Keeping Music Fun for Babies and Toddlers - set up your own Group!
Children seem to universally love music. It transcends gender and age and can bring groups together in a fun way. There are a whole range of different music groups out there for your baby or toddler and most good ones will let you have a taster session first.
Perhaps of equal or more importance is the means for parents to get out, socialise and build up a support network. Gone are the old days of a village helping to raise a child or grandparents living close by. Often you have to create your own parent friends to help you navigate this tricky child rearing business!
With these music groups, the starting age will very much depend on the child. My second baby had little choice but to start 10 days after she was born (with her 16 month old brother) as I organises my own music group... more about how to do this below!
Keep in mind though, how successfully any sort of music or activity group can go down, on any given day, might as well be determined by which way the wind is blowing. Never work with children or animals, they most wisely say!
When Alison’s 1-year-old showed an interest in music she took him to a music class at her local hall. But after the first 5 minutes her toddler wasn't really interested in joining in with the songs (unless they were singing Wheels On The Bus!). He spent most of the time running around like... a one year old boy. Alison was stressed and flustered trying to restrain him from wriggling away so after two attempts at the class she never went back. Group classes for toddlers can be great, if they are done well, but maybe this one had too many children or the age range was too great.
So, here is an idea I want to share with you - if you want to combine music and socialising but without the pressure of having to commit money...
START YOUR OWN GROUP
I run a free weekly music class with parents in her local area. I inherited the group from a friend who moved away, who had in turn also inherited it (and so on, and so on!).
• Members take turns to host the class at home, within a local area so no one has to drive too far. The organiser manages the scheduling, basically co-ordinating the people who have volunteered to host.
- You could create a private Facebook Group which members join and then post an event each week with the location and any other access/parking details.
- Think about timing that works, from say 9.30/10am to 11.30am, factoring in morning naps and then lunch and naps of the young ones, and parents who have school drop off for older ones. No time is going to be perfect for everyone, so just do your best. Invite people to the event and get them to RSVP so that the host knows how many to expect.
• All you need is playlist of songs on a USB stick or burnt onto CDS, which you rotate weekly, and a bag of instruments. Or everyone brings some of their instruments along and takes them home again at the end. We have 6 playlists of 10 songs, with the same beginning and end song on each and familiar interactive ones in the middle.
• To start, everyone sings the introduction and welcome song (you can make up your own) …
• Then the playlist is played while everyone sings along, does the actions and plays the instruments. Keep it relaxed as sometimes toddlers simply aren’t in the mood. Some weeks everyone is loving the music, but some weeks the kids disappear to the toys after the first 2 songs. We keep going as long as some are interested, otherwise...we get extra time to chat - it's free, it doesn't matter! :-)
• After the music the children have play time (i.e. scatter the hosts toys everywhere) whilst the parents have a cuppa and a chat (and biscuits!). Who ever hosts provides the sustenance, and this all evens out in the end as people take their turn.
So you see, it is a really simple idea which you could copy where you live too. And when it naturally ends for your circumstances (back to work, children at school, you've simply had enough) you can pass the baton on to another willing and enthusiastic parent. It has become one of the highlights of our, especially the network of lovely supportive friends I have made through it.
And if you would like some ideas for great musical toys to buy check out our favourite little instruments for home.