A Froggy Kiss is such a Special Thing

Froggy Kiss, Froggy Kiss is such a special thing,
For when you kiss a froggy’s nose, (s)he begins to sing !
Ribbit, Ribbit, Croak
There are many wonderful things that can happen in these few words when a parent and child face each other, looking into each others eyes, chant the rhyme with a loving voice, and take turns placing a kiss on the other person’s nose so they can “sing” their froggy song.
In the Our Time program this spring, we are enjoying many such rhymes and songs about animals in our Fiddle Dee Dee unit.  And through these activities, children can process so many wonderful developmental aspects.
Eye contact and kisses on the nose takes a silly rhyme and makes it loving, bonding experience.  Add several repetitions over the next few weeks, and it will become a loving ritual, a way for children to initiate an interaction that they know will result in fun and good feelings.  Loving rituals like this can also help “pick them up” when they are feeling low.
One of my favorite books that I highly recommend for parents of young children is “I Love You Rituals” written by Becky Bailey. It is the art of taking something simple, and making it something special in order to connect with our children on such a deeper level.  We do this in Kindermusik classes all the time.  But I can say for sure that my parenting, and my teaching have all improved once this beautiful perspective became apparent to me.
Secondly, imitating animal sounds gives us a great way to explore using our voices in so many new ways.  All of this vocal play is excellent exercise for the lips, mouth, tongue, and lungs that leads toward better articulation (talking more clearly and understandably).
Your child may or may not be open to enjoying vocal play in front of a group, like during a Kindermusik class.  Having others around may inhibit their interest in using their voice.  That is OK – performance is not required.  Keep in mind, this age group is still so closely connected to the mother that they still consider themselves, somewhat, the same person, but are learning about their separateness.  As parents, we can use this phenomenon constructively by giving choices.
Vocal play can be approached in many different ways:
Parents can offer to take turns and be first.  ”Let’s take turns, I’ll go first, then you go next, and we’ll keep going.”  At home, this can even lead to extended play with MATCHING the sounds that the first person makes, trying out different frog sounds.
In class, if a child is reluctant, a parent can ask, “Do you want to make the froggy sound, or shall I, or should we do it together,  A good rule of thumb is to offer three positive choices.  Notice that not doing it is not listed as an option.  If they don’t answer, parents will assume a positive answer. “Oh, you want ME to make the sound.” Then look in their eyes and make it as silly and fun as possible so next time they want to have that much fun.  Ask again, right away, and see if you get a different response.  These choices can also be applied to other vocal requests with others, such as saying “Thank You” to someone who has given them something.
Sometimes children are more likely to participate in the vocal play if they are able to use a prop, such as a microphone, or a puppet, or even a stuffed animal, so you will see these being used sometimes in class.  It diverts the attention to the object, rather than the “performance” of an individual, which is the perfect ploy.
Please keep in mind that the Kindermusik environment is one that is meant to be free from performance anxiety.  Ours is meant to be a process where a child feels safe in a loving environment to participate in ways that are comfortable for them, that suit their needs, and that provide options to try out new and challenging things.
So if your child is not doing exactly what the teacher requests, or if they want to do it a different way, it is not only OK, we ENCOURAGE it.  Not every child is the same.  Some children learn from observing.  Some children learn from testing all the boundaries.
There are boundaries that we must set in class, such as simply running in circles around the room.  In this case, they are telling us that their body needs to move right now, so we get up and try to redirect their energy into a different appropriate response.  For example, in this case, a parent would get up and go to the child and encourage them to jump like a frog as mom makes the froggy sound.  They may or may not make the sound, but they are engaged in the activity in their own way.  Later at home, they may get so into the froggy sounds, it may become a bit overwhelming. :)  Fact is, learning occurs when their interest is sparked, wherever, and whenever that may be.
That is truly one of the best benefits of Kindermusik, providing a stimulating environment where a parent gets to know how their child learns, and has the opportunity to help them begin to participate in a structured environment, learning to help the child adjust to meet their needs.
OK, That was a bit long winded (Ms Debbie gets that way), and a lot of generalizations based on one little rhyme.  But I hope this provides a good perspective, and OPTIONS for your parenting “toolbox” that can be used in class and at home.
Please share with us some activities that you and your child enjoy together that ends in some fun animal sounds.

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