|Preparing your child for the classroom – what role does |
If you have been to an un-parented Kindermusik class you have probably heard it time and time again. Our classes help prepare your little ones for their next step into a traditional classroom environment. As reassuring and empowering those words are for our grownups to hear, we’ve been asked time and time again.
How exactly do we achieve this through our Kindermusik program?
As an educator, I have heard concern from parents that their kids won’t listen or can’t sit still at home or in their preschool classes. I hear you, and I’m here to reassure you that this is totally normal!
Let’s take a look (or a read), and venture into five ways that make our program unique, and how exactly we achieve a solid foundation that will help your preschooler in all of their academic endeavors.
1. Encourages Creative Thinking: Children have the innate need to move around and explore their environments as they learn. It is natural for them to lose interest quickly and need to move from one object of interest to the next. Our classes are structured to do just this! We encourage our little ones to move around and discover new ways to learn. This may be most apparent when we are trying out different ways to play our instruments or a fan favourite -scarves- in class. For a parent, or an outside observer, when a child is rolling a shaker across the floor during instrument play, or pretending they are a superhero with a scarf trailing behind them in class our immediate reaction may be that they are playing with their props incorrectly and this needs to be corrected in order for them to play the “right” way. But to me, it is -quite literally- music to my ears. Movement encourages coordination, teaches spacial awareness, and helps clarify important concepts like cause and effect, gravity and perhaps most importantly, fosters creativity!
This brings me to my next -and arguably most invaluable- point, confidence!
2. Builds Confidence: When your child explores and discovers different ways to play in class, it shows that they are confident enough in their surroundings to take risks and try new things. This is instilling them with a sense of confidence to really take control of their own learning which is irreplaceable when they are going to be in a class with children they may have never met before. To be able to take control over their learning means that in the classroom they will have the confidence to put their hand up and ask the teacher for help when they don’t understand a question. They will have the autonomy to try and answer a question in a different way when that answer doesn’t seem quite right.
Essentially in our classroom, your little ones are learning how to learn.
It is such a powerful tool for us to create a safe environment where our children feel this confidence to take accountability for their own learning. But how exactly are we achieving this?
3. Establishes Routines: One of the most vital ways this is accomplished is by creating a routine so your child knows what to expect coming into every Kindermusik class. We sing our hello and goodbye song which has become a cornerstone of enjoyment for both our little ones and grownups alike, time for dancing, some instrument play and focused listening. Coming to an un-parented class is oftentimes daunting for our little ones for the first time. However, with the routine and structure, we create, and the consistency of you bringing your children to class every week, we create a controlled ‘mini classroom’, where they feel safe, confident, and excited to learn. And the best part? It doesn’t even feel like learning!
If I still don’t have you convinced, our program is also enriched with research-based early childhood learning skills.
4. Develops Early Literacy: When your little ones are learning to read basic notes or their “ta’s and ti ti’s” what they are doing is training the tracking in their eyes to move smoothly from left to right, putting them a step ahead of the game when it comes to reading. Learning that symbols can represent sounds and words helpful for… you guessed it, reading! Kicking a ball? Learning coordination and early childhood math -geometry. Singing? Developing their vocal cords and range for self-expression. Telling stories or pretend play? Learning about creativity which helps in problem-solving. Our program is chock-full of essential early childhood development skills for our little ones…
And the best part? It doesn’t even feel like learning!
Our Kindermusik program has been expertly and meticulously planned with your little one’s specific developmental stage as the focal point of reference. We know your busy and inquisitive preschooler isn’t content to sit still; they may have trouble focusing if too long is spent on the same activity. Children need engagement and a wide variety of activities to keep their interest and stimulate their ever-growing brains.
We want children not to just survive school, but to thrive! That is why we teach our program in such a deliberate, yet engaging and simulating way. A way that encompasses what’s most important to the child – play!
You may have come to your first Kindermusik class and been surprised when you were asked to remove yours and your child’s foot-ware. I usually give the short answer “Barefoot is Best”, and you may have wondered “but…why?
Well – let me tell you!
Feet are among the most sensory-rich parts of the human body. When a child is barefoot, his tactile pathways feel the surface below his feet while proprioceptors (sensors that provide information about joint angle, muscle length, and muscle tension, which is integrated to give information about the position of the limb in space) in the foot join and muscles respond to the pressure exerted upon them. As your child experiences slight variations in the surface he walks on, his muscle strength, spatial orientation, balance and coordination is developed.
