Are you tired? Busy? Overwhelmed? Overworked?
Unfortunately, this seems to be too many modern parents. To top it all off, there are more and more articles out there telling parents what they should and shouldn’t be doing. Frantic parents are worried about doing what is best for their children. One article says children should be exercising, taking music lessons, be exposed to different languages. So, parents sign their kids up for gymnastics, piano, and french lessons. Then, another article says that children need more time to just play. Oh no! Now what? I feel your anxiety rising. Don’t worry. I’m not going to be another one of those voices to add worry to your day.
I am an advocate for early childhood music education. I am going to tell you to do SOMETHING. Not everyone has time or money for classes and I understand that. If you have those things, great. DO IT! These classes are usually low-key and can be a fun hour one afternoon or morning a week. There is bound to be a class out there that fits your schedule, whether you are a stay-at-home or work-away-from home Mom (or anything in between!). While we teachers love the families that re-enroll for session after session (It makes us feel like we’re doing something right!), we understand that it’s impossible for most families. If you can sign up for a session (usually 8-12 classes weekly over months), please do so… even if you don’t get a chance to do it again. Your child is going to remember those songs and dances and how to play with those instruments and they will practice it at home. You’re almost off the hook! Almost…
Ok, so you can’t sign up for classes or lessons and can’t possibly add another activity to your hectic day because the thought of adding ONE MORE THING paralyzes you with anxiety. That’s ok. Breathe. Chances are, there is some part of your day that is already inherently musical. The last series on routine songs is a perfect example. Don’t change your routine, just make it more musical.
Do you listen to the radio in the car? Great! If you have favorite songs on the iPod, even better! Wait for it… now, TURN IT OFF… and keep singing. Children love repetition. Sing the song again, but without the radio. Why? Because now that music is not something you and your children are passively consuming, it is something you are actively doing. Every time your child shouts “again!” Take the time to show them that music is something you all can do. Don’t know all the words? That’s ok, make up the words. Only know the tune? Super! Sing it on a syllable like “ba” or “doo.” Singing with vocables (those “nonsense” syllables) allows your children to learn the music without learning words. If they are young and not yet vocal, this will allow them to sing without the words hindering them. You, yes you, are now engaging your child’s inherent musicality.
Have you experienced the joy that is the toddler dance party? Awesome! Now, the next time you blast music and all get your wiggles out to a preschooler rave, make sure you are really dancing. Wait, what? That means moving your whole body to the music, not just your feet or legs, or just your arms. Watch your child, they are probably moving their torso more than any other part of their body. Follow their lead. Show them continuous movement, not just individual beats being tapped out. The more you rock your abdomen, the more they will internalize the beat. Shake your hips to the beat. It can’t get any more embarrassing than it already is, right?
The key isn’t always fitting more music into the day, but making music intentionally. Your child will be getting more out the the music time that they already have, and you aren’t pressured into adding ONE MORE THING into your day.
Have more ideas to work more musicality into your busy day? Let us know. There’s tons of moms and dads out there that could use your ideas!