Sweetest Day

Posted October 16, 2009

Sweetest Day is Saturday, October 17.

What IS Sweetest Day, any way? It’s actually a really wonderful holiday that sadly, is often overlooked these days. Like many holidays, it was started for all of the best possible reasons. Back in 1922, Ohio philanthropist Herbert Birch Kingston established the holiday as a way to make sure that orphans, shut-ins, and the under-privileged were not forgotten. Kingston gave them candy and other small gifts in an effort to bring a little extra joy into their lives – not just because of the gifts, but mostly by being remembered.

Here in the Kindermusik educator community, certain of our peers are recognized for the way they celebrate "Sweetest Day" every class day of the year. These special educators are called "Maestros in Outreach." This is the official citation for this award:

Kindermusik International recognizes that many Educators make considerable efforts each year to reach underserved populations of children—those with physical, emotional, or economic challenges in their lives. These Kindermusik Educators silently, tirelessly, and often without payment or recognition share their gifts and talents for the benefit of the children and families in their communities. With Maestros in Outreach, Kindermusik seeks to recognize and give thanks to these Educators.

As we encourage you to find your own unique way to celebrate "Sweetest Day" on October 17, it is our honor and privilege to pay special tribute to these 2009-10 "Maestros in Outreach":

Aimee Carter
Helen Peterson
Shawna Gordon
Sherry Grimsby
Anne Clark
Robin Millar
Catherine Mullins
Vicki Harris
Julie Stewart
Brenda Haynes
Nancy Hehemann
Shanna DeCola
Rina Barnard
Elmarli Saayman
Elrika van der Merwe
Belinda Potgieter
Desiree Wiggill

Source of history of this article: http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/october.htm

Leave it

Posted October 15, 2009

Since seven-month-old Louie shined so brightly in puppy class, we figured he was ready for an advanced degree, and we signed him up for a novice-level obedience class at our local high school. So on Tuesday evenings my husband and I take him to learn good canine manners: sitting, coming, and lying down when asked; walking nicely on a leash; and the skill Louie finds most challenging, a canine skill that’s all about not doing something you really want to do: “leaving it.” Louie is learning to “leave it” by sitting back when there’s a doggie treat beckoning right in front of him. Eventually he’ll be able to “leave it” when he spies a tempting piece of garbage on the sidewalk or a smelly sneaker just waiting to be chewed.

“Leaving it” is all about self control and resisting temptation. It’s the canine equivalent of not sneaking one more cookie when your mother isn’t looking—which is related to not blurting out the answer before you’re called on in school, and resisting the urge to shoot just one more basket after your dad has called you in to dinner. I love watching Louie achieve good canine manners and gain control of himself—and of course it reminds me of when my boys were young and learning similar early lessons.

It seems that self control, discipline, good manners—all those traditional “virtues” that folks like Ben Franklin espoused—have gotten kind of lost in the last decade or so.  Everyone has been worrying a lot about school readiness—making sure preschoolers learn their ABCs and how to count to 100 and all the colors and shapes and other important academic stuff. But I think the tide is turning again. There’s significant talk amongst researchers and education experts these days about the importance of achieving solid social-emotional skills in the early years—not just because these are an essential part of the glue that holds any social group together, but also because they turn out to be critical for children’s academic success.

So much to learn these days before kindergarten, but fortunately, lots and lots of opportunities for learning. Two cookies: one for you and one for me. That’s both one-to-one correspondence and sharing; math and manners all in one bite.

-by Deborah L. Pool, PhD in Human Development. Debby is VP of Product Development at Kindermusik International. Milou, or "Louie", is Debby's wonderful seven-month-old labradoodle puppy.

World’s Biggest Playgroup – Nov 10 in Minneapolis

Posted October 14, 2009

At Kindermusik, we always say, "The More, The Merrier!" It’s part of our mission to change the world through music, one child – and one family – at a time. Plus, children love being around children. You've seen how their eyes light up when another child is in the room.

In November, we are once again adding a little music, a few dance steps, some jingles and shakers, happy giggles, and lots of memories to our familiar mantra. How and when will this all be happening, you ask? At the World’s Biggest Playgroup in Minneapolis!

KI is again participating in the World’s Biggest Playgroup event sponsored by Babytalk. This event is being held on November 10th at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN. Kindermusik International is one of the featured partners at the event, and Maestro educator Helen Peterson (along with a few other Kindermusik educators) will be leading the four 20 minute Kindermusik segments during this half day event. If you live in the area, you just have to witness this. It is really something.

For more information, visit www.worldsbiggestplaygroup.com.

Relax to Music

Posted October 8, 2009

Just as your child needs stimulation and engagement in age-appropriate activities, she also needs periods of relaxation. This is one of the reasons why Kindermusik Village and Our Time classes include Quiet Time in every class. But a “quiet time” isn’t only for young children; it’s also beneficial for older children as well. And times set aside for relaxation are just as important at home as they are in the Kindermusik classroom.

