Exploring the natural development phases of The Nature of the Young Child, we have shown how the first phases of life are crucial in how a child discovers independence. Our final part of this series explores the child’s home environment, and in particular, the role of adults in influencing the physical and psychological well-being of children. This is not merely limited to the role of parents, but also other caregivers and influential adults such as teachers of children’s music programs.
When we refer to environment in how it influences the development of the young child, we are not just referring to people, but include also the places and objects surrounding the child. However, the role of the parent or caregiver is an important model for the child. As children are introduced to new environments, they look to the guidance of their familiar people for a comfort level that allows them to explore new interactions. This is why parent/caregiver participation is so important in an early childhood music class. These may be one of the first classroom experiences of the child’s life, and the attitude the caregiver shares in the experience will influence the child’s attitude toward education and participation with others.
Suggestions for Adults in Young Children’s Music Classes
- Take Time to Listen to Toddlers – While their language may not be fully developed, modeling respect for what they have to say will show them that it should be done for others.
- Acknowledge and Respect – Recognize a child’s individuality and efforts that are being made in a respectful manner.
- Speak Clearly and in Full Sentences – Baby talk is not helpful for language development, so use complete sentences and enunciate clearly to help them develop expressive ideas of their experiences.
- Encourage Them to Participate, Then Let Them Make the Choice – Offer an activity and acknowledge the child, but if they do not respond, move on and let them feel free to sit and observe.
- Be Courteous in Modeling – Children between the ages of 2.5 and 4 love learning the precise movements of adults, so model courtesy when greeting others, handling instruments, putting things away, and saying goodbye.
- Keep Things Orderly and Clean – Keeping a musical environment clean, whether in the classroom or at home, makes a lasting impression.
- Be Melodious in Movement and Sound – Being graceful and singing in a calming, pleasant demeanor enriches the musical experience for the child.
- Children Love Ritual, Ceremony, and Consistency – Children need a predictable and comfortable structure from which to explore and experiment, but it’s important to relinquish control without abandoning the child during class.
Perhaps the most endearing quality of children is their never-ending sense of wonder and amazement. By observing and engaging the child while allowing them to discover things on their own, adults energize their curiosity and sensorimotor mode. In these moments of deep concentration and reflection is where we observe and nurture their wonder-filled discoveries and creativity.