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Nick Young’s Ultimate Guide to Class Management for Early Childhood Music Groups

Music Class PhotoHere is our kids music class management system. We are very excited to share these important tools with you that will help you make Music Time in your classroom and home a fun and enriching time for you and the children that you work with.
One of the main reasons that preschool teachers avoid music and movement time in their classrooms is because they have not yet mastered the important tools of class management that apply to these kinds of activities.
I have been leading music groups in preschool classrooms for over twenty years. Over that time I have developed these basic principals that guarantee a positive music experience for teacher, parent and student alike. Use these tools, and music and movement time will become one of your favorite activities.

Watch these videos to see how well these tools work!


Getting Started

Group Leadership:

Question: How do I keep 20 three year old’s engaged for 30 minutes?

Answer: Establish yourself as the focus of attention by becoming the “Shiny Object” in the room.

Use These Tools:

• Energy and Enthusiasm

• Be fully committed, engaged and excited bout what you are presenting

• Brisk Pace

• Engaging Curriculum/Material (Like the Pirate Treasure Hunt Adventure!)

Your Goal: to entice the group to join you on the “Music Express”. The group will jump on the train that is moving briskly down the track. If the train slows down or stops, the passengers will disembark. Keep the momentum of the class moving so that the children will stay engaged and not get distracted.

What are the potential distractions?

• The Environment of your Group Space

• Toys and games on classroom shelves

• Adult voices in the room

• Other activity in the room

• Other Group Members

• Children who are, talking with friends, wandering away from the group, bumping or pushing their friends or laying on the floor etc.

Note: Distractions can spread through the group if not managed swiftly.

Important: Always be positive, never punitive. The group is soaking up your energy. If you get negative and dictatorial, scolding and belittling, the group will lose it’s bright, shiny, fun energy.

What do you do about Distractions?

Use positive language and actions to adjust the chemistry of the group without slowing down the Music Express.

Tools of Class Management Pt.1

Let’s Get Specific:

Minor behavior issues indicate a need to change what you are presenting. If the children are getting distracted it’s probably because what you are presenting is not holding their attention. Try something different. Change the type of material. Up the energy. Increase movement or decrease if already in high gear.

Morning Classes: The children have lot’s of nervous energy to burn up so start out the group with vigorous movement songs.

Afternoon Classes: They may be tired, hungry and hot from paying outside on a sunny day. Start the group with some calm, cooling down songs.

Rainy Day: They may have been indoors all day and be bursting with energy. Hit them with several high energy movement activities in fast succession. They will love it and their teachers and parents will love you for it too.

Important: Knowing what material to present at any given moment depends on your ability to gauge the group from moment to moment. 90% of group management issues will be resolved with your mastery of this  ability.


Tools of Class Management Pt.2

Behavior Issues:

Sometimes certain children will exhibit very distracting behavior and threaten to derail the Music Express. Here is our system of graduated steps that will solve any behavior situation.

Note: Learn to respond, not react when challenging behavior issues arise. Keep in mind that, like adults, children have many reasons to act out in a disruptive way. When you have gained the skill and tools to deal with any behavior issue you will come to enjoy helping challenging children find a path to enrichment and positive participation in the music group.

Through this system you are doing the important work of helping children gain social skills that they will use throughout their lives. It’s an important job, a big responsibility and wonderful gift that you are in a position to give to the children in your group.

The System

When you encounter particularly challenging behavior in your music group there are three steps that will help you guide the disruptive group members to positive participation.

Step 1. Adjust the “Chemistry” of the group: Cheerfully and quickly move the child to a different spot in the circle. Move her from a spot where she is near friends that she likes to roughhouse with to a spot where she will be near some children with calmer energy. Say “Suzy, I have a special spot for you to move to right over  here!” You vocal inflection should send the signal that “this is a fun thing!” not “I am punishing you!”

Step 2. Give a Choice: Say “I am noticing that your body is not ready for music right now. Are you able to choose to make it work in music group today?” Usually the child will indicate that she is ready to choose to make it work.

Step 3. Give A Consequence: If Step 1 and Step 2 fail to change a child’s behavior you may need to ask them remove themselves from the group and sit in a chair nearby. Make it clear that they are free to rejoin the group as soon as they are ready to choose to make it work. They will often rejoin the group immediately. This is ideal. If this step fails you may need another adult to assist you by helping the child to sit by them, outside the group, and observe the remaining group time. After the class and before the next class with that child have a brief meeting/pep talk with the child giving encouragement for their positive participation in the music time. Say “Suzy, I know that you are going to choose to make it work in the music group and you will get to play the instruments and have a super fun time!”

Note: Never be punitive!! Your vocal inflection, body language and choice of words should indicate that you are calm and respectful. You are empowering the child to make a choice for themselves about what they want to do. This is a critical teaching moment and potentially very important in the child’s development and the future success of the group.

We know that these tools will help you to create Magical Music Moments in your classroom and home. Every group is different and every child is unique, but this system has helped thousands of children to enjoy fun and enriching music times for over twenty years and they will work for you too.

This kids music class management system is part of our PlayMotion Music System. Click here to learn how you can teach music for the kids in your classroom and home.

We love to hear from you about your music time! Please contact us:

email: contact@youngmusiccompany.com

office: (562) 537-4187

website: www.YoungMusicCompany.com

Thank You From Nick & Jen and The Young Music Company™