When All Else Fails, Sing
Don't forget to look for special bonus Kids Talk Songs following this week's column!
The dot on my hand darkened to black, deep black.
Wearing a plastic mood dot was part of my stress management class. If all went well, the dot shone blue. If not, it turned shades of bluish-black, to midnight.
In my preschool class, over the course of a couple of weeks, I noticed that certain events and activities turned my dot black--events that most moms and dads face everyday.
Transition times headed up my list of stressful moments. Moving from one activity to another, such as work time to lunchtime, lunch to recess, recess back to class and dismissals. Most parents report that going from one event to another (for example, from getting dressed to breakfast, breakfast to school, school to home or bath to bed) reigns as the times of day that their ''black dot'' appears.
Other black-dot instances coincided with those unpredictable moments that we have with children where everything can be calm and peaceful and then change to chaos, for no apparent reason, in a blink of an eye.
Determined to figure out how to create blue-dot moments, I kept a daily log. When I was actively involved giving lessons, reading a book out loud or singing, the mood dot showed blue skies. During interruptions, phone calls and transition times, storm clouds brewed across my dot, and I felt my impatience and grumpiness emerge.
Deciding to follow the advice of the old song, I became determined to ''accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative,'' to use my blue-sky activities to full advantage and to try to eliminate that stormy weather.
Interruptions and phone calls I minimized by setting limits. For transition times, I ventured to find a song or two for each changeover of activity. As we sang while changing activities, I noted that my mood dot stayed blue and could change from black to blue in less than 30 seconds.
In moments of chaotic classroom meltdown, when it would have been easier to yell, ''Please be quiet,'' I sang. Serendipitously, I found that when I sang in another language, the group quieted in seconds. I busied myself learning several songs in Spanish and German. My one Chinese song, though, consistently calms any preschool group. How? Developing language in preschoolers creates a fascination for new words, and they will stop to listen to something unfamiliar.
For transition times, I used songs such as ''Mary Wore Her Red Dress'' and ''Willabee Wallaby Wee'' to dismiss children one by one to a new activity. There were songs for clean-up time (One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, let's finish up, it's clean-up time). For lunch, we sang, ''This is the way we get ready for lunch.''
These songs helped create a routine and relieved my stress as well as the children's tension. Newcomers to the classroom adapted quickly with musical cues to aid in their assimilation.
Expectations become clear with our musical routine.
Here's wishing you blue-sky dots and days. Remember, when things start to get you down, sing.
Next week: Help with Stuttering
Special complimentary bonus for our readers: For the lyrics to Maren's transition songs in PDF format, along with a downloadable QuickTime file of Maren singing the songs, see below:
Kids Talk™ is a column dealing with early childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt. Mrs. Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland.
She has over 25 years experience working with young children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. She is also Creative Director for a video-based reading series for children ages three to six, The Shining Light Reading Series. Contact her via e-mail at email@example.com.
Complete Collection of the Shining Light Reading Series Now Available on DVD
Visit www.shininglightreading.com for more information.
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