FIRST Observe – Start where the child IS

“I See YOU!”  “Look what you are doing…”  “Wow, that looks fun, I want to try it.”  These phrases are TREASURES in a parent’s tool box.  Every child LOVES to be noticed.  How many times do you hear “Watch ME!”  Every child LOVES to be recognized for what they CAN do, or what they HAVE DONE already.  Every child feels more competent when a significant adult in their life wants to copy them.   These all start with the most important part of connecting with and teaching your child, to watch closely, OBSERVE.

OBSERVE and RECOGNIZE before

TEACHING or TRANSITIONS or PROBLEM SOLVING

Oftentimes, we as parents are in the position of giving our child directions.  Sometimes our children are exploring or learning something new, “Stack the blocks like this.”   Other times, it is due to our schedule, or daily routine. “Sarah, it is time to brush teeth, and get ready for bed.” And other times, we find them needing to solve a problem, “Let me help you.”   Many times we find it easier and faster just to quickly give directions or solve the problem ourselves.  

Aaah, but connecting and teaching take time…  and it starts with the time to observe and recognize. 

Observing starts by simply stopping and WAITING to see what they are doing, or what they will do.   It is certainly human nature to start showing examples when a new object is given to explore, or giving directions first.  Try this.  Do it like this.  But then we don’t get to observe what the child already knows, or, for that matter, what they can teach themselves.   Over 100 years ago, Maria Montessori found out, by intent observation, that given the opportunity, children are very capable of teaching themselves a great many things.  As adults, it is our responsibility to provide them that opportunity and wait to see what they can teach themselves, and to provide just enough support to help that process along.

Recognizing means that somehow we share with the child that we see and care about what they are doing, without judging them.  Sometimes this is through using our words to DESCRIBE (which supports their language skills).  “Sally, I see you tapping your rhythm sticks together end to end.”  Sometimes it may just be letting them see you COPY them.  Someone(?) said, “The best compliment someone could give you is to copy you.”  Without any words at all, the child knows that they are SEEN and RECOGNIZED.  Sometimes it may be a little of both. 

Without judgement means that we refrain from making a vague statement like “Good Job.”  Not that it is a bad thing to say, but that it is not clear what was done well, AND that it infers that the importance is on the parent’s evaluation that it was “good”.  When a parent says, “You did it !  You placed the sticks in the shape of a V !”, the child is able to take ownership of the act, and be proud of himself for doing so.  Ultimately, the child’s inner motivation is what will get her down the path to success.

A whole different benefit to these parenting skills was an eye-opening kick in the pants to me.   I had been having problems with transitions, getting my child to do what I wanted or needed them to do NEXT.  And it specifically was significant when I approached him when he was involved in an activity independently.  My son would be playing his room with his Legos, and I would come in and ask him to wash his hands for dinner.  A fairly simple request really, but it was met with reluctance and procrastination.  After reading much about parenting through Becky Bailey, I learned that my son is heavily invested in what he is doing at that moment.  It is important that I recognize the hard work in which he is engaged.  His mind is busy designing, problem solving, and creating.  Washing hands for dinner seems so insignificant in comparison to the processes currently at work in his mind.  So, it is important to take the time to start the conversation where his mind is presently.  “Wow, look what you are doing with those legos !  You have made some sort of flying machine.  I can see the wings are jutting out here and here.  Tell me more.”   OH, what a difference a few minutes of observing and recognizing can make !!!  Sharing out loud what is “on the table at the moment” allows for a winding down of the brain process, and an openess to what may be next.

This works for young children as well, even those who are unable to talk.  When they are engaged with a toy or activity, the few minute a parent takes to patiently watch, and then describe gives them WORDS to pair with what they are doing, lets them know that there is respect for their ability to focus, and that what they can do for themselves is recognized.  THIS is the starting point for teaching, ie. expanding on their current interest,  or for transitioning to another activity. 

