Whether children come to music class with a parent or attend class at school, the adults in the room can really affect the way the class goes. Today, I have a few tips to make the most out of your child's music class.
Nothing gets a room full of kids singing like a room full of adults singing. If the adults are all dancing, then the children will follow. Educators call this modeling. The idea is to teach with your actions. Show your children how you want them to act, by acting that way yourself.
2. Come Prepared
Although you can never predict exactly what your child will need at any given moment, there are a few things you can do to help them get ready for class. Have a snack before class and check their diaper. If possible, put your things in a place where your child can't see them. (They probably won't ask for those cheese crackers if they can't see the diaper bag... where the mother-load of cheddar bunnies obviously comes from.)
3. Don't Be Afraid to Leave the Room
It is absolutely normal for your two year-old to have a meltdown because they didn't get the red shakey egg. Toddlers and infants can be very unpredictable. It's okay to leave the room and help your child calm down. You can always come back once they are ready.
4. It's Alright if your Child Can't Sit Still for 30 minutes
Music class might be a completely new situation for your child. They need time to adjust and get accustomed to this new (sometimes loud and chaotic) situation. For example, how often are children in a completely empty room? This free space is a novelty to children and it often inspires running in circles.
If your child can't sit in a circle for the whole class that is okay. Let them get up. Give them a minute to wiggle out their sillies and then go to them and quietly bring them back to the circle. It might take them a while to get use to sitting in a circle, but this is a skill they will use in preschool and kindergarten.
5. Help Your Child Quietly
A glace or a whisper is usually all you need to help you child realize what behavior you want from them in class. A quiet whisper to remind them to keep their rhythm sticks in their hands is probably all they need to stop to throwing them.
Many of children's undesirable behavior escalates because of the adult reaction they get. Keep your responses consistent and positive. If your child pushes another child in class, remind them to use gentle touches. If you just tell them not to push, you aren't guiding them toward what you want. You are only telling them what you don't want. You might say, "Don't throw," but they only hear "throw." Try, "hold on tight." If you keep it positive, there is less of a chance for them to misinterpret you.
If things get out of hand and your toddler is throwing instruments, screaming or pushing their friends, it's okay. Take a deep breath. Remember that they are toddlers. Most of them don't have the words to tell you what they are feeling and what they need. Just remove them from the situation until everyone is calmed down.
6. Don't Worry so Much!
Parent's often apologize to me for their children's behavior. I always try and remind them that their child is a child after all. Toddlers do wacky unpredictable things. It's one of the reasons we love them. Everyone has bad days, including children.
Next week will be a new class, and every week things will get easier. (Until one day when no one napped and nothing will be easy.) Parenting is hard. Pat yourself on your back. Your child is wearing clothes, you remembered to feed them, and you even got them to music class today! (It's alright if you were late... no one is perfect.)
Your child is learning valuable skills in class. They are learning how to be part of a group. They are learning how to share instruments and take turns. They are learning new words and new ways to move their bodies. They are making new friends and having a great time with you.
Enjoy your time in class with them.
A Note for the Teachers:
Your job is hard! All of the guidelines above go for you too, but times 12. You are super-heros and your super-power is patience.
The only thing that might not translate from parents to teachers is number 3. Due to DCFS teacher-child ratios, You might not be able to leave the room with a distressed child, but you can still remove them from the circle and calm them down.