Listening is the cornerstone of a child's mental and social development, and it is also the core skill developed in our classes.
Movement and motor skills are innate. Every mother knows the feeling of the baby moving in utero, and even the youngest newborn startles with movement at a sudden sound. Movement is integral to all our classes, starting with bouncing and swaying, walking and stopping, in our baby classes. Movement is featured in every age group, including piano/keyboard, because the child learns first by experiencing and moving. Children learn to move, and they move to learn.
Language and vocabulary begin developing from the earliest days in the womb, as a baby hears the voices of mother and others. Even a newborn baby quickly learns that crying brings a parent! Movement develops before language, but we use language to label our movements by adding interesting vocabulary (such as "The old gray cat is stalking"). In our toddler class we begin to encourage the use of language: the greeting song gives opportunity for each child to speak out a unique movement and as they become familiar with a variety of motor actions, I ask them to choose. Toddlers will show the action before they can use language, but by three years children are ready to say the word that describes the movement.
Social development is Ensemble in musical terminology. From a young age, children are reaching out for social interaction. Our three year-olds love simple ensembles such as "Toumba" which introduce turn-taking with instrumentation. Four year-olds create more complex ensembles based on contrasting melodies or harmonic progressions (examples include "Walking in the green grass" and "Row, row, row your boat".
Emotional or creative development comes from the zone of proximal development we discussed in the previous post. The tension between risk-taking and comfort is a key factor in your child's healthy development. For this reason we give children more input into the class as they get older. they take initiative to organize rhythm cards into new compositions, or create weather soundtracks, for example.
Cognitive development including reading and writing is also foundational to our curriculum. Children learn through cause and effect; they begin to 'connect the dots' and form neural connections in the brain. By age four we have introduced symbols to hear, experience, see, and write. By five and six we are exploring more complex rhythmic and melodic patterns until a child can recognize these features in a song sheet. By the time they reach Piano/Keyboard class, children are able to identify a mystery song from notation they have not seen before. And throughout the curriculum we are also building hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills that prepare a child for reading and writing activities.
This semester, feel free to look out for these developmental skills "hiding" in plain sight in our fun classes. Your child may not notice the educational content, but you will see the developmental benefits!