Without getting into a lot of details, the same skills are exceedingly important when a child is faced with a challenge or a problem to solve.  Wait; watch what they will do; ask them questions to help them assess the situation effectively.  If intense emotions are observed, the best support is to allow them (or yourself) the opportunity to find a quiet place to calm down before they tackle the task of solving the problem.  ANYONE who is too emotionally distraught cannot solve problems effectively.  A chemical in the brain screams to fight or avoid – not solve.   When cooler heads prevail, approach the problem like a puzzle, allow them to, or help them describe the pieces of the issue without emotion, wait and listen, and encourage a creative list of solutions, from those based in fantasy, to those based in reality.

A parent’s time to observe and recognize helps children feel confident and competent, and eager to try more things, and more able to solve their own problems.   And it helps US, as their primary teachers, know where to start with the teaching process, and how to support their own abilities to teach themselves.   It is the beginning of the incredibly effective method of teaching called scaffolding, which we will be talking about more over time.

These parenting skills do not necessarily come naturally.  I consider myself a good parent, yet I have to continually focus to ensure that I WAIT and OBSERVE before giving directions (so hard for me at times, esp. in our busy schedule !).  Before I approach my independently engaged child, I often have to give myself a Becky Baily Pep Talk to OBSERVE and CONNECT first !   When my child is struggling with a challenge, it is hard to be patient and let them come up with the solution themselves.  It is an ongoing challenge not to blurt out “Good Job”.

BUT, EVERY TIME I do it RIGHT…  Every time I take the time to Observe and Recognize…  Every time I DESCRIBE instead of Judge…   I SEE how my children respond so well to it, and I KNOW that it is worth the continual effort.  It does get easier.  Just like learning to play an instrument, practice makes perfect.

Do you have a story to share about how observing your child FIRST made a difference?

Share the Love WEEK Gifts and Events

Share the Love Week at InTune Studios:    February 13 – 18:   Gifts, Playdates, Free Play in the open studio !

Here at InTune Studios, we LOVE what we do, sharing the joy of making music and art with children and families.  We LOVE watching the process of fine arts as it helps children blossom musically and personally.  And we love the children and families who choose to share this experience with us !  We want to SHARE our LOVE with you, and if you would SHARE your LOVE with us, I believe all of our hearts would “grow three sizes that day.”  (since we’ve been so Grinchy lately – though it’s all been in fun.)

WE LOVE KINDERMUSIK!  

With much joyful delight and anticipation, we invite you to participate in WE LOVE KINDERMUSIK Week with us during Valentine’s week, when Kindermusik educators and families around the world will join together to show, tell, and celebrate how much we all love Kindermusik and what Kindermusik means to each of us. 

Read about this international event that was launched by Kindermusk International yesterday.  And follow the conversations from around the world on Kindermusik International’s Facebook page.

We LOVE Kindermusik !

WE LOVE MUSIC and ART! 

In coordination with these events, InTune Studios is expanding on these ideas and offering even more fun for everyone in our studio !  Share your love for music and art with us.                   NEW studio #863-606-8115.

Here’s how our wonderful families can participate with us in SHARE THE LOVE Week:

SHARE THE LOVE !

  • DOWNLOAD and LISTEN to Kindermusik’s gift to everyone !  Kindermusik International is also offering a gift.  Their music site, play.kindermusik.com, is now featuring a special song for you to download free, “Love Somebody“!  Tell your friends, and they can download it too.  Share the LOVE ! 
    • More Music:  Watch my Facebook Page for more recommended songs from the website from which you might like to expand your Valentine’s Playlist !   Those who enroll in a SHARE THE LOVE Playdate will get to enjoy all these songs with Kindermusik Activities, and get a Play.Kindermusik.com Code Card to download these songs for free.
  • DISPLAY our gift to you! In every Kindermusik class and Playdate during this week, we’ll be giving out WE LOVE KINDERMUSIK window clings for your car in class. You’ll be proud to share your love for Kindermusik with these small, classy window clings – the love just goes ’round and ’round and ’round!!
  • SHARE why you love Kindermusik– Every entry will give you a chance in the drawing for prizes.
    • Comment on THIS POST, with a comment, a story, or a picture of your adorable musical children
    • Post Your Love on the Music Connections Facebook Page,  with a comment, a story, or a picture
    • Tweet Your Love :  just add #lkld and #kindermusik to your comment.  Follow my comments @debbiemondale 
    • Catch your love on Video:  create a short, quick video, on your own, or with us during Share The Love Days.
    • Complete a “Share the LOVE” Wall Art for us to hang at InTune Studios – can do during Share the Love Days.
    • All entries will be collected through the week, and the drawing for prizes will be at the end of each FREE PLAY event.
    • Prizes for online winners include Free music downloads from Play.kindermusik.com and Gift Certificates for FREE Kindermusik PLAYDATES and InTune MUSIC or ART WORKSHOPS,
    • Prizes for winners at FREE PLAY include instruments, music sets, art kits, Gift Certificates, and more.

