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! At this time of year, older 4 year-olds are better served staying in Imagine That! rather than moving up to Young Child. That’s because Young Child is a sequentially-based curriculum, whose building blocks your child will not have had during the fall. One more semester of Imagine That! will solidly prepare him for Semester One of Young Child, which begins next September. 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 30-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”. 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 to include children who have just turned 3 years. 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

In the Spring, we’ll look at moving from Imagine That to Young Child and when is a child ready for private instrumental lessons. Until then, have a musical day!

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