Gathering Time: A Good Beginning

Every Kindermusik class begins before it begins.

Let me explain.

You enter the building, take off your shoes, lay down your bag, and enter your Kindermusik classroom.

Your educator greets you with a song and smile and has thoughtfully laid out instruments, books, puzzles, or other manipulative before you even walk in the room.

Your child plays with a prop or instrument. You read them a book. You pass the time while you wait for the rest of your class to arrive, for the door to close, and the fun to begin.

You look at the clock. You notice that your educator hasn’t started the warmup or the Hello Song until 5-7 minutes PAST the official “start time” of your class.

Guess what? Class already HAS started. That time before class “officially” begins is what we call Gathering Time. It is a soft start for you and your child. It is a crucial transition time for your child to prepare to learn.

We are not just passing the time and waiting for the others. We are intentionally creating an environment, a space, and giving the time your child needs to ready themselves. It is a developmentally appropriate way to signal to their brains that learning is about to start.

This has a few benefits. First, it gives anxious or shy children time to adapt to the new environment before being asked to participate. A new room and new faces can be very overwhelming to a child. Some children run in and are ready to rock and roll. Others need time to transition.

Secondly, it provides your children with a routine that signals to them the end of one activity and the beginning of another. Children’s brains take 12 times longer than an adults’ to process information. Part of that brain work is learning they are in a new space and need to adapt to what is newly being expected of them.

Thirdly, it gives your child a chance at autonomy. Soon they are going to be asked to engage in all sorts of group activities and they need a chance to assert some independence, explore at their own pace, and feel confident in the space beforehand. They may need time to explore the classroom and sate their curiosity about the environment before they will be ready to sit down and participate.

Fourth, it brings a sense of calm and readiness for the whole class. It gives everyone a chance to greet their friends and prepare for the connective and unifying activities we’re about to engage in.

If you come running into class a minute or two late you are missing out on some of the developmental benefits of Kindermusik because your child is missing that readiness phase. When you come rushing in they have little time to transition and prepare. They may not be ready to go from napping in a car seat or working hard at school to go straight into musical learning. This can result in a diminished class experience for your child, and potentially even in their exhibiting difficult or distracting behaviors.

We get it. We’re parents too. We know how hard it is get places on time when your children delay, or traffic is bad, or the carpool was late, or your little one needs a snack. We have endless empathy for the chronically late family and you are ALWAYS welcome regardless of whenever you arrive.

But perhaps you can recommit to getting to class right on time or 2-3 minutes early so that your child doesn’t miss out on this crucial transition time. It’s intentional. It’s developmentally necessary. It creates a mood where your child can do their best work and have the best experience.

And it gives YOU the opportunity to calm your nervous system, release whatever stress you’ve been feeling about being in traffic or finding those little shoes, and prepare yourself as well. When you are prepared you can be more fully present, more completely connect, and experience the JOY of a Kindermusik class with your child.