Yes. It’s true. My daughter, Ellery, slept through Kindermusik class—for four months! Now, before you begin conjuring up images of a snuggled and swaddled baby girl being gently rocked to quiet lullabies, let me stop you.
She was two and not really asleep. She just didn’t want anyone to see her. And, in fact, if I am perfectly honest, she didn’t always want to go to class. She wanted to play on the stairs outside of class or smell the tulips in front of the building or peek in the window during her older sister’s Kindermusik class. But, as soon as we stepped inside her class, the eyes would shut and she would slump in my lap—asleep.
Seriously, this is the face of my child when it was time to go into class:
Just when I thought I had this parenting thing figured out
At this point, I should confess that I thought I had this parenting—and Kindermusik—thing down. After all, I lived and breathed Kindermusik as the Senior Director of Marketing for seven years at Kindermusik International. I knew all the latest parenting—and music education research—and participated in Kindermusik classrooms around the world long before becoming a parent, which meant I learned from THE BEST in the business. Plus, we had Emerson, our oldest daughter (AKA “The Rule Follower” and “Safety Patrol”). But, along came Ellery, our spirited child.
Now, if you’ve never had to participate in an active Kindermusik class with, um, a sleeping child, it’s not easy. It’s kind of like taking the class by yourself, while swinging a 25 pound bag of sugar in the air and bouncing it on your knees! But, thankfully, I knew one thing. Ellery was absorbing it all in and participating in the way that best fit her at that developmental stage. How do I know? Well, on the car ride home, she would sing all of the songs, repeat the fingerplays, and even mention certain things her teacher, Jane Hendrix, said in class. Then later, Ellery and Emerson would play Kindermusik class in the living room and (surprise, surprise!) Ellery would be fully awake for that class!
I knew that this sleepy behavior could last the first few classes as Ellery adjusted to this new group of friends. In fact, it can often take five weeks for a young child to feel confident enough to participate more actively in class. And, I was right…sorta.
Kindermusik celebrated my child—even when she was asleep
I should mention that our Kindermusik Educator, Jane Hendrix, took my Ellery in stride. Every week Jane would try a new tactic to encourage participation while also fully accepting Ellery’s form of engagement. In fact, we would often “sleep hello to Ellery” at the start of each class or sing “Resting in the Green Grass.” Eventually, Jane uncovered the one thing that finally coaxed Ellery’s eyes open for longer and longer moments—a dog puppet. Little by little Ellery began to participate with her eyes open, as long as the dog puppet watched. She danced with the dog. Played instruments with the dog and even got to take the dog home one week to play Kindermusik at home. She took that dog everywhere, which meant we played Kindermusik everywhere! We even sang hello–well, barked hello–to the peonies at the grocery store.
I would love to say that from that day forward Ellery eagerly bounded into class each week, but no. She still wanted to play on the steps, smell the flowers, and basically do her own thing, but we kept going and learning and playing and singing. And, you know what? It paid off, because I have the gift of time to see how it did!
5 Years Later
As parents, it takes years to see the fruits of our labor. Are we making the right choices for our kids? Is this worth the time, the money, the struggle? Well, today Ellery is halfway through first grade. And guess what? She participates with her eyes wide open! Kindermusik helped set the foundation for her love of learning—and her confidence to be herself. She loves to read, excels at math, and easily creates a network of close friends who accept her for her. Is she musical? Yes…but we plan to hold off on the drum lessons for now.
Last month, Miss Jane posted a picture on my Facebook page and said, “This girl reminds me of Ellery”:
You see. That’s the other thing. Kindermusik creates bonds that transcend the classroom experience long after a child “ages out.” I know that Jane will always celebrate Ellery for who she is. It’s why Jane—and Kindermusik—will remain firmly planted in my heart.
Kindermusik: A Place to Celebrate Your Child
Every child is welcomed in Kindermusik and celebrated for who they are and how they participate. There is no right or wrong way. Even when children don’t seem to be participating in class (i.e. sleeping or running or sitting in your lap), they are absorbing and participating in their own unique way. It’s one of the reasons why Kindermusik provides materials for families to use together outside the class. Children are most comfortable at home in their own environments. It is worth it…even when they sleep through class!
Find a local Kindermusik educator at www.kindermusik.com and experience firsthand how we celebrate every child!
Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer living the Atlanta area.