Sunday, November 14, 2010

How do I meet the needs of 5, 6 and 7 year olds?

Ms. Dorothy -
I am running a music enrichment program with Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students. I'm experienced in doing this with older students, like middle or high school, and these high energy young ones are uncharted territory for me! Couple of questions for you.. How do I teach and engage to that level? Or what are some key principles to keep in mind for this age? How best do I look at this class and how to hold the space appropriately to allow their knowledge and beats to flourish? How do I keep it fun and engaging for all the ages? Help?!
- Music teacher

High School to Kindergarten is a big leap. No wonder you are feeling unsure of yourself! Those little guys need as many opportunities for expression as they can get, so I know this is going to be a great experience for all of you.

First of all, relax, and don't sell yourself short. You know what you are doing when it comes to the material, and students are students, no matter how tall they are.

Essentially you can't teach a room, or an age, or a grade; all you can teach is the person in front of you. Get to know these students for who they are. They will show you what is important to them within the first few minutes.

I like to think of it as putting the students first and letting the content be a tool. Instead of teaching Music to young children, try teaching young children the whys and hows of Music. There is a difference. It works for any content you want to teach, and any students.

Be prepared to move with them, to be excited with them, to get loud with them, and to enjoy them. They will need some order and routine to help them understand the structure of their time with you, and they will need variety and novelty to stay engaged.

The best thing you can bring them is a challenge, so don't be afraid of using the same language and content you would teach older students. Just break it down with them to things that are familiar and let them share how they connect to it.

Basic principles to keep in mind when working with children: Smile often. Sing instructions. Establish routines. Be genuine. Follow their lead. Respect their individuality. Enjoy their creativity. Inspire them with possibilities. Encourage them with laughter. Believe in them.

And Have fun!

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