Just as stimulating your child’s basic senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste) is important, it’s also just as important to support his proprioceptive and vestubular senses (the sensory system that provides the leading contribution to the sense of balance and spatial orientation for the purpose of coordinating movement with balance). One of the simplest ways to motivate proprioceptive and vestibular development is to let young children run barefoot as much as possible!
To me, knowledge is power. Knowing how important it is to develop my children’s spacial awareness, balance and coordination, how can I not give them as many opportunities for this kind of growth as possible? And what simpler way than to let those little feet run free, especially during our Kindermusik class!
That being said, there are some occasions where bare feet are not safe, or hygienic (playgrounds, public places, etc), and for those times there are soft shoes. Flexible leather shoes that are thin enough that they can still feel the ground under their feet and allow free movement of the joints and muscles (unlike hard soled shoes).
So the next time you’re adding to your shoes to the pile outside our classroom door – remember we only ever want what is BEST for you and your child, and “barefoot is best!”.
Do you have a toddler learning to exercise their growing independence? Are you tired of having a stand off with your child when asking them to do the simplest of tasks? Maybe it’s a little more serious like trying to teach them the importance of using their manners. Are you tired of fighting what feels like a losing battle?
It is exhausting as a parent when your child is constantly testing and pushing boundaries. I know your frustration. I have two very strong willed and determined children of my own. I know how draining it can be to ask “Please don’t jump on the couch.. you will fall and hurt yourself” for the hundredth time… especially when the 20th, 45th,76th and 99th time your child DID fall off and sobbed their little heart out.
So, how do I cope without completely losing my mind and complete control of my home and children? It’s actually not all that complicated… I use two small words, and these make ALL the difference in how smoothly our day goes.
It’s not complicated. It’s not hard for your child to understand. Plus, you’re helping your child learn about how the real world works (cause & effect) and preparing them with the right thought process they need to be successful and stay out of trouble as big kids and adolescents.
Here’s an example from our home I use when my children are fighting me about finishing their supper.
“Z, If you don’t finish your food then you won’t be allowed dessert”
Or maybe you have a problem with pleases and thank you’s
“If you don’t say please A, then I won’t give it to you”
Pretty easy right? Wrong. This is a simple formula, but it is not easy. In order for “if…then” to be successful with your child you have to stick to your guns. That means, no whining, crying, fit throwing, begging, pleading or manipulation will sway you. You need to stay strong and stand your ground. This is the only way your little one will know that you mean business. If you use “if…then..” you need to follow through with THEN. Every. Single. Time.
The other very important thing to remember when using this tactic is not to throw bonuses into the mix that otherwise wouldn’t normally fly. For example my husband used to make the mistake like this..
“If you eat your food Z, then I’ll give you a candy.”
What’s wrong with that you ask? Well.. you’re REWARDING behaviour that SHOULD be expected. This will give your child the wrong idea. In their brilliant little working minds it sounds something like this,
“If I do as I’m told/asked then I’ll get reward/treat/bonus”.
This probably means your child isn’t necessarily doing what you ask because they know you’re consistently consistent and have earned their trust and respect. They’re doing this for the carrot you dangled in front of their nose and nothing more.
How will you know you’ve over done it? It won’t work. You’ll ask your kiddie to brush their teeth so that you can read stories together and they’ll brush their teeth and ask for the reward you offered earlier and expect it. And when you decline, the next time they’re asked to do something they’ll answer “and will I get a candy, or can I watch tv, or whatever sweet treat you tried to bribe them with”.
So make sure to choose your words wisely. Decide with your partner in advance what your rules are. Make sure you are on the same page so there is no undermining and complete consistency. Chose “then’s” that are valuable to your little one, and in line with your boundaries. If you don’t, then this will not work. See what I did there?
Why is this such a valuable parenting tool? First, you’ll see results. You’ll regain some of that control that you’ve lost during these never ending power-struggles. I’m not talking CONTROLLING. I’m talking, your position as a wiser, more experienced, concerned, guardian/parent. You’re ship will not run smoothly if it’s steered by a little gremlin.
Secondly, you’re teaching them about real life. For every action there is a reaction. It’s cause and affect like I mentioned earlier. If your child disobeys the classroom rules, then they’ll be sent to the principle. If they don’t look both ways before crossing the street, then they could be injured. If they steal, then they’ll face serious consequences from the law. That’s just life. You want to make sure that you teach them these expectations now so that later down the road they’re able to understand and appreciate that their actions or their lack of action will have real consequences.