Creating regular quiet times at home gives your child practice in learning to calm herself, slow her pace, and relax. Plus it helps her develop a valuable lifelong skill – the skill of learned relaxation. Slow, gentle music can best provide an environment most conducive to relaxation.

So take a few moments to relax and listen to some beautiful music. You’ll love how good it makes you – and your child – feel!

Here are a few ideas for quiet time music to get you started:

The Younger, the Better

Posted October 6, 2009

Some people are quite surprised to find out that Kindermusik is for children as young as newborns. Really, what can such a young child gain from starting in a music and movement program like Kindermusik as an infant or toddler?

The following statement, jointly issued by The National Association for Music Education (MENC), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and the US Department of Education, helps explain just how important music education can be for even the youngest musicians…

The Value of Music for the Very Young
The idea that very early education provides great long-term benefits has been rendered incontestable by studies in cognition and early learning. Research in developmental psychology and commonsense observation underscore both the importance and the wisdom of making music an integral and overt part of the earliest education of young children:

  • [M]usic is among the first and most important modes of communication experienced by infants.
  • As young children grow and develop, music continues as a basic medium not only of communication, but of self-expression as well.
  • As preschool children not only listen to and respond to music, but also learn to make music by singing and playing instruments together, they create important contexts for the early learning of vital life skills.
  • Guided music experiences also begin to teach young children to make judgments about what constitutes “good” music, thereby developing in them the rudiments of an aesthetic sense.
  • Music contributes strongly to “school readiness…”

– excerpted from a report issued by the Early Childhood Music Summit, June 2000.  Read the article in its entirety HERE

United Nations of Kindermusik

Posted October 5, 2009

This past weekend, I had the most amazing experience. I hosted a “European” seminar in Basel, Switzerland for Kindermusik educators. I quickly discovered the only “European” aspect about it was its location!

Educators had come to the seminar from 7 different countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland . . . and we even had a special guest from Bahrain, in the Middle East. (Ask her where she teaches. “In a palace” is the answer!)

But the most incredible exercise was to ask from where each of these educators had come originally and how they had learned about Kindermusik. Countries represented in the room quickly doubled to include Brazil, New Zealand, Canada, United States, South Africa, China, England and Scotland. And every educator had his or her own unique story about how Kindermusik had found them (me included!).

This weekend, I was reminded of the fact that Kindermusik is so much more than just music: it’s a lifestyle, a vocation, a philosophy, and a community . . . and it’s universal! It doesn’t matter what corner of the earth you are from. If you are born with the “Kindermusik gene”, eventually Kindermusik will somehow find you. (Think about it: how did Kindermusik find you?)

I’m in the very fortunately position of connecting Kindermusik people – parents, children, and educators – together. And you are too! Each one of us is a Kindermusik Ambassador and we all have the same opportunity of connecting people through Kindermusik. Next time someone asks you where you’re from, you can tell them: “Kindermusik”. After all, that’s what’s brought us altogether!
– Angelica Manca, Kindermusik International
Director, Kindermusik Europe

What do children think of the Beatles?

I'm not sure why this article tickles my funny bone so much, but it does. Maybe it's just how perfectly it represents what happens when you (a) gather a posse of kids and (b) try to engage them in some serious research.

The author gathers five children (ages 6, 6, 6, 7, and 8) – and promises them one toffee bar apiece – if they'll just listen to some Beatles tunes and share their thoughts.

A smattering from the kids' responses:

Hey Jude: 

“Why is he singing like a girl?” asks Rowan. “This is boring.”

She’s Leaving Home (inspired by a news report about a young runaway): Rowan offers her view first.

“It’s a calm song. It’s about a wife creeping around in her dressing gown and telling her husband that the baby has gone.”

“The baby has gone to America,” adds Isabella.

“Actually,” corrects Pearl, “the baby went to Alaska.”

She Loves You

“I thought it was quite strange,” comments Rowan when the song is over.

“It’s different from most of the songs I’ve heard.”

“I loved it,” says Isabella. Why? “I don’t really know.”

After musing for a while, index finger lodged in nostril, Fred concludes: “It’s good.”


Read the whole article here:


Vacation Insights

I've been on vacation. And you know how it is after vacation – you come back to your "real life" full of wisdom, perspective, and good intentions. So while I actually (and truly) don't think I particularly fit the bill of the "hyperparent" (and maybe that's why this article resonates with me…don't we love to be told we're right?), this article hit some nice notes with me so I thought I'd pass it along, if for no better reason than to make you feel good about the non-hyper-parenting you're already doing.


How to Let Go of Hyperparenting and Learn to Relax With Your Kids

Being a child isn’t always easy.

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” – C.G. Jung

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

If you’re a hyperparent, you might not even know it — we parents tend to be in denial about that sort of thing.

But if you are, you might want to learn to relax — for your kids’ sake, and for yours.

