You are investing a lot of time and money into this Kindermusik experience. I fully believe it IS and will be worthwhile. I will do my BEST on my part, and from experience, I have recognized that there are a few things parents can do that really will enhance your experiences, and make the music and learning come alive in the heart and mind of your child.
Be aware, on the first day your child will be adjusting to a new environment, and their MOST important job, according to their brain, is exploring, whether physically, or cognitively. Since they are unfamiliar with the songs and activities, they do not have something to relate it to, and may not seem interested. BUT you will see the process of music work wonders during the next few weeks, especially if you implement these ideas.
1. When in class, truly be tuned into your child and assist them to participate in their own way.
Observe to identify their initial reactions and knowledge. Maybe they already know the song, maybe they like moving in a different way than I suggest. Maybe you know some way that the song or activity relates to something they already know, so talk to them and help them make that connection. A child learns best if they can build on knowledge they already have, or onto something that really interests them.
Encourage your child to participate in their own way. If they are just watching, you can talk to them about what is catching their attention, or you may want to gently “start” their arms in the desired movement, then let go and let them continue. If your child has a strong need to move, just move around with them, and encourage them to use their arms, or body, in a way that works with the activity. If a child is forced to sit in a lap when they need to move – their body switches into a survival mode that prevents them from learning anything. Since each child is unique in their development and learning style, I expect to see a variety of ways that children participate in the class. It is not required to do the activity “like Ms. Debbie” or “like everyone else”. You, as their learning partner, will help adapt each activity work for your child. As the educator, I will offer LOTS of ideas on how to do this. ASK, if you need more ideas.
Have FUN with the activity yourself – SING, MOVE, EXPLORE, and PLAY! Your child will LOVE to see you interacting this way, and will catch your enthusiasm, and is more likely to follow your example and learn from the experience.
As your child becomes more familiar with the structure of the class, you may encourage participation that may be more a part of the structured activity, but be flexible and FOLLOW the child’s lead.
2. Help reduce distractions for your child and others.
Keep your personal materials out of sight and reach of your child, including snacks, toys, shoes, etc. as they can be distracting to both your own child, as well as others.
Being thirsty can be distracting for a child, so you may want to bring a non-spill cup for your child just in case they are thirsty. There is a sink for water in the classroom.
Keep your conversations with other adults to quick comments, even if you mention “I’ve got a great story to tell you after class.” Longer conversations can be very distracting to your child, to other children and parents, and to the flow of the class.
3. Be respectful of others and the location, and help your child learn to do so.
Encourage your child to interact with others in a gentle and fair way. Please STOP them them if they are being too rough, and help them learn more effective ways to interact. If they would like something that someone else has, encourage them to offer a TRADE for something else that is interesting. Encourage them to put their own toys away, and let other children put THEIR own toys away.
Help your child treat the instruments, props, and the property of the location in a gentle and safe way. And if your family enjoys the waiting room, please make sure to put away the toys before leaving. And please take messy diapers with you as you leave the building to help keep the studio smelling nice.
4. Extend your experiences at home, and during your family routines.
LISTEN to your MUSIC regularly. The more the child is familiar with the music, the more they engaged they will be with the activities in class, and the more they will learn from these experiences. Many families like to listen to the CD in the car, others like to make it a morning ritual. What works best for you?
Infuse the activities into daily routines. Watch for your child’s spontaneous initiations for music activities at home. Recognize them with your enthusiastic response, and offer to join in, and expand on the activities. You may also want to have a set time during the day for just a few of the current activities, or their FAVORITES. See how you can fit in a particular activity to your regular schedule.
Place this units books and instruments in your home so they are easy to see and use regularly. Each item is specifically designed to be age appropriate and engaging, and as they are used more at home, it lays a foundation of information that allows them to expand on the ideas with their creativity, and makes a huge difference on their participation in class. When we introduce a book in class, make sure to READ the children’s book regularly throughout the week and find new ways to make it fun.
READ the weekly email from class ! In these email, I may recommend the songs and activities on specific pages in your Home Activity Book (Our Time & Imagine That!). I will review some of the musical and developmental concepts that we brought up in class (or that I may have forgotten to bring up in class :/) Sometimes, I’ll add links to articles on my website, or links to other resources providing relevant enhancements.
5. TALK to your educator, and/or Debbie
TALK to me (or Marianne) about everything that comes to mind that concerns your child, the class… pretty much anything, but especially questions or concerns.. We LOVE to hear your stories of musical incidents. AND, even more importantly, we really want to help you make this the best experience for you and your child. If you feel that it doesn’t seem to be working that way – PLEASE talk to us, and we will help come up with solutions to anything that is getting in the way of letting the magic of music work.