As I’ve said time and again, we are big fans of Kindermusik. Apart from the program, it does have a lot to do with our Maestro Rebecca. The girls LOVE her, and absolutely adore her. Sam asks me everyday if she can go to Kindermusik and see Rebecca. I learn so much from her as a parent, not just about how to be a better parent to my girls, but about music as well (Here’s a little trivia about me: Once upon a time, music was my favorite subject in school. I took piano lessons too for several years and immersed myself in the lives of the composers. I know that Schubert’s birthday is 2 days after mine. Also, my grandparents would take me along to whatever Symphonic concerts were playing as a grew up. I remember falling asleep thru a majority of them, but I cannot deny that it did help develop my musicality — or whatever little of it I have retained).
Sam has been going to Kindermusik for about two and a half years already (Jamie has been going all her life, haha!), and has recently moved up to the big kids class called, Imagine That!, where the parents stay downstairs for the first 30 minutes while the kids have their fun with Rebecca upstairs. Sam is always rushing into the house and up the steps. She doesn’t even look back when she shouts over her shoulder, “Bye Mom! See you later!”. The last 15 minutes, the adults are called back into the class, and Rebecca and the kids debrief us all. She also gives out the homework or the guide to look at in the take home materials. Call me crazy, but I love it. We are a family that makes full use of the home materials and activities, and I am glad I am learning it if only because I would like Jamie to make use of it too someday.
Anyway, the first project was to help our kids make an instrument. The kids could do whatever they wanted with it, and call it whatever they wanted to, no matter how factual or how silly it sounded, in relation to their lesson on timbre and how different sounds are made. To make a long story short, Sam made what she calls a Jumping Rainbow Drum. It was an empty can covered with rainbow-colored strips of paper and stickers, with pompoms and a vitamin can filled with safety pins as its internal percussion (She wanted to put pompoms, I don’t know…). We used crepe paper so that she could hang it around her neck, and she claims that you play the instrument by jumping around. Of all the 5 drums that we have here at home, that is her favorite one. She even wanted to bring it to school for their “show and share” time. That’s how proud she is of her creation. She plays with it everyday too, and looks for it when she can’t seem to find it.
The second project was to make a boat. Rebecca’s instructions were to allow the children to dictate the process, even if the outcome did not look like a boat. What’s important was that they could explain it back to her and tell her how they were able to make it.
For this one, I decided to let Sam do this with her Daddy. Of course they waited until the last day (Sam and I made her drum the day after the assignment was given… ah the difference between men and women!) to work on it. My husband was having a little trouble with the assignment, because he kept looking for a set of instructions that they could follow, and all I could give him were Rebecca’s instructions. In the end, I helped him guide her through the exercise (because all Sam said she needed was paint and she kept mixing the colors around. And then she ended up slightly frustrated because she didn’t ask him for windows when she wanted some!). My husband couldn’t wrap his head around the final product that it didn’t look like a boat. Sam insisted on putting 4 wheels with the 4 windows she installed, but again she was so happy and so proud of what she had made.
Interestingly enough I related the process to Rebecca and she did say that it is normal and difficult for parents to hold back and let the kids do their own thing. She said it’s good practice for when they’re older and need to make things or write their own essays. Sometimes as a parent you itch to do it the “right” way and do it for them, when what’s important is that they try to figure it out themselves. And they are prouder of the outcome and can speak about it, no matter what the end result is. So it is a learning process for both the parent and the child. Plus at this age, they can see it in their heads and to them it makes sense. As for the boat, again Sam was so proud of what she had made, and she could really appreciate that it was hers and not someone else’s project. Plus, if you talk to her about her boat, she can tell you every single aspect of it.
If you ask Sam about her favorite toys, the Jumping Rainbow Drum and this silly little boat rank as one of the top two on her list. I suppose a part of the reason is because she put so much more of herself into them, no matter how “imperfect” both turned out to be. In her world, they are the best things in the world.
The two exercises were eye openers for me and it made me reflect on my parenting style over the girls. When to help and guide and when to just let go and let things be can be tricky. If you think about it, as they get older, it’s also about letting their personality shine through and not dictating what I think is best for them. Sometimes as parents, our good intentions to help overshadow and overpower our kids’ abilities to just do things themselves their way. The end result may not always be our ideal output if we had a say in it, but it’s important to be conscious enough to step back and let them work through it on their own. At the end of the day, for as long as they are proud of what they’ve accomplished, are happy with the end result and have learned something in the process, then that is really all that matters.