I LOVE teaching toddlers music! And I’ve been teaching them for about twenty years. I’ve even written a book, “The Musical Toddler,” with loads of great ideas for music activities with toddlers. Today I’d like to share a few tips for making sure every toddler in your group has positive, successful music experiences.
1. Slow it down. Yes, most of your toddler-students speak English, but they’re still learning. I’m learning Spanish at the moment, and I think I hablo pretty bien, but when I talk people who really speak Spanish, I appreciate it when they speak slowly! And when you’re giving directions to toddlers about how to play an instrument or do body motions, slower is better.
2. Use BIG motions. Toddlers naturally use big, sweeping movements. use songs that have them stretch their arms, clap, pat their thighs, stomp their feet, and just jump/bounce to the beat.
3. Skip the “Five little…” songs. These songs, in which children hold up five fingers, then four , then three, and so on, are not appropriate for toddlers’ level of motor coordination, and will only frustrate them. Save the monkeys, ducks and frogs for the older preschoolers.
4. Think vertical. Toddlers’ motions are mostly up-and-down, not side- to-side (it’s about that crossing-the-midline thing). Even when they’re waving, most of them will move their hands up and down. So when you move with them, move in vertical motions. They’ll feel more comfortable when they can easily dance the way they see you doing.
5. Most important – Smile! Have fun! Show enthusiasm and energy. Notice what they’re doing and compliment them. “I like the way Nathan is dancing!” or “Look at how Chantal is shaking her tambourine!” Enjoy yourself, and the toddlers will enjoy themselves too.
Teaching toddlers can be challenging, but their smiles and laughter are great rewards!