My child loved the class, but will the next session be exactly the same?
“………… And they all lived happily ever after. The end.”
“………… And they all lived happily ever after. The end. “
………… “And they all lived happily ever after. The end. “
etc., etc., etc.
We’ve ALL been here, right? If there’s one thing that infants and toddlers crave, it’s repetition. I’d venture to say repetition is the most powerful way that young children learn, and therefore it plays a huge role in our teaching approach. That being said, it has recently come to my attention that some parents who are finishing up their first session with us wonder if our classes are the exact same year-round.
After having professionally recorded all 181 songs and rhymes (most of which are originals) that make up our Ms. Clara’s Mini Musicians curriculum, I can assure you that we do not sing the same songs all year-round! 😀
Our music classes are specifically designed for children to continue through the program consecutively (year-round), with new and different skills being offered in each session. Whether it be getting better and better at complex drum patterns, improving coordination during our tricky movement songs, or building self-confidence in our turn-taking songs, each week affords little ones the opportunity to grow more and more comfortable to express themselves and enjoy class to the fullest.
In my 10+ years of teaching experience, I have found that children who attend our classes year-round gain the most from our program (and therefore have the most fun!), as the program has been designed to grow with them- engaging and challenging them each step of the way. Rather than growing bored with the classes, children come to class with a huge smile on their face, sharing with their teachers that they can’t wait until the drum, puppets, Pony Joe, etc. They know where they are, what to expect, and they actively look forward to their favorite parts of class.
Repetition, Consistency, and Self-Confidence
While a few of the songs do repeat throughout the school year (such as the hello / goodbye songs and the drum / triangle songs), we do this purposefully, as familiarity with songs and activities gives children a sense of comfort and ease. This is particularly true at the beginning and ending of each class, when transitioning between a home environment and a classroom environment can feel a little scary or unknown. Hearing familiar songs eases little ones into the class in a gentle way, and finishing classes with the same songs each week gives children a “heads up” that class is almost over and another change in environment is on its way.
Even very young children quickly begin to anticipate what’s coming next, which is clearly evidenced by a preverbal child pointing to the drum as soon as our first beat movement song is complete, or a child excitedly saying “it’s time for the parachute!” simply because she knows that we always do our parachute activity after a particular song or rhyme. At a time in their lives when everything around them feels new and possibly out of their control, predictability and anticipation give children confidence in knowing what to expect and what is expected of them.
Repetition, Consistency, and Participation
We also find that children are much more likely to participate in the songs and rhymes once they are more familiar with them. In the first few classes, many children simply stare at the teacher, absorbing it all, but not necessarily participating. However, once they have heard the song numerous times in class and at home, they no longer need to focus on learning the song and can now fully engage in creating the song by singing along, playing their rhythm sticks, etc. They can be fully present to the joy of the activity rather than having to be focused on figuring out the unknown.
My child has become much more mobile lately. Should I take a break until she’s old enough to sit and participate again?
For the Munchkin and Mini Maestros (infants and young toddlers), little ones are exploring their mobility more than ever, and it can be tempting to want to take a break from music class until your toddler knows how to sit in a circle and participate. However, that begs the question, if your child is no longer in an environment in which they are being asked to sit in a circle and participate, how will they learn these skills? Staying in a class that encourages (but of course does not require) learning the skills of sitting in circle time, participating in a structured activity, and following directions is extremely beneficial. We want to encourage kiddos to keep practicing those fine and gross motor skills alongside learning focus and self-control in a safe and nurturing environment.
We were only gone for one session. Why isn’t my child playing the drum anymore? He used to love the drum!
Around age 2-3, children start to become much more self-aware, and shyness often starts to kick in. Instead of jumping up and waving hello to the whole class during the hello song, they begin to hide behind mom or dad as soon as they hear their name. They may practice the beat and drum patterns on their own laps excitedly, but as soon as it’s their turn to come up and play, they hide their face behind their hands and insist that mom or dad play the drum for them (even though they clearly want to play it themselves!).
I’ve witnessed the above scenarios countless times. However, children who consistently attend classes year-round often skip this phase entirely. They are in a familiar environment with familiar faces singing familiar songs, and therefore it doesn’t occur to them to be shy. They are able to enjoy class to the fullest and participate in the songs and activities without feeling scared or self-conscious. You can almost hear them thinking to themselves, “I got this.”
Final thoughts on repetition and consistency
Overall, we do our best to find the perfect balance between offering enough repetition to allow children to learn the songs and feel familiar with our routines, and introducing new songs and activities to keep things fresh and exciting.
Staying in our classes consistently gives children the opportunity to explore their own creative self-expression in a safe, familiar place. Consistency also helps families to avoid the reacclimation period which often takes at least 2-3 classes each session when students take breaks during the school year.
Whether you are here for one session or 5 straight years, we are grateful to have the opportunity to share our love of music with your little ones. There is no greater joy than watching children light up in class when they hear their favorite song, joyfully and proudly yell “I did it!” after playing the drum alone for the first time, or run into the room and hug a friend they have come to know and love in class. We have truly created a joyful community together, and we invite you to join us if you have not yet done so. Please click here to view our winter class schedule, and classes start Saturday, December 1st.