Healthy Helps in Tough Times

It’s that time of year when our schedules and routines are being renegotiated and shuffled around again. It’s exciting to anticipate back to school, back to Kindermusik, and transitions in our daily lives.

But given the current state of the world, it’s also stressful! Planning the upcoming months under our present circumstances is a new challenge we haven’t met before. So as you adjust your routines and expectations, here are some ideas to build into your daily habits for keeping it healthy and keeping it happy.

1. Follow the Rhythm

Normally you hear advice about establishing a schedule. And yes, schedules can lead to routines that structure your day. If you have to be to a certain place at a certain time, schedules are essential. But if you’re now homeschooling, or your kids aren’t yet of school age, try following a rhythm as opposed to a schedule.

Our bodies have natural rhythms. So do our families! Your weekend rhythm might be different than your weekday rhythm. Your family rhythm might fluctuate depending on what configuration of caregivers are in the home, and how that configuration changes throughout the week and month.

Just as you listen to the beat of a song, and match your body’s movements to its rhythm, match your day’s tasks to the rhythm of your family. Follow the ebbs and flows of energy and tiredness, of alertness and sluggishness. Mold your daily activities around that rhythm.

2. Take a Walk

Studies show that getting outside is good for our mental health as well as our physical health. Maybe you’re not comfortable letting your kids play on the public playground at the park right now, but a walk is always a good idea. Send them on a visual scavenger hunt where they have to look for cracks in the sidewalk, a certain colored front door, unique yard art, ant colonies, etc.

Have them be sound detectives and go on a listening walk. Have them practice active listening so they can tell you what they heard. Birds chirping? Someone mowing their lawn? A truck driving by? A dog barking? Hummingbird wings? What else can you and your children hear?

3. Dance it Out

Joyful movement releases endorphins and decreases stress hormones. Who doesn’t want that? Especially nowadays! Your children are so perceptive that they will echo whatever energy you are putting out into your home. Stressed with distance working or learning? Your kids feel it too. One of the quickest and most sure-fire ways to break up the stress pattern and hit the reset button is to get up and move. Put on your favorite playlist or open the Kindermusik app and find a favorite tune from class, then invite your child to dance with you. You will BOTH feel INSTANTLY better.

4. Color and Crafts

Remember those Kindermusik online materials you have access to? Dust off an old unit you haven’t experienced in a while and print off a coloring sheet or craft page. There are so many ideas there for simple, quick, and easy activities you can do together at home. Or just pull out an old coloring book and some colored pencils. Let your child color outside the lines and use nontraditional colors for each element of the picture. As you color together, those feel-good hormones will flow.

5. Bring Back Family Dinner

It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It doesn’t have to take lots of ingredients or time. The simple task of teaching your child to set the table while you pull dinner out of the oven teaches them teamwork and responsibility. And then as you sit together at a table at the end of the day, it brings structure to the day, and kicks off the evening routine as you prepare for bed.

You could even put on some dinner music to set the mood, each night rotating which member of the family gets to choose the genre or playlist.

6. Set Quiet Hours

Every caretaker needs a break, some downtime, and some self-care. Is your little one too old fo nap time? Mandatory quiet time in their room is a gift to your child and to yourself. Put them to bed 30 minutes earlier. Require an hour of solitude in their room after lunch. This may be an extremely challenging one to implement, but it will reap rewards once your child learns to entertain themselves quietly for a while. Maybe they will read a book, look at pictures, color, do puzzles, play with toys, and just find ways to keep themselves to themselves. It’s a learned skill! And it gives you a few minutes to slip in a quick mindfulness meditation or cup of coffee. Put your own oxygen mask on first, grownups.

8. Give Yourself Grace

We are living in unprecedented times. It’s been a century since the last pandemic affected us this much. And we’ve never had to parent during a pandemic during the digital age before. Online learning, remote working, still trying to meet our regular responsibilities. Everyone’s cortisol levels are high right now. So give yourself some grace. You are doing a fantastic job. You’re showing up each day and giving your child what they need. You may not be perfect, you may not meet all their needs all the time, but you are doing amazingly. You are enough. Reconnect to your breath, and give yourself some grace. Carry on, Hearties.

Back to Basics

Ah, January. The magic of the holiday season is behind us. We have overdosed on fun and food, and on free-time and screen-time. Returning to the routines and schedules of work and school is both a relief and a shock to our system. The re-entry to responsibility after time off can a difficult adjustment. Good thing we had all those routines in place beforehand! They are like gold to parents now as we struggle to get back to normal.

Combine the holiday hangover with the cold temperatures, dreary gray sky, limited outdoor time, and dark mornings, and you have a tough month to get through.

Luckily you have Kindermusik at Song of the Heart to help you through this transition!

Kindermusic classes are filled with familiar routines, and as we welcome you and your children back into our studios, we hope getting back to normal here with us feels good to your brain and body. As with any re-start after a break, there can be some bumps in the road. Don’t be surprised if your child has a hard time settling down in class, or things feel a bit chaotic for a while. Don’t get discouraged! Your child is transitioning back, and that will take some time. We are here to support you!

Here’s a reminder of a few things you can do to ease this transition and get the most out of your time in our studio:

1. Partner up. Focus on bonding with your child during your time together in class. Pay attention to what they are doing and follow their lead. They’ll feel supported and connected.

2. Move! Get up off the rug and dance with your child. Part of this is partnering and part of it is allowing the movers who need to move the time and space to do so. If your child gets up off the rug and needs to explore the room, that’s fine! Go with them. Bring them back when they’re ready.