Participate in Share the Love Days:   on Valentine’s Day, Tuesday, Feb. 14th        AND Saturday, Feb. 18th 

It is EASY to use our new All-Inclusive Sign Up Form to register for ANY of the following events!

  • Enroll for a Share the Love Kindermusik Playdate 
    • 9:30 am.  –  Babies Playdate  (only on Sat.)
    • 10:30 am. – Family Playdate (Tues. and Sat.)
    •  $15 for first child, $5 for siblings
    • Includes 45 min. of Kindermusik activities, Music from Play.Kindermusik.com, and Valentine play props 
    • Includes a “We Love Kindermusik” Window Cling to display in your car.
    • Includes ability to participate in FREE PLAY at InTune Studios !
    • Please register in advance, Pay at the door.
  • Enjoy FREE PLAY at InTune Studios !  –  FREE to all enrolled in any Kindermusik or InTune Studios programs
    • 11:30 am – 1:00 pm  – Register in advance for this event so we can plan effectively
    • Kindermusik Room is open for play: Filled with instruments, scarves, gertie balls, and more.  Mrs. Debbie will be there to Share the LOVE with Kindermusik Tatoos, “I love Kindermusik” Stickers, and hand stamps, of course !
    • The Director’s Room is our camera friendly room for pictures and a chance to make a Share the Love video.  Mrs. Tiffany will be our photo and video specialist !  AND create a Share the Love comment to disply on our walls for an additional entry into our drawing for prizes at the end of the event.
    • The Art Room is open to Create a SHARE THE LOVE wearable Masterpiece.  Bring your OWN t-shirt, canvas bag, baby bib, or whatever you’d like to decorate.  Mrs. Carolyn will be there to assist and share her supplies and ideas, as well as some cool iron ons, like these “We LOVE Kindermusik” logos, or “We are InTune with Music & Art” .  Then wear your masterpieces to classes and lessons throughout the month of Feb to Share Your LOVE.

Big Kids get a SHARE the LOVE Kids Night Out on Friday, Feb. 17th        ages 4 – 12 years

  • Friday Night:  6 – 10 pm.    Special Price:  $20 for first child, $15 for siblings  
  • Registration required ! 
  • Mrs. Tiffany and Mrs. Carolyn are setting up some fabulous music and art activities. 
  • Bring your own cotton t-shirt, bag, or cloth item to decorate with our SHARE THE LOVE materials.

It is EASY to use our new ALL-Inclusive Sign Up Form to register for ANY of these events, even the FREE ones !

SHARE the LOVE Week week is truly intended to be a week of happy reminders of why we all love Kindermusik, music, and art, and most importantly, of all the special people – educators, families, and children – who come together every week to change the world through music.  

PLEASE SHARE YOUR LOVE with us in the comments section of this post !!!   We have some wonderful prizes to award.

Top 5 Gifts of Music

“I LOVE Music !” your child says, whether with words, or with their body when music is playing and when enjoying an instrument,  or with their facial expressions when you are singing with them.  If they could, they might tell you their top 5 gifts of music like this.

