What can you expect from a Melodies to Grow On class? Each of the classes has a few core elements:
We use songs that encourage movement, whether it is gross motor movements, like jumping or running, or fine motor movements like finger plays. Music means movement to kids and we do lots of it! Even if children aren’t developmentally able to do the movements for themselves, they are still learning how to do the movements by watching the adults. This means adult participation is strongly encouraged!
We also use songs that encourage instrument exploration and self-expression. By exploring instruments, children can learn about cause and effect relationships, as well as discover new textures and sounds. Playing instruments is also a good opportunity to learn social skills like listening, turn-taking, and sharing. I use musical cues and pauses in the music to elicit responses from the children to help with building communication skills.
We use songs that promote parent/child bonding, like lap rides or peek-a-boo songs, and songs that promote cognitive skills, like counting or labeling body parts. One of the skills we work on in the toddler classes is impulse control, which includes learning to stop an action on command, even though the child might want to continue that action. We do a lot of moving and stopping, or playing and stopping within the music to help introduce this skill.
One more thing we might do in a class, especially the toddler class, is sing or chant a book, since reading to children is so important for the development of literacy skills. There are a number of books that lend themselves to singing and I usually pick one that corresponds with the theme of the class.
One important thing to remember is that young children thrive on repetition. Does your child ask to read the same book over and over again? I know mine did! Repetition is good for developing brains. Music is made up of so many elements for little brains to process like melody, rhythm, harmony, and lyrics that it can take several classes for a child to really get a strong grasp on a song or musical activity. This means that we will sing a lot of the same songs each week of a session. If your child has never been to a Melodies to Grow On class, everything will be new the first class, but after the first class I try to only introduce one or two new songs per week. Each 6 week session has varied themes and music to correspond with the time of year to help the children learn about the world around them.
One final thought– While adult participation by modeling actions is crucial, it is important to let the children have space to explore and respond for themselves. If they choose not to play a drum on their turn, it’s okay. They’re still learning by observing others!