The World Citizen Baby program gives us many opportunities to explore our world and bond with our children through the lens of art and culture.
When I tell people that I teach music to babies and toddlers, and that some of my students start as young as 6 weeks old, people looked shocked. "What can a 6-week-old do? Don’t they just sit there?" These questions stem from a culture that thinks of music as a performance medium, not knowing all of the neurological development that is associated with music at a very young age.
Cognitively, the possibilities are endless. Babies’ brains are amazing little sponges, just waiting to absorb everything they can. The language ability in infants during the first year is incredible. The potential for every sound that is possible by humans is in their brains, just waiting for exposure so they can practice it. Music and language learning is very intertwined. Having a variety of live music exposures will help your child not only develop their innate musical ability, but also language, math, reasoning, etc.
What does this mean for your baby in class? This means that although they have limited motor skills, the information is being absorbed, processed and digested during this time, creating neural pathways which stimulate communication and patterning centers in the brain. As they develop motor abilities, the information is there and all that is left is to apply what they have instinctively learned. Like speaking, they will just know how to communicate through rhythm and melody, and all it takes is practice to get their arms, legs, hands and feet working together to express the musical ideas in their head. This intense motivation to express rhythm will in turn help them to develop their fine and gross motor skills as they grab, shake, and strike instruments, not to mention coordinate their body by dancing, jumping, standing on one foot, kicking, or swinging their arms, all of which we do in class as part of musical expression.
A baby’s first singing starts at a very young age, even as early 3 – 4 months old. To express melody, infants begin to coo in the key of the music. Often this comes as soon as we end a song; they will begin cooing (usually on the base note or 5th) in an effort to extend the musical experience. Or, while we are singing, they will follow the basic melody line with coos and squeals of delight.
Another great benefit we give your baby is the opportunity to interact with other babies…and for YOU to be with other parents who are going through all of the same tremendous life changes. The community for babies and parents is invaluable. Babies and toddlers learn how to safely reach out to and play with each other, and parents get to compare notes about each new developmental milestone, and the coping skills that accompany them.
Of course, we can't forget the wonderful bonding that happens with your baby as together you explore musical play. Through engaging them in very age-specific ways, we learn new ways to play, to stimulate them, to let them experience music in as many ways as possible. They are depending on YOU for most of the input they get in the class. I give you the ideas for you to follow in class, so you can take them home and enjoy them throughout the week.
To your baby, your voice is the sweetest voice in the world. Sing! Your touch is the best in the world. Your energy focused on them is the greatest gift. The first years go so fast. Before you know it they are crawling, walking and running, and a brand new level of development and different kind of play is appropriate. Take advantage of those precious early months and years; the connection will last a lifetime. More and more research shows the many benefits of early music training, especially within the first year. It's never too early to start exposing your child to and engaging your child in musical play.
World Citizen Baby “Babies” classes are designed especially for babies from birth to 9 months and their caregivers. This class uses an immersion approach to lay a foundation for lifelong learning. With a focus on parent-child contact, we use songs and chants in several languages including Spanish, Portuguese, and Hebrew to experience rhythms and sounds from around the world, while learning specific ways to engage and play with your baby. We concentrate on activities that enable even the youngest babies to internalize rhythm and melody, through hands-on interaction with their grownups.
World Citizen Baby “Mixed Age” classes are for children ages 9 months to 4 years old and their parents and/or caregivers. This interactive and active class gives you and your child the opportunity to explore the diverse music and movement of our global community through call and response singing, instrument play along, small and large movement and lots of drumming. Class is conducted in English, and songs are sung in several languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, French and Zulu.
A Typical World Citizen Baby class:
- Funga Alafia – our opening song
- Small movement or lap activities – children feel the rhythm of the music through their grownups’ bodies, and developing eyes track on even the simplest finger plays.
- Instrument play – with sticks, bells, egg shakers, scarves and other props, we explore the melody of songs and break down their rhythms.
- Large movement activities – Young babies will move around the room in their caregivers’ arms, while locomoting infants and toddlers can move in their own ways as we coordinate our movements as a group.
- Free dance – an opportunity for free-expression dance party!
- Instrument play – our weekly “all star jam” with a variety of instruments for the children to explore
- Drumming – A fundamental part of the WCB class, dissecting rhythms of songs with our large gathering drum and hand drums is a highlight of each meeting
- Lullaby – a soothing opportunity to wind down together
- Boa Viagem – our weekly send off song, complete with kisses and hugs all around