I can't begin to tell you how often parents approach me with concerns about their three-to-four-year-olds' participation in class. Here are just a few of the comments I hear over and over again:
Preschool children are experiencing a shift in awareness, becoming more cognizant of their surroundings. They are beginning to realize the world does not revolve around them, as it appeared to when they were two. This awareness drives many of them to start exploring movement through space in a bigger and more playful way, and they can do so with greater coordination.
You might notice, for example, that your child wants to dance or spin around at a time in class when everyone else is seated. This behavior is not a problem — in fact, we welcome it! Children learn naturally through exposure, experimentation, and play. They need to process all they are learning, and this processing often involves leaving the circle and coming back when the music or activity changes.
If this behavior sounds familiar, relax and enjoy watching your child explore this new awareness. She is still getting everything she needs to learn from the musical environment we are creating and the play we are modeling in class.
Some parents notice a different kind of behavior change: instead of participating in class, the child wants to sit still and listen. This may frustrate you, but again, rest assured that it's another manifestation of growing minds.
At this age, your child is becoming a more careful observer and listener, able to compare melodies or patterns he is hearing to his own attempts at musical expression. Hang in there, parents! This important developmental period often comes just before a child "breaks through" and achieves basic music competence.
Speaking of three-to-four-year-olds, many parents ask me if this age is too early to start piano or violin lessons. While each child is different, I can tell you that we strongly discourage starting formal music lessons before the child is developmentally ready.
So, how do you know when you child is ready? Here are five factors that must be in place for your child to have success with formal instruction:
Please remember this is an age when children still need to play. They have such a short period of time left before they reach elementary-school age, and as parents it's vital that we not rush them.
I would like to close by encouraging you to connect more than you correct in class. Let your children play, explore, experiment, and mature in our developmentally appropriate classes. This class is for them and for you, and we want you to build lifelong musical memories together.
So take a deep breath and enjoy the watching the wonder and magic of your three-to-four-year-old enjoying class in her own way. Your child is going through a transition that needs love and compassion. I promise you that they are learning in class … and I promise you they will grow up faster than you think.
Have you noticed changes in the way your three-to-four-year-old enjoys class? Please tell us about your experience in the comments below — we'd love to hear from you!
Blessings and peace,
P.S. Remember, pre-registration for currently enrolled Prelude families is now open for our Winter Session, beginning the week of January 2. Register today to keep the magic going … and if you haven't yet joined the Prelude family, this is a great time to sign up for a free "try me" class at a location near you!
Music is a universal language. It transcends boundaries and reaches beyond culture to touch the depths of our souls, express our common emotions, and inspire us all. Now serving 2,500 communities in over 40 countries, Music Together® connects families and communities across the globe as they express and explore our basic human instinct for making music.
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