You are investing a lot of time and money into a Kindermusik experience, and it will be worthwhile.
There are a few things you 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.
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. Although, you may want to bring a non-spill cup of water for your child just in case they are thirsty. Being thirsty can be distracting as well.
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 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.
Help your child treat the instruments, props, and the property of the location in a gentle and safe way.
4. Extend your experiences at home, and during your family routines.
LISTEN to your CD 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.
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.
5. TALK to your educator, and/or Debbie if you have ANY questions or concerns.
TALK to me (or AMY) about everything that comes to mind that concerns your child. 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.