LAS CRUCES – The name may sound strange, but the classes are simple and can have a healthy, positive impact on your child’s life.
Zumbini, created by Zumba and BabyFirst, is an early childhood education program for children ages 0-4 that incorporates 45 minutes of singing, dancing, playing and exploring musical instruments. The concept was brought to Las Cruces by Licensed Zumbini Instructor Amy Richards, who said many people have never heard of it.
“They think it’s Zumba with your baby,” said Richards, who started offering Zumbini classes in Las Cruces in spring 2018.
Richards said she found the program intriguing and saw a need for it in the area.
“I have three kids of my own and had done various mommy-and-me-type classes, and when I saw this, I just fell in love with the program and wish that I’d had it when my kids were little, so I jumped in and was like, ‘We’ve got to have it here, because we didn’t,’” Richards said.
Richards offers the classes in 6- to 10-week quarterly sessions throughout the year. The upcoming seven-week spring session will begin on April 3, with classes offered at 10:45 a.m. Wednesdays at Las Cruces Jazzercise, 3217 El Camino Real. A six-week spring session will begin on April 6, with classes offered at 10:15 a.m. Saturdays at Morning Star Methodist Church, 2941 Morning Star Drive.
Richards said Zumbini encourages learning and development at a critical age range.
“We use music to teach versus teaching music, so it’s about having this fun, great experience, but we’re working on the social development of the kids, their emotional development, their cognitive development, as well as their fine and gross motor skills,” Richards said.
Zumbini classes, which are mixed age, include a variety of activities, such as playing with scarves, beating on drums and dancing to different songs. When families join the program, they receive a Zumbini bundle, which includes a plush doll, a story and songbook, a CD featuring the music in class, a code to download the Zumbini app and gain access to the music digitally, as well as access to the Zumbini Time episodes that run on BabyFirst television.
“Every quarter, we move onto different songs and different materials so that keeps the music fresh,” Richards said. “It’s very multicultural. It’s all original music.”
The program is also an opportunity for children and their caregivers to bond.
“It’s so easy at home to get distracted by the dishwasher that needs to be emptied or the chores that need to be done,” Richards said. “Here, they don’t have the distractions. I tell them ‘OK, you can take one or two pictures, but phones need to be off. This is your time with (your children).’ So, they are getting that emotional bonding with their parent.”
Richards said some families will stay in the program for two or three years because each time their child is at a different developmental stage and will continue to pick up on new things in class.
Las Crucen Stephanie Sutter has been taking her daughter Mackenzie Miller, now 17 months old, to Zumbini classes for a year, since Richards first began offering the program locally.
“It’s so fun. At each stage they do different things,” Sutter said. “So, when she was little, it was nice early exposure and that kind of hands-on mommy and me time — no distractions. And now, she’s walking and exploring and interacting with other families and other children, so I see a value at each stage that she’s going through.”
Richards said families interested in doing a trial class before registering for a full session can attend a demo class. Upcoming demo classes will be offered on March 23, 27 and 30. Trial classes are $10, which is applied toward a family’s session if they decide to register.
Isabel Lozano, whose son Jayden, 3, is currently enrolled in Richards’ winter session, said attending a trial class was one of the reasons she decided to get her son involved in Zumbini.
“We had a little trial that he tried out, and he liked it,” Lozano said. “It took him a little while to get used to it, but I could see him smiling and he liked it, so we decided to put him in (the classes).”
Since enrolling her son in the program, Lozano said she can already tell a difference in his social skills.
“He’s a little bit more outgoing, I would say. He used to be on my lap like all the time, so right now he’s all over the place,” Lozano said.
“It’s a good learning experience, and they get to meet with other kids and get to dance around and do a lot of different things,” she added.
Alexia Severson may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.