3. Presence. Put that cell phone down and lose yourself in the silliness and joy of whatever activity is happening. Throw your inhibitions out the door and let your inner-child dance. Your child will feel the difference when you are experiencing class with them instead of just attending class with them.

4. Use those Kindermusik Online materials. With each new unit we push out to you online support materials that can take the Kindermusik experience from the studio and into your home. A dreary January afternoon is the perfect time to do a Kindermusik curriculum-related craft, dance, video, or activity. These resources are included with the cost of your monthly tuition and are a great way to transform your child’s screen time from one of disconnection to one of developmentally appropriate engagement and connection.

We are so glad to be back in the studio with you and your families this New Year!

Rituals vs Routines

We are now five weeks into the new Kindermusik season (can you believe it?) and by now you and your child should be familiar with the routines and rituals of our studio. These routines and rituals have a variety of intentional purposes.

The words routine and ritual are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are important differences.

Our Hello and Goodbye routines that start and end each class provide a structure of stability for your children. This structure signals to them that it is time to begin class and helps them with the transitions into and out of class. Having a routine built into the class gives children a sense of security and a sense of comfort. It also helps them regulate their behavior and manage their expectations.

We’re sure you have routines in your family life, certain patterns of behavior that help you or your child move from one task to another throughout the day. The lack of these routines is why summer and the holiday season is at first freeing, but ultimately too much of a good thing. There’s always a bit of a sigh of a relief when the vacation is over and the family returns to the normalcy and stability of routine.

But routines are different from rituals, which also have a beneficial and intentional purpose. A ritual is a specific action or set of actions that help us regulate our emotions, build relationships, and mark significant events or transitions in our lives. A wedding is a ritual. A bar mitzvah is a ritual. A christening. But so is meditation, prayer, yoga practice, etc.

Conscious Discipline teaches about I Love You Rituals, which we incorporate into many of our classes. The purpose of these rituals is to build CONNECTION between you and your child, because research has shown that CONNECTION builds COOPERATION. Again, it’s a set of discrete actions that are done in sequence that form the basis for interpersonal bonding.

It’s no different than the timeless classic nursery rhyme “this little piggy went to market” that you lovingly recite when you have your baby on the changing table. It is a moment where you repeat a set of actions with the intention of regulating your emotions, or building a bond, or marking an event. Our handstamp ritual at the end of class is another example; it provides a moment when your educator can bond one-on-one with your little one with a little eye contact, a little touch, a little smile, and a goodbye.

Routines and rituals can definitely have overlap, but they are different things with different purposes. BOTH are necessary for children to form attachments, build connection, feel security, so that they can GROW and develop into their best self.

What routines and rituals do you have in your family? Do you incorporate any you have learned at Kindermusik? If not, try one at home that your educator has taught you. And then let them know how it went!

Welcome Back!

It’s Welcome Week here at Song of the Heart Studios and we are THRILLED to see you and your child’s shining eyes once more. We are in full swing teaching classes, reestablishing routines, forging new connections, and managing all the chaos that seems to accompany the return to the studio.

It is our mission that when you walk through our doors and experience a Kindermusik class with us, that your hearts will sing and your children will flourish. Everything we do as a studio and as educators is done intentionally with that aim in mind, as we strive to give you a stellar experience.

However, with the start of a new season, there may always be some bumps in the road. If your child is new to our studio or even just been away for a few weeks, the transition back into our routines can take some time. It is completely NORMAL for your child to act differently in class than they do at home. It is normal for them to seem overwhelmed, or shy, or hyperactive, or unsure. Our best piece of advice to ease this transition is to be patient. Give it time. Remember that repetition and consistency is KEY for children to learn.

Our delightful routines that take place in each class are carefully and intentionally structured to signal to your child what is about to happen and what is expected of them. As they (and you!) learn how our Kindermusik classes are run, their behavior will settle and become more predictable, your experience will become more consistently joyous, and you will see the benefits in their development over the course of the year. Raising these little ones is a marathon, not a sprint; we are overjoyed at the opportunity to be a part of this season in their development.

Now Let’s Sing!

Routines & Rituals

Have you noticed that our Kindermusik classes always start and end the same way? Even sprinkled throughout the class are little rituals and cues that give your child an expectation of what to do next. This is intentional. You’ll find these routines consistent from class to class, with creative variations between educators and level. We carefully craft these routines not just for fun, but to enhance learning and social cooperation.

Childhood is growth. And by very definition that means children experience change on a near-constant basis. Change is unsettling and can be hard for children to cope with. That’s why routines are so crucial. Routines have been shown to give children a sense of security and safety. It helps them know what to expect next and how to behave in certain circumstances. It sets them within a frame of predictability and comfort in which they can then explore, learn, play, and discover.

Structure teaches children how to control themselves and their environment. It facilitates constructive habits and life skills. From brushing their teeth, to feeding themselves, to cleaning up after themselves, routines make all these lessons easier to learn.

In Kindermusik we have routines to wake up our brains and bodies, to focus attention, to add cohesion to the group, to foster cooperation, and to signal to you and your child that this is a place that is predictably joyful. With routines in place and expectations set, connection and growth will follow.

Is your little one having trouble with putting away their toys at home? Sing-song “Toys away!” will remind them of how we clean up after ourselves at the Kindermusik studio, and will give them instant information about what you expect. Turn any orders you might need to give your child (example: “Find your shoes!”) into a song, and you’ve just created a new neural pathway to help them understand and follow through. And always finish with an encouraging “You did it!”

Try adopting one of our little routines at home, or develop your own, and see if it helps make a bumpy part of your day a little smoother. We’d love to hear about it!