – Perhaps you are visiting Henry the Elephant at Natural History – get into character and pretend to feed him. I have made pretend jam with pictures, a pot and a wooden spoon at the American History Museum while looking at canning jars. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Timing – Museum visits do not have to last a whole day. The length of the visit should be appropriate for your child – you know when they are done. Bring a snack and take a break outside for some fresh air and exercise if you want the day to last a little longer. Consider the galleries like your local library. You should visit over and over to discover all that they have to offer.

3.Father and daughter walk over to the National Gallery together during one of our weekend workshops, providing a break before the museum visit.

Father and daughter walk over to the National Gallery together during one of our weekend workshops, providing a break before the museum visit.

PreK and Elementary
Using similar tactics with PreK and elementary children will work. But now that they are a little older you can begin to add additional components to enrich the experience.
Sketch – Most galleries allow you to bring pencils, so take a small book and do some careful looking. Encourage your child to interpret the artwork in their own way and not recreate exactly what they see. Otherwise, they can feel easily frustrated.

A quiet moment at the Hirshhorn while a child sketches.

A quiet moment at the Hirshhorn while a child sketches.

Write a Story – Behind every museum object is a good story. Make up your own narrative and then go home and research the real story. Let your child narrate the story to you or if they are ready, have them do the writing.
Conservation – Pose open-ended questions like: How do you think the man in the painting feels? or, I wonder what it felt like to live during this time. Or suggest theories about how something works or what something might have used for. Listen to your child’s answers and share your own thoughts. Notice how your perspectives might change during the course of the conversation. Be willing to admit when you don’t know something and look at it as an opportunity to search together for the answer.

Take It Home
Extend your museum visit to your home by posting photos you took of your visit. Think about how you might introduce content from the visit into their play and other daily activities. A day at the art museum can be followed by an afternoon playing with some paint. A visit to botanic gardens can be extended by providing little one some dirt, bucket and a shovel with which to play. A visit to an aquarium or zoo might offer chances for water play in a table or big Tupperware.

Infants spin paint in a salad spinner.

Infants spin paint in a salad spinner.

Cynthia Raso, Mother and Manager of Community Outreach at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center

Cynthia Raso teaching a PreK class at the Hirshhorn

Cynthia Raso teaching a PreK class at the Hirshhorn


Sep 22, 2015

Going to the dentist has a bit of a stigma, perhaps. Add a small child to that equation and you may start to feel your anxiety climb. I know that I used to dread taking my kids on their first dental visits. We would have to load the kids up, drive way outside of my beloved Del Ray community and hike across town to get to a dentist that “got” kids. Fast forward six years and now there’s a Pediatric dentist office in Old Town that REALLY gets kids! Parker-Gray Pediatric Dental Care opened last year and has really made waves in our community.

Parker-Gray-Pediatrics-Hi-Res-6Every parent knows that the key to a successful dental visit for your kid is to make the child comfortable. Parker-Gray gets an A+ for creating an office space that can capture kids’ imaginations and help them to feel at ease. Their waiting room has play equipment for younger kids, video games for older kids and a massive fish tank to mesmerize the kid in all of us! The treatment area is just as inspired and has a sink area where kids can train to master good oral hygiene and get educational support for good dental health. The staff provides compassionate and complete oral care and is trained to work with the youngest of clients.

Dr V and Dr S The owners, Dr. Heidi Vatanka & Dr. Kesha Stephenson met while studying dentistry at Howard University and a shared passion for pediatric dentistry led them to open Parker-Gray Pediatric Dental Care.  (You may recognize Heidi as a mom that lives in Del Ray!)

Parker-Gray-Pediatrics-Hi-Res-4The office is located in a great historic building that was originally constructed in 1944 as a school for African-American children during WWII. You may recognize the newly remodeled building as you go through Old Town; it’s at 224 N. Fayette St. situated right next to a park – how perfect for a Pediatric Dentistry!

The office provides routine and emergency dental care and plans to expand into orthodontic care in the future. The staff recommends that children be brought in for their first dental visit as soon as their teeth start to come in. Call today at 703-519-7275 and set up your appointment to tour their practice. I promise you’ll be glad you did!

May 01, 2015

I recently visited Local Motion Studio on the edge of Old Town and had the opportunity to meet with the owner Sara Lavan and Children’s Program Director Kylie Murray. I was so excited to hear about all the amazing programs that Local Motion Studio has for children and even more excited to hear about the hot summer programs that they have coming up. Local Motion has two types of programs that they are offering children. The first is a basic weekly class set up and the second is an enrichment camp structure where the children attend for the week.

group pic wild thingsTheir ‘basic’ classes are anything but basic when it comes to the curriculum. Their creative movement class starts at age 2 (with a caregiver) and goes up to age 6. In this youngest class kids learn movement and parents take away concepts to use at home. This class also helps kids learn the structure and organization of being in a class. Local Motion Studio brings in multi-cultural music, incorporates props, collaboration and coordination into all of their movement classes.  The 5-6 year olds even begin to create choreography. Also as part of their ‘basic’ summer classes, they will be offering kids’ yoga. Children will learn in a fun environment basic mindfulness, breathing, meditation and asana. All of their summer classes are set up so that you can choose to attend for 8, 9 or 10 weeks. It’s all about flexibility for your summer schedule!

The enrichment camps offered this summer at Local Motion are week-long camps that are two hours in length each day and will enrich your child’s body and mind. The Yoga Camp incorporates storytelling, creative movement, games and crafts. This class is offered for children ages 5-7. Dance Camp brings together exploration of movement and culminates in an original performance piece they will perform at the end of the week. This camp is for children going into grades 1st through 4th. The Theater Camp will be the final camp offered during the summer and it is also for children going into grades 1st through 4th. In theater camp children will work together in games, improvisational theater, playwriting and movement activities to help develop basic theater skills of vocal expression, storytelling and character creation.

You can sign up today on Local Motion Studio’s website!

Leaping boy