Baby FamilyI love to listen in the car, and sing along with the fun songs.  I love to make music with my instruments, and anything else I can bang on or shake ! Most of all, I love it when my family and I enjoy music activities together:

 
lap bounces with daddy like “Giddy Up A-Horsie”, dancing with scarves with mommy, and circle dances like “Ring Around the Rosie”… 
 
More, please.  Let’s do it again !
 
boy interacts with musicResearch shows that music activates my whole brain, enhancing ALL my learning right now,  and building a strong foundation for all my future learning.    My brain is always searching for patterns that help the world make sense, and music is full of patterns.  My brain learns best when comparing opposite concepts, and music is full of contrasts.  My brain learns best when NEW things catch my interest, and is followed by many repetitions to help keep strong what I have learned.   
 
More, please.  Let’s do it again !
 
girls eyesIf I could, I would tell you that the gift that would mean most to me,
the one that will fill more of each of my days with fun and learning,
the one that will last the longest, and make marvalous memories,
….
is the Gift of Music !

 
…………

 

My TOP 5 Gifts of Music
 
Classes - girl#1 – Kindermusik makes it fun and easy for me and my family to learn new songs and music activities, and gives us all the materials to keep the fun and learning going at home, and in the car !   And it makes me feel so good because Mrs. Debbie thinks I’m so unique and wonderful, and helps me learn in my own way.  
 
There are so many programs, for infants up to 7 years old, available in the Spring Semester starting in Feb.  But we don’t have to wait, let’s visit a class in January.  Check out the details on Kindermusik Gift Certificates, and about the Kindermusik Payment Plans
 
 
#2 – It is so much fun to unwrap and explore new  musical Instruments !
Mrs. Debbie recommends these shopping places:
  • The ONLINE Kindermusik Store has LOTS of great music, instruments, scarves, and even sets (best prices!).  Please “tell” them that Mrs. Debbie sent you by entering her educator code, #15788, at checkout.
  • At the studio, Mrs. Debbie has a limited supply of integrated music sets (that means CDs, books, instruments, props and more that ALL connect on a specific theme that kids LOVE.)  Click the yellow link, or contact Debbie for more details.
  • Boomwacker girlMusic for Little People has the best, most expansive collection of musical stuff for our young children.  Mrs. Debbie could get in a LOT of trouble here! 
  • Locally, there are several great music stores.  Did you know Brooke Potteryalso has a nice small selection?
  • Mrs. Debbie’s Advice: choose instruments your child can be successful with.   Some instruments, like a violin or guitar, are best considered with recommendations for the right size and quality, as well as lessons from a music educator.
#3 – I would LOVE to learn songs about things I am interested in !!!
SweetPea3On play.kindermusik.com, there are hundreds of songs , stories, and music to choose from.  AND, there is a way to SEARCH for songs about the things I like most, like TRAINS, CARS, ANIMALS, Princesses, or growing a garden.      It is easy to download these songs, and the first 10 credits are free when you log in.   Families enrolled in a Kindermusik class not only get the CDs, but they can dowload all the music from the class for FREE, along with MORE fun activities that are part of the semester. 
 
 Need something that is easy, durable, and safe for me to use to listen? Check out this cool SweetPea3 MP3 player
 
#4 –  I think I’m READY for music lessons! 
Am I ready to sit down one-on-one with a teacher for a specific instrument? 
Or will I learn best how to read and write music, and play instruments, through singing, moving, and playing games, which will get me READY for more formal lessons?   
Better talk to Mrs. Debbie and Mrs. Tiffany, to see what is best for me at this time. 
  • Kindermusik for the Young Child (ages 5 – 7) with Mrs. Debbie
  •  InTune Studios offers: Private lessons on the piano, violin, flute, guitar, or voice
    •  Art’Sing – unique program with group voice, acting, dance, and art
      • there is an Afterschool version that can include Martial Arts ! 
    • ART classes are available for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary ages 
 #5 – The Greatest Gift is Musical TIME with YOU and ME

I really like to hear you sing to me, teach me the songs you grew up with, tell me rhymes while I bounce on your knees, pull out the pots and pans and tell me what beautiful music I am making, help me make homemade music instruments, dance with me with music that’s got a groove, and rock me to sleep with the most soothing lullabies.   It’s a gift you can give everyday, and it doesn’t cost a thing, except your time. 

