Hel-lo Everybody!

The last few weeks we’ve had some great opportunities to observe some interesting things in our classes, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about our role as adults for them.

Daylight savings

The 10 a.m. class was definitely an interesting class.  Both kids and parents were clearly affected by the time change, which was very interesting.  The kids tended to run around more, and the parents tended to chase them.

New Faces, new classes

Whenever we add a new class or new families join our classes this changes the dynamics for everyone involved – it is a fun and exciting time!

Things to remember to keep your kids growing in all respects.

When change happens in a class – regardless of how the children may be reacting – we have to do our best to maintain focus on our activities in class.  Here are some observations and tips to remember:

  1. Remember that whatever they are doing, they are aware of what you are doing.  So, if you aren’t engaging musically on a consistent basis, you should not be surprised that they don’t either.  This goes for music at home, too.  Remember: your Music class represents .001% of the week, so you can’t just come in for a happy-fun-time and expect them to have the benefits to their development without daily music at home.
  2. Share kids.  Other families’ children recognize you as part of a musical community, and if they approach you or want to interact with you, feel free.  We encourage you to do so as enthusiastically with your other children, as you would with your own, watching equally for their musical behaviours (which you can point out to their parents).  Obviously, we need to respect other parents’ level of comfort with their kids, but we trust that you will be fine.  Your child can do the same with other parents, but may also come back to you more frequently when they see how much fun you are having making music with another kid!
  3. If you feel the need to chase your child down (try to resist, unless it is for safety), make the effort to make your retrieval a musical one.  You can take the lead – and should – on a musical behaviour in class that you think will engage your child.  This is totally fine.  With older, or more active children, you may need to do this more frequently.  Your teachers are always doing their best to not only balance the activities for the different age-groups, but also to try to give age-appropriate attention the more active kids where possible, when necessary.
  4. Remember to show them, not do for them.  Agitating your children’s limbs is not helpful to encouraging them to joining the activity.  There may be a number of reasons why they aren’t doing it.  They could be trying to understand something new, not like what everyone is doing, figuring it out mentally before trying it, or other things.  If you want to encourage them, move yourself into a position where they can see what you are doing.  If you feel like you need to do more, you can transmit the beat physically to them by gentle tapping, which will help them to internalize and build an understanding of what they are hearing and seeing.  When children are exposed to something new, they need to ‘decode’ the information to make sense of it.
  5. Follow your child’s lead and see if you can steer them into musical activities.  In class or at home, following your child’s behavioural example can be very empowering to them, by giving them some power over the course of the activity.  If you can engage in those activities by incorporating anything musical (such as singing answers to their questions, or behaving musically in your play with them), you’ll be encouraging them to do the same.  For instance, maybe they have an imaginary party with their stuffed animals – you can get them to lead a class, sing a lullaby, or use a song in any way you like.
  6. Have you cracked your book open recently?  Your music book has a lot of resources in it for you and your child.  You can do suggested activities by song, you can colour the pictures, and you can encourage pre-literacy attachment to print by exposing your child to the book.
  7. When was the last time you watched the parent DVD?  This parent video has a lot of very important information about your role as a parent from the founders of Music Together, Ken and Lili.  If you don’t have it anymore, and would like to see it, please just let us know, and we’ll give you a fresh one!

There are no wrong answers (except ‘sit down’)

Your children are discovering through observation and modelling (by you and other adults that are important to them as well as older children), and learning by doing on that basis.

If they don’t do the thing that you expect, that is perfectly normal.  Sit-down models of education are unlikely to be effective until much later (even 7-8 years old).  As adults we tend to embrace the sit-down and sit-still mentality, but young children are exploding physiologically and neurologically, so we have to get into and remember that head-space to make sure that we give them the time and examples that they need to develop while maintaining their natural curiosities and energy.

They’re growing and getting older – but we’re not (sort-of)

The most common ‘problem’ we face in a Music Together class is that while the kids get older, parents expect their classroom behaviours to remain the same.  It is important to understand that this isn’t the case.  The age ranges we have in Music Together classes change incredibly fast (consider the physical and neurological complexities of going from crawling to walking from one week to the next), and become increasingly complex (and fun!).

You must, must, must, evolve your musical behaviours with your child, or they will disconnect from the activity, and its potential benefits.  If they get more physical, so should you (while maintaining safety…).  If they sing more loudly, so should you (you should anyway!).  If they want to do a certain kind of behaviour in class that doesn’t conform, feel free to do what they are doing.  These little folks have a lot of personality from the get-go, and some days will be more or less engaged for them, but we need to maintain our energy and commitment to making music so they see what a vital activity it is!

If we fail to engage our children at an age-appropriate level (and this goes for outside of music class, as well), then we may inadvertently be limiting them.

We remain important

Even as children transition to the classroom model of learning, our behaviours remain a huge factor – which is why we are so quick to blame our parents for ruining our lives ;-) – so it is worth remembering how our singing is just the start of many excellent behaviours we can consistently model throughout their childhood.