If you follow my advice, then I promise you’ll have much fewer sulky pouty stand off’s, and more time for beautiful memory making. Don’t just take my word (as a mother and teacher) for it. Try it! You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Fall Kindermusik Unit Descriptions
Sing & Play (0-24mths):
On the Town with Bear: Lace up your sneakers, we’re going out on the town! We’ll visit the city and see what there is to see, then head out into the country to check that out, too. Bear will, of course, go over the mountain and go a-yodeling, too. Come along! You never know what adventures you’ll have when you’re On the Town with Bear.
Rain or Shine: Up the water spout, down the water spout, you know how it goes. We’ll use our senses to explore the sights, sounds, and sensations of sunny days, rainy days, and all the other kinds of days in between. Rain or Shine, we’ll be ready for some fun!
Rhyme Around Town: Up and at ’em! Use your imaginations to hit the town: Down the street to the bake shop, the cobbler’s shop, the grocery store, and even the doctor’s office as we move, move, move through our busy, busy day. Then, back home again to relax and get ready for bed. Come along for a great adventure as we Rhyme Around Town!
How Do You Feel?: Young children can go from happy to upset—and then back again—in the blink of an eye! Understanding and managing emotions can be complicated, but using music to explore and identify different feelings, their causes, and how we can navigate them, can be useful (and even fun)! Come explore all the answers to How Do You Feel?
Jumping Beans: Jump into the rhythms of Latin America with Jumping Beans! Peek into the rain forest, explore expressive movement, investigate quarter notes and quarter rests, sing and learn some words and phrases in Spanish, and—you guessed it—jump, jump, jump!
Drums, Drums, Drums: Just say the word drum and any child within earshotwill be ready to play. In Drums, Drums, Drums, we’ll focus on drums, percussion instruments, and music from Africa and South America as we clap, tap, move, play, and echo different rhythms. You’ll learn to recognize the sights and sounds of many different drums, play a drum, and get up and move your body to the rhythms, too!
Music is Everywhere: We live in a world of sound. As students listen, learn and explore the sounds that are all around us, they are developing important skills that can enhance all later learning.
Ready Steady Go!: Musical beats can be fast or slow. They make our toes feel like tapping and our feet feel like marching. A steady beat is the underlying pulse of music and of life. Mixing up the steady beat into smaller and longer pieces give us music! We will listen to the rhythm of weather in the rain and wind and even a musical storm composed by Beethoven in his Pastoral Symphony.
INTRODUCING: YOUNG CHILD
Watch your child’s confidence soar as we encourage their creativity in a warm and supportive musical environment. Not only will your child’s musical passion be ignited, but they’ll learn the foundation of music that will help them in their future pursuit of musical training AND in their future academic success. We meet your child where they are at and with a little guidance and a bit of practice help them to flourish in social situations. We want to help you raise your child to be a critical thinker, an uninhibited creator, and a self aware and self confident individual!
There’s something beautiful about snuggling up on the sofa with your little and reading a book together – especially when you’re able to get from cover to cover in one sitting!
Like that one time your monkey waddled up with book in hand, climbed into your lap with complete expectation that you’ll drop everything your doing and spend the next 10 minutes flipping through the pages – forwards and backwards – with them.
Maybe you’re not quite there yet…your child isn’t too excited about books, because well, let’s face it…you aren’t too excited about reading to them! Struggling to hold their attention long enough to get from cover to cover is not on your list of to-do’s. I mean – it’s a 5 page book – you shouldn’t need to put a book mark in it! But now that you know just how important reading regularly to your child is; for their development, and for future literacy, you cannot NOT do it. After all, you want to give your baby the very best chance at succeeding – now and in the future!
So to help you turn this task into a pleasure, I’ve compiled a list of 8 different ways you can share books with your child that will help you both grow to love reading. So that you can look forward to story time, like I do, and make it a priority in your day. Follow these simple steps and you’ll bond with your child over books, in a way you never have!
- Make Sharing Books Part Of Your Every Day Routine
I like to read stories with my girls before their naps and again before bed. It’s a great way to calm them down and get in one last snuggle before the end of the day.
- Talk or Sing About the Pictures
Don’t worry about reading the words too much as young children can only sit for a story for a few minutes . Make up a silly song or talk about what you can see in the pictures.
