Monday, October 26, 2015
John's grandparents have been attending Kindermusik classes with us since John was a baby. I used to think John's grandma, Carolee, loved class more than any other human being, including all of the kids. Carolee is a former preschool teacher, and when John was a baby, she would spend the whole time laughing heartily at his antics and the antics of the other children around him. I knew from the moment I met her that Carolee was some sort of Kindermusik angel sent to watch over us and make sure we squeezed every bit of joy we could get out of each and every class.
It wasn't until about four or five semesters in, though, that I realized that John's grandpa might actually be having a better time in class than either John or Carolee. John's grandpa loves to sing. John's grandpa can sing almost as high as I can, and he does, at every opportunity. Today in class, John's grandpa tried to sing along with a piggyback song that I was making up as I went along to the tune of Queen's "We Will Rock You". After that, he was rolling around on the ground with two little boys. Obviously, one was not John; let's call him Jack. John's aunt (yes, John comes with a full entourage) whispered, "Dad! Stop tickling that little boy! That's not John!" Jack's mother pulled me aside and laughed. "She's new," she said. "She doesn't realize that he always plays with Jack. Jack loves him!"
Indeed, when John's Grandpa comes to class, he is everybody's grandpa. He comes to class with the spirit of a very outgoing little kid. He rolls around on the floor, makes up harmonies to songs he's never heard before, and gets everyone riled up with his fun-loving personality. I joke that he's the one in the family who's my student. To tell the truth, though, he and Carolee and Jack's mom and all the other fantastic parents in that class are the best possible "Kindermusik Grownups" -- they come for the fun, stay in the moment, sing like they're the stars of the show, and aren't afraid to marvel in -- and even emulate -- the wonder that is the two-year-old child.
"Miss" Lindsay is the Director of Kindermusik with Miss Lindsay & Friends. For more information on our holistic approach to teaching music to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, please visit www.eastbaykindermusik.com.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
One of the saddest things in the world is a child crying inconsolably for no apparent reason.
In class this week, a beautiful little girl started laughing hysterically during one of our class activities. Then, perhaps overwhelmed by the strength of her own emotion, she started crying as if brokenhearted. Tears poured from her blue eyes, her face turned red, and her breath heaved as she clung to the assistant teacher at her side.
The assistant teacher tried to soothe her, saying, "Why are you crying? What's wrong? What's the matter?" However, children often don't know what they're feeling, much less why they're feeling it. Our job is to help them identify the feeling and to help them make sense of the emotional maelstrom that threatens to pull them into its undertow.
"I don't think she knows why she's crying," I ventured. "You don't know why you're crying, do you?" I asked the child. She shook her head no. "It's okay. Sometimes I get really sad, too, and I don't know why, but it's good to feel all the feelings. Do you miss Miss Paulette?" She kept crying but nodded. Miss Paulette was the head teacher who usually attended class with us. "It's okay to be sad when we miss someone. It's okay to cry." The little girl seemed slightly reassured but kept sobbing.
At this point, the rest of the class was transfixed on the little girl, and since I'm a teacher, a red flag went off in my mind for two reasons. First, no one likes to be stared at when they're crying. Second, when it comes to children, crying can be contagious. Fortunately, music is one of the best ways to redirect a room full of children and calm turbulent feelings. We switched from the goofy, quick-paced activity to a sweet, moderately slow song about an owl. The song is written in a minor key, a musical flavor tinged with sadness, and features an owl hooting three times at the end of each line. As a class, we wondered if perhaps the owl was feeling sad.
As we sang the song, the little girl's breathing started to slow. The attention was off her, and her feelings were being validated by the sad little owl who, with his slow song in a minor key, seemed to feel the same way she was feeling. By the end of the class, she was what psychologists call "emotionally regulated." Her feelings were no longer overwhelming her; she was comforted.
The next time your child is crying inconsolably, try these four steps:
1. Tell him he is safe and loved. These are the two things every child always needs to know, especially when they're upset.
2. Help the child name his feeling. Is he sad? Angry? Scared?
3. Validate the child's feeling. Help him understand why he might be feeling his feeling, and reassure him that it's okay to feel that way.
4. Use music to help your child move through the feeling. Play or sing a slow song or lullaby, preferably in a minor key. For example, Sulla Lulla is a beautiful song that you may already have as part of your Kindermusik collection. If not, you can find it online at http://play.kindermusik.com.
May you be happy
May you be safe
May you be healthy
May you be at peace
Miss Lindsay is the Director of Kindermusik with Miss Lindsay & Friends. For more information on our holistic approach to teaching music to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, please visit www.eastbaykindermusik.com.