Although it is necessary to indicate age ranges for Kindermusik curricula, these age ranges are considered to be overlapping and flexible. Talk with your child’s teacher for an accurate assessment and placement of your child in the appropriate Kindermusik class. It is particularly important for this dialogue to take place at “transitional stages” (1½, 3 and 4½ years of age). For example, it is absolutely OK for a 3-year-old to be in an Our Time class. But it is also possible to have a young 3-year-old who is ready to move on to Imagine That! Senior Kindergarten is a perfect time to move up to Young Child. Please talk to your child’s teacher if in doubt about the best placement for your child.
Consider the following:
- What is your goal for your child? Are you more interested in supporting your child’s developing independence, or is special bonding time together still very important to you?
- Which environment do you see your child thriving in? (Our Time is a weekly 45-minute class with caregiver fully participating, Imagine That! is a weekly 45-minute class: 30-35 minutes with the other children and the teacher, and the last 10-15 minutes with adults and siblings in for “Sharing Time”. Kindermusik for the Young Child is a weekly 60-minute class, with the last 10 to 15 minutes as “Sharing Time”.)
- Will your child be at least the minimum age by the start of the semester for the program in which you are enrolling?
- Evaluate the pleasure factor more than the achievement factor. Remember that solid emotional development fosters cognitive development. In other words, when your child is feeling happy and secure, that’s when he’s learning!
The Kindermusik philosophy springs from genuine respect for each child’s individual rate of development and thereby provides the tools through class activities and home materials to honour, support and celebrate uniqueness.
Moving From Village to Our Time
Here are some characteristics that we, as teachers, look for when assessing whether an 18-month old is ready to move from Village (birth to 18 mos.) to Our Time (18 mos. Through 3 years):
- Improved walking skills, feet are together, knees flexible
- Beginning to explore a variety of traveling movements – run, jump, leap
- Reliably points to correctly identified body parts
- Understands what 1 means (vs. handful)
- Learning to use toys and objects in symbolic ways (moving beyond just enjoyment of sensory properties)
- Moving beyond play schemes of mouthing, throwing and dumping
- Actions become purposeful and integrated
- Can interact in a directed activity
- Able to shift attention with transition
- Connects to an activity
- Initiates a play sequence with a caregiver
- Reliably responds to own name
- Uses gestures and language to deal with frustration (as opposed to just crying or whining)
- Sustains interest and attention in activity for several minutes
- Is able to sit for several minutes concentrating on an activity.
- Can express wants and needs symbolically (gestures or words)
- Has vocabulary of at least 20 words
- Receptive language is still stronger than expressive
- Reading with caregiver becomes co-operative – child will select book, sit, turn pages, relate to the story and interact
- Interested in what other children are doing
- Capable of distal communication (i.e. following verbal instructions from further away)
- Moves to music, perhaps to steady beat
- Responds to rhymes and songs, recognizing familiar ones
Moving From Our Time to Imagine That!
The Imagine That! Program (for 3 & 4 year olds) has been written as much to include children who have just turned 3 years, to those who are almost 5. While the 3-year-old is becoming independent, using language to express wants and needs and therefore, able to function well without a parent, keep in mind that there is plenty of time to securely support this emerging independence. Too much in our society forces independence too soon and too fast. Let Kindermusik be the place where the needs of the child and the whole family are respected. Some 3-year-olds are not emotionally ready to break from a parent for 35 minutes and others find it difficult to follow directions and focus for that length of time. Please carefully consider whether or not your child would benefit more from an additional semester of Our Time.
Here are some characteristics that we, as teachers, look for when assessing whether a 3-year-old is ready to move from Our Time (18 mos. through 3 yrs.) to Imagine That (3 & 4 yrs.):
- Has a taller, thinner, adult-like appearance
- Balances on one foot, jumps in place without falling
- Holding crayons in pincer grasp rather than fist
- Knows if they are a boy or a girl
- Can do matching games
- Can name lots of animals
- Knows triangle, circle, square: red, yellow, blue
- Developing divergent thinking skills (“What animals do you like?”)