- Let Your Child Turn the Pages
This skill is great for hand-eye coordination and the perfect excise to practice cross-lateral movement (crossing the mid-line of the body) that helps strengthen the connection between the two hemispheres of the brain. Who knew?!
- Make the Story Come Alive
Create expressive voices for the story characters and use your facial expression and body language to tell the story – always make the animals sound to go with the picture and encourage them to imitate.
- Ask Questions About the Story. Let your Child Ask Questions Too!
Use the story to engage in conversation and to talk about familiar activities, people and objects .
- Make It Personal
Talk about your own family, pets, or community when you are reading about others in a story. They’ll get a deeper appreciate for the book if they can relate it to their own life.
- Have Fun!
Your child can learn from you that books are fun, which is an important ingredient in learning to read.
- Make it a Learning Experience
Books are a great way to teach your little one about shapes, colours, numbers and letters too! And if they’re ready a bit older, you can help them identify feelings & right and wrong.
There you have it! 8 simple ways to share and enjoy books with your little one. Did you find that you did some of these already? Maybe you learned a new way to share books that you hadn’t thought to try? Share with me what you took away from this post in the comments below!
Keep on reading!
- Early language and literacy (reading and writing) development begins in the first three years of life and is closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with books and stories.
- The interactions that young children have with books and with the adults in their lives are the building blocks for language, reading and writing development.
- Parents (THAT’S YOU!) are the most important reading role models for their children.
- Teaches your baby about communication
- Introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colours and shapes in a fun and engaging way
- Builds listening, memory and vocabulary skills
- Gives your baby’s information about the world around them
- Strengthens your bond with your baby
You can see how important reading to your baby is! If you’re not really sure where to start and need a little guidance to make reading to your baby more enjoyable for both of you, I highly suggest you take a look at my blog post, 8 Ways To Share Books With Your Child.
Look Ma! I’ve got hands!
I love the complete wonder and awe in babies chubby little faces when they discover something new. When babies are this small, their growth and development is happening at such a rapid pace – don’t blink because you might miss something! – even thought I see them every week the changes that can occur over just six days is unbelievable. In just one week I have witnessed these little ones can go from size a to size b, from blank stares to ear to ear smiles, from sheepish grins to full on laugher, from supporting their head during tummy time to rolling over, from rolling to sitting, from sitting to scooting, from scooting to crawling. It’s amazing to be able to see these changes and a blessing to be a part of and share these milestones with them and their parents.
My Cuddle & Bounce parents and their littlies – the youngest just 4 months! – have been exploring a unit the past two weeks called Zoom Baby.
Bumpity-bump, zippity-zoom, babies are on the go! This unit is packed with move-move-movement, as spatial development takes focus. Activities that explore distance, speed, placement, reaching, dancing, rocking, bouncing, and wheels-on-the-bus-ing all get baby zoom-zoom-zooming to big smiles in Zoom Baby
Lesson Focus: Spatial Development
Do you remember learning how to drive a car? Figuring out how to safely merge into traffic, learning the speed at which to take a curve, and even mastering (gulp!) parallel parking took practice. You needed to familiarize yourself with the size and shape of your vehicle, learn how to maneuver all the necessary gadgets, and figure out how close you car was to others on the road. Driving takes a keen sense of spatial awareness, which is the ability to be mindful of where you are in space and to see two or more objects in relation to each other and to yourself.
Although they’re not quite ready for their driver’s licenses, babies are learning how to “drive” and control their bodies—and spatial awareness helps them, too. In Kindermusik, when you hold your baby “up in the sky” during the circle dance, interact with moving balls during tummy time, or even play with scarves, your baby gains a greater understanding of his body and how it relates to his surroundings. The music and movement activities in Kindermusik help your child begin to grasp concepts such as distance, speed, placement (over, under, behind, etc.), and even gravity.
Everyday Connection: Space (Awareness) Cadet. Any time of the day is the perfect time to support your child’s spatial development. So go ahead, put on some music, pick up your baby, and ziggy-zag-zoom around the house, down the street, or in front of the bathroom mirror. Your little space cadet will gain a greater sense of spatial awareness while you get a few extra snuggles and smiles!
