We’ve been ‘back’ now for nearly 2 weeks and in that time have taught over 400 pupils in about 70 classes and it’s been utterly joyous to be back playing and learning together.
Perhaps not surprisingly, we’ve noticed a real shift in behaviour from our little pupils which we can only assume must be down to lockdown and the subsequent shuttering of activities like ours. There’s a lot more clinginess and anxiety than usual, and we’re having to work much harder on encouraging the little ones out of their shells to engage in new experiences. There was a general lack of sociability at the start of term (which is totally understandable given how out of practice they are) but we’re pleased to report that week by week, the little ones’ confidence is growing and personalities are blossoming.
A child’s early years are crucial to the development of social skills and emotion regulation. Human beings understand that instinctively, which is why we automatically speak to babies in a reassuring ‘sing song’ voice and as they get older, expose and explain as many new things as we can to them so that they aren’t frightened by new experiences or situations.
Baby groups are a great source of new stimuli for children and their carers. Whilst at Mini Mozart we may be teaching the concept of pulse by getting the children gathered around beating in time with a giant scrunchie, they are learning so much more than that: For some it might the first time they really notice the other children in the class, and from there they begin to learn about co-operation and being part of a team.
While we’re teaching the children about tempo or pitch with our giant parachute, at the same time the children are learning about impulse regulation: The excitement when we’re moving the parachute up and down fast is at fever pitch, but when the pianist switches suddenly to slow music, the children have to pivot physically and emotionally as the parachute too slows down and the atmosphere switches to calm.
For the babies, the parachute exercise can be as simple as establishing the idea of object permanence. Now you see me (as the parachute wafts up), now you don’t (as the parachute floats down and covers your face). Once a baby is able to predict the pattern (up, down, up, down) their confidence is boosted when their predictions are confirmed. We use music in the same way; babies instinctively understand musical patterns which boosts their cognitive development, confidence and developing language skills exponentially.
It’s these sorts of activities, which are difficult to recreate at home, that give children the breadth of experience that helps them develop the confidence and resilience that paves the way for a happy life.
The virus has changed how we live in so many ways, but through our carefully designed songs and games, we are eeking out every benefit that music brings – musical, social, emotional and cognitive – so that we can help mitigate the anxiety that the under-socialised children of lockdown may have developed.
Do get in touch if you have any specific concerns, but if not, we hope to see you at one of our COVID safe classes very soon.