More music, please.  Let’s do it Again !

What GIFT of music are you giving YOUR child or family this year?  Please share !

Developmental progression of Steady Beat

Help your child develop a Steady Beat

Learning to keep a steady beat is more about ability than age, because you can improve this ability at any age.  And it always starts with experiencing it fully FIRST.  But during the earliest years, there are developmental milestones that must be met in order to progress to the next level.  It is important to understand the basic progression that a child goes through to develop a steady beat during the first 7 years of life

The ability to react to the beat in music is an important learning process.  This beat is basically a walking pulse.  Many young children are able to steadily tap to an “inner beat”.   Yet they may have difficulty changing their “inner beat” to correspond to the pulse of music or a drumbeat.  Encourage, but don’t impose an external beat too early, it may result in tension, resistance, or loss of confidence in their abilities.  Experience it, and Encourage practicing a beat in a variety of ways (see the linked posts for each specific age group).  Realize that children will progress through these developmentally appropriate stages as they grow and develop their abilities: 

#1        First a child must  experience a steady beat.  They can feel the steady beat by having someone tapping on their knees (or a variety of body parts).  Sing, play music with a strong beat.  “Catch” the beat with their hands on yours while you sing.  This is pretty much what is appropriate for a baby before they are comfortable with walking.  Even as they begin to gain abilities, it is good to continue to just EXPERIENCE it repetitively.  There are plenty of ways to continue experiencing this all the way through their elementary years.

#2  Watch for Repetitive Movements, like hand clapping, tapping a chair like a drum, tapping Dad’s head like a drum.  Sing or dance along AS IF they have the best steady beat that makes you move.  For babies, the focus is the joy of making the sound, as they are not able to keep a steady beat yet.  But they can still experience it through your interactions.

#3  Around 1 ½ to 2 years old, start your own beat and verbally encourage them to imitate different ways to keep a beat. With your hands over theirs, start the beat… but remove hands after a few beats.   Encourage them to continue throughout a short song or piece of music with a good steady beat.  We are only encouraging continued movement, and looking for signs of the next step.

#4  –  Have them walk or march (without recorded music), and watch carefully for their “inner beat”.  It usually is more apt to occur first with these large motor movements.  Then will progress to using their hands.  Imitate their beat with your own hand movements, drum, sticks, or tongue clicks, and keep the same pace while singing a familiar rhyme or song to their own “inner” beat.  

Expand on this by practicing with variety of hand movements and body movements.  Take enough time to process even just one movement for a whole “short” song.  This repetition is necessary for their development.

#5  While singing, practice with percussion instruments – continuing to match their inner beat.   AFTER they have mastered a steady “inner” beat with their hands and body, is a great time to start working on steady beat with an instrument.  Until then, when they play an instrument, the focus is to explore how to make sounds with that object.

#6 –  Once they feel confident with their “inner” beat, encourage them to slow down their beat, or speed up their beat.  Then finally, encourage them to Match YOUR steady beat.  “Watch my hands and try to tap your knees at the same time as my hands”.  Praise any effort on their part to watch your hands, or if they try to adjust what they are doing.  They don’t have to be perfect to make progress. 

#7 – Eventually, they will be able to keep a beat with recorded music, and practice the beat with movements and non-pitched instruments.  Just so you know, that doesn’t usually happen until around 3 – 4 years old.  But those children with more guidance and experience in their life are likely to develop it sooner.    It is a major focus of our Kindermusik Imagine That program for preschoolers.

#8  And finally, they will be able to keep a steady beat to play simple accompaniments on melodic (pitched)  instruments, ie. xylophones.  These are skills we work on with the 5 – 7 year olds in the Kindermusik for the Young Child program.

One of the most popular postings on this blog offers some of the best teaching techniques for parents while “Catching A Steady Beat with very Young Children”.