Scaffolding: you probably already use it, and if you don’t this is why you should
Last week we began a new unit in our Wiggle & Grow family style class…
Up and at ’em! Use your imaginations to hit the town: Down the street to the bake shop, the cobbler’s shop, the grocery store, and even the doctor’s office as we move, move, move through our busy, busy day. Then, back home again to relax and get ready for bed. Come along for a great adventure as we Rhyme Around Town!
The Lesson Focus: Scaffolding
There is a reason children start out small. Changing diapers and clothes, strapping into car seats, bathing, feeding, sleeping (or not): It’s a steep learning curve for new parents! For many of us, it’s only after surviving that first year (and every year thereafter) that we recognize how much we learned along the way—and how much more we have to learn! Thankfully, as we built on what the previous day taught us, we gained both skills and confidence in our parenting abilities.
In Kindermusik, we call this learning process “scaffolding.” Each week in class, we support your child’s learning by building on your child’s current abilities and nourishing your unique role as your child’s first and best teacher. Scaffolding involves varying the level of the activity depending upon your child’s responses. So each week in class scaffolding occurs when you investigate together different ways to mend shoes with rhythm sticks or when you follow your child’s lead on how to move with the scarves on “Sing a Ling” while also offering suggestions based on the original idea. As with your parenting abilities, scaffolding helps your child gain both skills and confidence.
Everyday Connection: “Scaffolding Seuss.” During story time, use scaffolding techniques to support your child’s emerging literacy skills. Point out letters, label the pictures, ask your child questions about what is happening or encourage your child to make predictions about what will happen next or even after the book ends. Let your child’s responses guide the conversation.
Our Friday classes began this week and boy where they a lot of fun!
At 9:15am we started with a baby class “Cuddle & Bounce” with the unit “Rise & Shine”. This unit explores routines and rituals, their importance and significance in your little one’s life. We “woke” baby up with a sweet poem and gentile massage, explored scarves, and shakers, moved to music and even did a choreographed dance to the well known song “You Are My Sunshine”. At the end of the class the babies were exhausted. Yawning and ready for a nap after such an active, musical class!
This classes was followed by a preschooler class “Move & Groove”. Our unit this month called “Jumping Beans” explores music, instruments, and places in Latin America. We crept through the rainforest and discovered different animals lurking about. We learned about played beats and silent beats and clapped, tapped and moved to the musical patter “ta-ta-ta-(rest)”. We even had some free dance while shaking mini maracas where we tamed an elephant she had earlier discovered while walking through the rainforest. Just before class ended we called the parents in for a sharing time where the children got to show/tell and teach what they learned in class. We finished with a goodbye song, and as the families were leaving, I over-heard that our imaginary elephant was going home with one of our students!
What will we discover and learn next? Only one way to find out…
Rise & Shine: Good morning, sunshine–it’s time to start the day! Babies can start their days in all kinds of ways–but the way to make the most of mornings is to establish a loving, predictable, day-to-day pattern. Up and at ’em routines and rituals take center stage in Rise & Shine!
Jump into the rhythms of Latin America with Jumping Beans! Peek into the rain forest, explore expressive movement, investigate quarter notes and quarter rests, sing and learn some words and phrases in Spanish, and—you guessed it—jump, jump, jump!
This year I am starting my program with two classes; Cuddle & Bounce (0-12months) and Wiggle & Grow Family (0-7years). Both run for 45 minutes every Saturday beginning tomorrow, January 18th, and are sure to be the talk of week!
Below are the class units for this “month” (January 18th – February 8th) along with a brief unit description.
Good morning, sunshine–it’s time to start the day! Babies can start their days in all kinds of ways–but the way to make the most of mornings is to establish a loving, predictable, day-to-day pattern. Up and at ’em routines and rituals take center stage in Rise & Shine!
At this amazing developmental moment, children are basking in the comfort and security of caregivers, but also testing the boundaries of independence. Suddenly able to do so many new things on their own, they are still dependent for so many others. In Marvelous Me, you’ll move your bodies, use your senses, and explore friendship, favorite things, and feeling good about all the amazing things you can do.
I am so excited and encouraged about the amount of interest from local families that I have already received. With the first classes beginning tomorrow, and the Family class FILLED, I just know this year is going to be a great one! I cannot express how thrilled I am to be able to offer this wonderful music and movement program to my community. I am so thankful to you, your enrolments, friendships, and support. I would not be where I am today with out you.
I am looking forward to starting 2014 off in the best way possible, with music!
Our 2014-15 School-Year Session begins September 2nd and runs through June 27th.