A Dad asked me last week about what to do to encourage his child to stay in the room at Noise Lab during our workshops and I didn't have a great answer in the moment. I've further reflected on the idea of how a child should "look" involved to be involved in music.
A child engaged in music may look like.....
Music is an aural and oral language. It is internalized and learned by listening and doing. Depending on their age, day, time, week, learning style, level of interest, and many many factors, a child may be fully engaged while standing outside of the room at Noise Lab or not engaged at all inside the room. Children are born learning. They wake up every day learning. All of their senses are being called upon to process the many new things life sends their way each and every waking minute. And it's hard! If a child leaves the workshop they may be feeling overwhelmed or they made need to process something from before and we've moved on too quickly. Or maybe they're hungry and need a break. They also might need to move! Or maybe they just don't like the song we're singing! :-) What I love about Noise Lab workshops is that despite all of the ins and outs, in the end I'm learning about my child (and all of yours) and bonding with them while we make meaningful music together.
Think big picture
My children are certainly not model students at Noise Lab. They sometimes need attention that I can't provide and are often not doing what everyone else is doing. I believe that my participation and enjoyment transfers and allows for them to stay engaged because I'm engaged. I know this to be true because my children sing the Noise Lab songs when no one is watching and often request to listen to them at home. Despite their behavior in class, they are still learning. Is it always fun having them? Not always! The environment that we're creating for our children establishes their first connections with music. You are creating a powerful bond with your child and for your child with music that will last a lifetime.
Is it reasonable to expect a 18 month old to sit for 45 minutes? Absolutely not! Is it reasonable for a 4 year old? Absolutely not, although some can. While our workshops incorporate movement and we often change things up to account for the need to wiggle it is not realistic to expect any child that attends our class to sit still. In fact, if they all did it'd be so boring! I'm inspired by my colleagues at Bing Nursery School that have created a thoughtful schedule for their classrooms. What do they expect? After 3 hours of free play children ages 3-5 are asked to sit at story time for 15 minutes! That's it!
- Movement in and out of the classroom is okay (though play equipment should be off limits during the class) and may be what your child needs to learn.
- The week to week may not look pretty but will accumulate in a lifelong meaningful experience and bond with music that you are gifting your child.
- Expectations for what your child should be able to do and what they can actually do may not be the same (a lesson I learn constantly).