Karlene is a passionate Kid Expert who strives to encourage young minds to EXPLORE, CREATE, and IMAGINE through the arts. She teaches Dance Fusion at The Montessori Schools where she uses movement and dance to fuel a positive sense of play. Karlene has also been trained through New York licensed dog therapy programs to incorporate Animal Assisted Education into her work with children. Along with her dog, Teddy, she has worked with people of all ages in reading programs, rehabilitation centers, and schools for children with autism to help improve self-esteem, cognitive skills, and overall physical and mental wellness. Read on to learn more about Karlene and her fluffy friend, Teddy.
Hi Karlene! Where are you from and what brought you to NYC?
Hi! I grew up right outside of Omaha, Nebraska and moved to New York in the winter of 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater from Nebraska Wesleyan University. I moved to the city to use both degrees and to pursue a career in the performing arts.
What is your experience with kids? Can you share a favorite story?
I’ve spent time working with kids on a creative level throughout my time as an undergraduate, introducing a variety of ages to theater through our university programs. And, in working more closely with Curated Care, I have found such a joy in continuing to instill that passion for the arts in the kids that I work with. Some of my favorite memories from this past year, have been seeing kids break out into dance and belt out their favorite songs. It shows just how powerful music and theater are in child development and how creativity and education are linked.
When you’re booked for a Curated Care session, what is your process in terms of preparation/items you bring? What kinds of activities do you incorporate into sessions?
When I book with a family, the first thing I notice is the age of the child or children. With younger ages I tend to come ready to play through music, dance, creative games, and reading, while with older ages I bring along activities for us to work with so that they can jump into a new creative project. These activities include: bracelet making, slime chemistry lessons, baking, crafting, and storytelling.
You bring your adorable pup Teddy along for Animal Assisted Activities! Can you tell us a little more about what a session with you and Teddy is like?
I could not be more excited to talk about Teddy and his work with me. We have been certified through the Good Dog Foundation of New York to work with a variety of ages in animal assisted education, which combines animal therapy with learning and cognitive development. One such example is from a session at a Brooklyn library where students were brought in to read with Teddy to ease their nerves with reading out loud. In a typical session, I would bring Teddy along to introduce him to children who may have had a fear of dogs in the past, wanted to get used to having a dog in their house, or wanted to be able to spend time with an animal as they can’t have dogs in their apartments. This is an exciting time where Teddy and I can work together to bring joy to the children we visit, all while helping them learn and grow.
What do you think is the benefit in hiring a Kid Expert vs a traditional babysitter?
When you hire a Kid Expert, you aren’t just hiring someone to watch your children, you are giving your children an opportunity to be surrounded creatively with actors, musicians, singers, writers, and dancers who will introduce your child to the arts!
What are you most looking forward to in the future?
My greatest dream is to create art in the city and to inspire others around me. And, in working with children, teaching dance classes, performing at events, and working closely in animal therapy with Teddy, I have found a new passion guiding me towards the latter goal/achievement: to inspire.
It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to work with children and to inspire them to always continue dancing, singing, and to always reach for their own big dreams.
You can message or book Karlene for an enriching babysitting session here.