- Beginning transition from concrete to abstract thinking
- Sits and listens to stories for up to 10 minutes
- Recognizes needs of another person, can be empathetic
- Separates from parent without crying
- Developing a sense of humour
- Beginning to master rules of language
- Speaks in full sentences (4-5 words) and asks questions
- Vocabulary growing from 300-1000 words
- Can relate a series of activities and tell a story (“We went to the grocery store, then to Grandma’s and I played with the kittens…”)
- Recognizes the needs of another person
- Turn taking becomes harder than earlier, but beginning to understand reasons
- Learning about patience
- Recites rhymes
- Sings simple, whole songs
- Able to keep own steady beat
Moving From Imagine That! to Young Child
The Young Child program (5 to 7 years) is a sequential curriculum that is presented in four, 15-week semesters, two per year. Your child should be in SK or be 5 by late Fall at the latest. Your child’s teacher will be able to advise you whether or not he or she is ready to move up. Here are some characteristics that we, as teachers, look for when assessing whether a child is ready for the Young Child program:
- Can jump forward many times in a row, hops, gallops and is learning to skip
- Demonstrates control of pencil or crayons
- Can reproduce many shapes and letters
- Hand dominance is evident
- Eager to learn
- Has developed classification skills (i.e. can sort things that have a single common feature) and can sort by size, colour and form
- Counts and recognizes numerals 1-20
- Engages in dramatic play that is close to reality
- Beginning to relate time to events (i.e. can wait for and anticipate events)
- Responds to simple 3-step directions
- Impulsive control is emerging and developing
- Exhibits self-confidence and reliability
- Sense of right and wrong is growing
- Beginning to see things from another’s perspective
- Speech is nearly 100% intelligible
- Uses grammar correctly (i.e. past and future tense)
- Produces fairly elaborate sentence structures (about 5-7 words in length)
- Identifies all colours
- Can tell a familiar story
- Enjoys friendships and group activities
- Shares, takes turns, plays co-operatively (for the most part)
- Cares about things and people
- Follows directions well
- Has a sense of humour
- Better self-control with fewer dramatic swings of emotion
- Sings a whole song
- Beginning to match pitches consistently
- Developing ability to match to group steady beat
WHEN IS A CHILD READY FOR PRIVATE INSTRUMENTAL INSTRUCTION?
It’s possible that your child has expressed and interest in piano or other private lessons. You may have heard “I want to play the piano.” It sounds like he/she has made a mature decision to start all the hard work of learning an instrument. If you hear this, ask yourself the following questions before making the decision to enroll her in private study:
- Does she understand the enormous amount of dedication needed to learn to play an instrument?
- Is he ready to accept the rules, guidelines and suggestions of the teacher?
- Will she still be interested and not frustrated when the teacher asks her to play a certain way, or hold her hand in a certain position?
- Does he have the fine motor control as well as the maturity and attention span necessary for daily home practice?
- Can she concentrate daily for 15 to 30 minutes on a series of directed tasks?
- Will he thrive in a learning environment where it’s just he and the teacher, or does he learn best in a social, play-like setting?
In Kindermusik, your child is receiving the strongest foundation in movement, vocal development and listening, which will help her be successful when the time comes to learn an instrument. Research shows that he will remain motivated longer than a child without such a background.
In the book, Choosing The Right Instrument For Your Child, the authors claim that one of the most common factors in children’s musical failure is starting at the wrong time – too early. For most children, the best time to start learning their first instrument is some time between the ages of seven and ten years. If your child has a genuine interest in playing an instrument at 5 or 6 years of age, that interest will come back even more strongly in a couple of years when he is physically, emotionally and cognitively ready. You and your child will be happier if you wait. In the meantime, our Kindermusik for the Young Child program for 5 to 7 year olds, and the Recorder/Orff Ensemble for Young Child graduates prepare children for instrumental lessons while still having fun and learning through methods, which have been designed with your child’s unique developmental needs in mind.
THE RECORDER-ORFF ENSEMBLE FOR KINDERMUSIK GRADUATES
The Recorder-Orff Ensemble provides a stepping-stone to private music lessons, is an ideal preparation for future study on a wind or brass instrument, and prepares the child for participation in a band or orchestra. The program is designed for children who have finished the 4th semester of the Young Child program. The Recorder-Orff program includes singing, advanced recorder technique and repertoire development, improvisation, weekly at-home activities, movement activities, ensemble development, reading and writing musical notation and social interaction. Information and registration forms for this program will be distributed to all graduating Young Child children in late-April. Space is very limited so don’t be disappointed.