For a wide variety of ideas of steady beat activities for a specific age, see the following posts:  Any of the ideas for the younger children can also be used for older children (if it captures and engages them).

Ways to Catch a Beat with Babies

Ways to Catch a Beat with Walkers

Ways to Catch a Beat with Preschoolers

Fall Semester Programs and Themes

YC - UkelelesMusic & Learning FALL  naturally together in Kindermusik, especially with Ms. Debbie !

Lakeland Fall Semester

starts first week of September 2011

Host:  InTune Studios in Dixieland Village at 1037 S. Florida Ave. Suite 125 

Most programs are held once a week, Monday through Thursday

Monday eve. and Tues morning classes are taught by Ms. Tiffany

All the rest are taught by Ms. Debbie.

 The following Core Curriculum classes are 45 min. for 15 weeks (except for Young Child which is 60 min.).   For an overview of how the Core Curriculum meets the needs of children at each stage from infancy up to 7 years old, please click here.

Click on the class logo for links to videos and program descriptions.  Or get class details, and enroll right away, at my website,

http://musiconnx.yourvirtuoso.com  

No classes are scheduled during school holidays, so the last 2 classes are first 2 weeks of Jan. 

Village Logo————– Babies ————

                         Infants up to 19 months   

                       Wed. 9:30     Thurs. 12:30

Do-Si-Do  (Feel the beat with the Waltz, the Tango, the Cha Cha, and more…)  (8 weeks) 

Feathers  (Celebrate the migrating birds and the Fall changes through song and dance.)      (2nd semester starts 11/4)    

Our Time

————- Toddlers ————-

                 (1 ½ – 3 ½  yrs)     

Tues.  10 30 am.  with Ms. Tiffany

Wed. 10:30  &  11:30 am.   

                                                             Thurs. 9:30  &  10:30  am.  

  Wiggles & Giggles Semester Themes: Bath time fun and water themes, self discovery & love between family and friends)            

IT Logo———— Preschoolers ———-

                           (3 – 5 yrs) 

         Wed. 1:30     Thurs. 11:30

  See What I Saw  Theme: Park play in every way:  playground, nature discovery, picnics & more !

Kindermusik for the Young Child—— Kindergarten / First Grade ——

                          (5 – 7 yrs)

             Tues. 5:15 pm  – Sem. 1

  In this 2 year music education program, students gain a strong foundation for basic music theory, instilling a passion for learning music and preparing them for success in formal music studies.  Knowledge and skill development includes read/writing rhythms and notation, ensemble development, playing 3 instruments (the glockenspiel, dulcimer, and recorder), learning the instruments of the orchestra and introduction to several composers, learning about cultural music from around the world, and so much more.  Please contact Debbie for more detailed information.

————-  Second Saturdays ———–

9:30 am.   Babies:  1 – 24 months.

10:30 am.  Families:  1 – 5 yrs (this is flexible)

Fabulous one-time events based on seasonal and child friendly themes.  Scheduled for the 2nd Sat. of every month, starting in Sept.

Sept. 10 –   Babies:  Mister Sun (sunshiny goodness)   Families:  Tub Tunes

Oct. 8 –       Annual Pumpkin Party

Nov. 12 –   Winter Wonderland

Dec. 10  –   Bake, Build, and Sing:  Gingerbread HOUSES !

Family Time Logo———— Families ———-

                    (1 – 5 yrs) 

    If interested, contact Debbie for a survey to determine the most desired time.

  Make Way for Music  Theme:  Learn about and experience music concepts through song and movement.  Listen and learn about instruments of the orchestra. 

We also may be creating some new options for families.  If one of the above  doesn’t work for your family, but you want to see something that does, PLEASE talk to me !   If there is enough interest in a particular program at a particular time, we will do our best to accomodate !

 Enrollment can be completed on my website, http://musiconnx.yourvirtuoso.com , and/or contact Debbie at musiconnx@att.net or 816-8835.  If you have questions, please leave a phone number so we can speak personally.  I’d really like to meet the needs of your family.

