Who doesn’t think it’s adorable when a small child starts dancing as the music turns on, or when you see a child’s eyes light up when hearing their favourite song?
According to the Victorian Government’s Child Health & Development page, “Play, an important way for young children to learn, begins at birth. Playing together is one of the best things you can do with your baby.” They continue to list singing songs and playing simple games as some of the most effective ways to support your baby’s growth.
Across the Petit group, we are always looking for partners and experts who align with our values and approach to early learning.
Petit Early Learning Journey Wooloowin, North Shore Hamilton and Caloundra centres all help parents give their children this learning opportunity by holding Hush Little Baby Music classes each week.
Music Classes at Petit
The Hush Little Baby Music program “aligns with the Early Years Learning Framework and builds upon the principles of the Kodaly Philosophy.” The program focuses on music as a cornerstone for child development.
“Our programs are whole centre, rather than opt-in programs,” says Jennifer Teh, founding director of Hush Little Baby Early Childhood Music Classes. “Our teachers, who are all tertiary qualified musicians, go into the classrooms and every child in every single room is engaged in the music.”
Over a vast career spanning more than 15 years, Jen has taught music at every educational level, directed choirs, presented workshops, written papers for national and international conferences and symposia in music education, and carved out a career as a professional singer.
Jen says each class is tailor-made for the age and stage of development of the children in the room.
“When we go into, for example, the Baby Boulevard room, the program is quite different from what we do in a kindy room. Our planning takes into consideration the different developmental stages children are at in each room.”
Teachers visit each of the three Petit centres regularly throughout each term, and move from room to room rather than having the children change classrooms. The class lasts about 20-25 minutes per classroom.
Jen explains that a Hush Little Baby Music class begins with a greeting song. She says, “Our teachers might move into nursery rhymes, bring out puppets and sing songs with them. Then they might do some movements with the children using a rhyme or they might use hand percussion instruments that are just the right size for little hands.
They finish the class with a story and a goodbye song, and then when it’s over, the teacher pops all of her/his bits and pieces into a bag and moves onto the next room.”
If that next room happens to be a kindy room, then the class again starts with a hello song and finishes with a farewell song. Hush Little Baby teachers sing these same songs to give the children a clear sense of the beginning and end of a lesson. However, from this point forward, a kindergarten-level class differs from other classes because kindy children are able to explore more complex instruments, such as percussion instruments that allow for different levels of dexterity. For instance, a triangle requires a child to hold one hand still and move the other hand.
“There’s always lots and lots of singing,” says Jen. “All of our classes are based in singing because the singing voice is the only instrument that a child aged 0 to 5 is able to use consistently and successfully. It is also an equity issue because every child has a voice, and physiologically it is the only instrument they are ready to use in any meaningful way.”
Jen continues, “The children feel like they’re playing, and that’s what we are doing, we are playing and having lots of fun, but actually behind the scenes there’s a whole lot of development going on in terms of language and vocab development, cognitive development, social and emotional development. Also, there are musical skills being developed, such as being able to keep a beat or sing in tune, develop the singing voice or understand rhythm. It’s all done through play.”
Beyond the classroom activities, the Hush Little Baby Music program provides handouts each week for the parents and educators in an effort to link specific outcomes within the Early Years Learning Framework to the activities done in class. In addition, the centres receive booklets that contain a list of the songs and rhymes used, as well as the Early Learning Framework outcomes and sub outcomes.
Since the children like singing the songs in class, parents may hear them at home. Children love all the songs, but especially the ones about animals, such as “Five Speckled Frogs,” “Five Cheeky Monkeys Swinging in a Tree” and “I Went to Visit the Farm One Day.”
Children also enjoy when teachers bring out the chime bars and sing songs like “I Can Sing a Rainbow” and “Twinkle, Twinkle.” An exciting treat during class is when teachers play their ukulele. With this special musical accompaniment, children sing songs such as “I Am a Fine Musician.”
Tip for parents
What can parents do to support the musical development of their young children?
Jen says that “singing to and with your children is the absolute best thing parents can do. Parents should look at their children while they sing, hold their hands, bounce them on their laps; or if parents of a baby, then rock in arms.”
Nursery rhymes reign supreme as the best music for parents to use in the early childhood years. Jen says, “Nursery rhymes have been around for ages for a good reason because they are perfect in terms of engaging children, but also aiding their development in a number of ways.”
Interested in Petit Early Learning Journey?
All of our centres provide special, engaging experiences for our children, and we would be happy to take interested parents on a tour of their nearest Petit Early Learning Journey centre.