In response to the question posed in an article about classes for very young children, a parent points out some of the benefits.
What kind of person takes a 2 yr old to a music class?"
Count me as one-I enrolled Alli in Kindermusik at 8 weeks. And, after doing so, I did the requirements to get my license to teach the curriculum (which, with degrees and certificates in Music Ed and Child Development was a cakewalk).
The author is right in that this isn't the days where children played outside in the yard-but there's a good reason for that. I am the only stay at home mom anywhere in my neighborhood. Unless we move out to the suburbs, where perhaps there may be more people, if I want to have any interaction with other adults except for those working in businesses, or I want Alli to have any interaction. So, by enrolling Alli in Kindermusik, I got to meet other SAHMs who at least had some interest in music and who had children similar in age to mine. Which means that the weekly class spurs a whole bunch of related activities during the week, sharing of information, and sharing of parental stories and skills-things that my mother had in her neighborhood when my brother and I were growing up. Added to music, playing with instruments, books, and dancing-and realistically, while it's great to say that parents will do this on their own, few adults in this society are comfortable singing or moving on their own, let alone with a fragile baby in their arms. The weekly class gives adults the chance to explore and experience such activities in a safe situation, to learn that they won't break their baby, and activities to take home. The home materials are exactly this-activities which require parent and child interaction. And, if I, as a professional educator with strong backgrounds in music and early education can benefit from such a setting, than so can any parent.
As to why I teach the program? Same thing applies-if I can benefit, so can any parent. One of my roles at the university is to write grants and try to find ways to bring this program into the community, and one of the classes I teach is a group of toddlers who have home languages other than English or have language delays. It's a rainbow coalition which often involves the parents sharing music and language from their cultures, while developing their English skills and learning skills to help their child play in English as well as in their native language. Another class I teach is ASL enriched, and has a mix of neurotypical children and children with disabilities-all singing and signing together.
See, kids can play-they know what to do, they know how to do it. But in today's day and age, many parents do not. They need to learn to stop, follow the child, and that it's developmentally appropriate for children to make nonsense rhymes and be silly, to crawl around and pretend to be animals, to cry sometimes and laugh sometimes a few minutes apart. That is what these classes provide. Not Mini-Mozarts, and not preparing children for preschool or school-although, for children who aren't in a group setting, there are benefits there as well-but at the simplest level, parent education so that the parents realize that they don't need Baby Einstein or Leap Frog-they need to sing, play, read, dance, crawl, jump, rock, rest, and rhyme.
I think this author needs to give parents more credit. Most parents aren't out to get their toddler ready for school, or to prepare children for a global environment, or to make their child smarter. They're there to have fun, play with their child, and to raise a happy, fulfilled child. And, for my daughter, that includes reading dozens of books on a daily basis (I have most of Sandra Boyton memorized) and playing games with words. It includes going to the park and swinging and sliding. It includes seeing animals at the zoo, at the pet store. It includes playing sound games and babbling. It includes ASL. It includes going to the library and picking out new books to read. It includes making messes in the kitchen.
It also includes a weekly music class, where we get to interact with friends and dance and sing with other toddlers and their parents.
Not outrageous at all.
Donna-Early childhood music educator-and parent of a signing, singing toddler.