Hyperparents are spotted when they are trying to educate their child from the womb, and expose them to the most intellectually stimulating music and art and literature before the kid can crawl. They obsess over everything, from whether the child is learning fast enough to how safe every single thing is to every little scrape and bruise. They are overprotective, overbearing, overwhelming to the child.

I admit, I was a hyperparent once, and still can be sometimes. It’s a habit I’m trying to break, with some success.

And for those of you who are hyperparents, and will admit it if only to yourselves, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned, in hopes that it’ll help.

Be forewarned that some of these suggestions take a very different approach to parenting than the traditional methods — I’m not suggesting everyone follow them, especially if you’re not willing to break with traditions. What I am suggesting is that these methods will help you relax, will help your child feel freer and less controlled and more able to explore and learn on her own, and could possibly result in a better relationship with your child and a happier child overall. I don’t have proof of that yet, but I have a strong hunch based on how my kids react when I do these things right.

1. When you get angry, pick them up and hug them. Instead of scolding or spanking or time outs or other controlling methods, try love. It’s a much better response, and you’re teaching your child through your actions rather than your words.

2. Make this your mantra: treat them with kindness, treat them with respect. Seems simple, but it’s surprising how little respect we give to kids, because they’re kids.

3. Drop your expectations of the child. Often parents have high hopes of the child doing well academically, or in sports, or of becoming a professional, when that’s not what the child wants. Or the parent hopes the child will be a certain type of person, and tries to steer the child toward that — a mild, kind child, or a bright, cheerful child, or a studious, hard-working child — but that’s not who the child is. Drop these expectations, and celebrate the child, as she is.

4. Let her play, let her explore. Stop being so overprotective. Allow the kid to be a kid. Let her run around outside, ride a bike, explore nature, play with fire. Teach her, of course, about safety and dangers, but let her be a kid.

5. Say yes, or some version of yes. Instead of saying no. Often parents have an instinct to say no. But this is controlling and stressful, to both child and parent. Stop trying to control the child, and give him some freedom. That doesn’t mean you can say yes all the time, because you have needs too, but it does mean you can say “Yes, we can do that … but perhaps later, when I’m done with what I have to do now.”

6. Stop trying to overeducate, and get out of the way. Parents try to impart all kinds of knowledge on kids. So do schools. But kids learn naturally, without us. Get out of the way, stop trying to force the kid to learn what you think he needs to learn. Encourage him to explore, and read, and figure stuff out. Get him excited about things. When he’s excited about something, he’ll learn. When you force it on him, he’ll do what he’s forced to do, but not learn much other than you’re controlling.

7. Just focus on making the next interaction with them positive. Many of these changes are difficult to make for parents, as we have deeply ingrained habits, stemming from our own childhood. So just focus on the next interaction. Just try to make the next one a good one. Don’t worry about when you screw up — just apologize if you’ve broken a trust, and move on.

8. Take a moment to pause, and see things from your child’s perspective. If you get angry, it’s because you’re only seeing things from your perspective. The child has a completely different view of things, and if you can understand that view, you won’t be mad at the child. You’ll try to make things better for her.

9. If the kid is “acting up”, try to figure out why, and meet that need. Often it’s a need for freedom, or attention, or love, or to be in control of his own life. Figure out what that need is, and find a more productive way to meet it.

10. The kid is already perfect as he is. You don’t need to change him. You don’t need to mold him into the perfect person. He’s already perfect, just as he is.

And now, relax. Enjoy every moment with your child, because they are too few, too impermanent. Trust me — my oldest daughter is 16, and I can’t believe how fast her childhood has come and gone. Cherish this time with them, and make every moment a good one. You’ll never regret those moments of happiness, those moments when you said yes, when you let your child play, when you stopped controlling and started loving.


The Kindermusik Secret

I love being a Kindermusik educator. I've done so for six years now, and I never tire of watching the parents interact with their children in my classroom – the shared laughter, the creative moments of discovery, and the memories that will surely be cherished for many years to come.

Well, I've come here to tell you a secret. Promise not to tell anyone? It may be quite shocking to some of you!

I'm not the teacher in my Kindermusik classroom.


Well, as a Kindermusik educator, I believe YOU, the parent, are your child's most important teacher. No one will ever know or understand your children like you do, and as they grow and learn, you will be the most important factor in their success.

So what exactly is my job as a Kindermusik teacher then?

• providing an open environment where you and your children can learn and grow together

• coaching you as you explore the world of music with your child

• educating you about your child's development and finding new ways to enhance that development

While I wear many hats (sometimes literally) in my classroom, being the best teacher for your child is not one of them. That is an honor reserved for you. Wear it with pride, and don’t forget, that little "teacher secret", it's just between us!


Guest Contributor: Aimee Carter Delightful Sounds, Inc. www.delightfulsounds.com www.delightfulsounds.com/blog (813) 503-6976