Pay in full for the entire semester by the first day of class, and get the chance to choose a prize out of the DRUM !   May include Free CD, Free Download Card, instruments, scarves, Discount Card for Tuition, etc.

To clarify Enrollment Discounts, Payment Plans, and my perspective on providing options for ALL families, see my Blog Page about Payments.

The Gift of Relaxation for Families

Motherhood is many things:  inspiring, frustrating, humorous, gross, heartwarming,  heart wrenching… honestly, our families FILL our lives with emotional and physical extremes and everything in between.

After many years of marriage, I craved having a child because I knew my life would never be as full without at least one (no, husbands don’t count, no matter how much they consider themselves still a child.)  And having children has brought me countless joy, as well as so much personal growth.

Nevertheless, Motherhood is stressful.  Let me back up:  LIFE is stressful, and families just add lives that multiply the stress.  It is not a bad thing, stress promotes positive actions in many cases that are needed.  On the other hand, we all know that continued stress over time, without a way to disperse it, is NOT good for your body or mind.  AND, a relaxed, focused mom is the BEST way to approach parenting.

So my gift to you today is some ideas to help relieve stress and relax using your sense of hearing.   There is a different focus for each of the following blog postings – please read them all and try at least ONE right away.   Got 10 minutes?  That’s all it takes !

First, try them by yourself, and feel the relaxation that begins to flow through your whole being.  Eventually, try them with your children with some of the ideas given. 

 

For as a mom, helping your child learn to relax is, by far, one of the best gifts you can give them.

GOT  10 minutes?

Let your sense of hearing help you release your stress & relax your body.  

1.  The Sound of Silence

2.  The Sound of Nature

3.  The Sound of Music

Motherhood Relaxation with Sounds of Nature

Relaxation Activity 2 – Sounds of Nature                   (link to intro.)

                For yourself:    This exercise proceeds much the same as the Sound of Silence one, yet occurs outside, in a place where the sounds are limited to those of nature.  It could be as close as your backyard – but if there is too much noise from traffic, find a better place.  (Could there be a peaceful park along your drive home from dropping your child off at school or an activity?) 

Instead of focusing on the silence, let your mind pay full attention to the sounds you hear. It doesn’t matter if your eyes are open or closed – whichever helps you relax the most.  Consider the source of each sound, and try to picture it in your mind.  Don’t try to find it with your eyes.    Let the beauty of nature help you remember how beautiful life is.   Let the rustling of the trees rustle that stress out of you.  Let the bird songs lift your spirits to soar among the clouds.   In your mind, connect each sound to a desired response from your body.  After 10 minutes, stretch, and mentally express appreciation to mother earth for her bounty.

                With your child:  In order to promote relaxation, let the child choose ONE object from nature to hold that is the “connection” to the world around him.  Then find a nice comfortable place to lie back, placing the object near the heart.  Some children can close their eyes, but for many, that is stressful to try.  These children can focus on something above them, like clouds or leaves (if under a tree).  Just like some children can simply hold the object still, while some children NEED to manipulate it with their hands while listening – that’s OK.  

 Actively listening to nature with your child does not require 10 min. of silence, but rather moments of silence while listening balanced with brief verbal identification of sounds, and short discussions about what may be happening, or connecting the sound to something the child is familiar with.  You may also invite them to pair these sounds with desired responses in the body.  This discussion can start with parent, continuing to focus MOST of the time on listening. 

Then after a few tries, start asking open ended questions that will help the child focus on some of the aspects already discussed, OR use this opportunity to match the sounds to concepts.  Try to find high pitched sounds, medium, or low sounds.  How about choppy or smooth sounds?  Nature has excellent examples of the concepts of opposites.  With a gentle voice, smoothly continue to direct the focus on relaxing and listening with intent.  Please keep in mind that the time span for such an activity may need to start by being just a minute or two, yet can build over time for some to be even be longer than 10 minutes.

Does anyone have recommendations for local places where JUST the sounds of nature can be heard?