Last Thursday, I had the absolute pleasure of attending a Musical Bumps class. Now don’t get this confused with the well known children’s game at a party; this specially designed organisation is made up of classes for babies (from birth) to five years to develop their learning and social skills through music education. Their program is designed and based on the Hungarian (Kodaly) methodology of Music Education.
If like me and your immediate thoughts are how on earth does this work and what does it involve, then you have come to the right place. In fact, the way in which Musical Bumps operates is probably one of the best pre-school organisations I’ve come across in my years of teaching. One of the nicest things that I learnt whilst observing classes is that there is a strong belief in learning traditional songs; however, this is immediately complemented by a sprinkling of songs from around the world. I have experienced first hand at how little the children I teach today know of traditional songs and nursery rhymes, which strikes me as disappointing. I am curious to know why these seem to be lesser in importance; do parents today genuinely not know them, or is it simply because there is not enough time? From my perspective as a teacher, I am having to squeeze so much into term time with regards to the curriculum. Perhaps it really is the constantly changing government educational goalposts, structured to the minute lesson plans or the completely frazzled and demoralised teachers that prevents firm family favourites from appearing into these young lives.
It was delightful and heart warming to hear songs I have not heard in years being joyfully sung, accompanied by lots of movement and added percussion.
The sessions were extremely relaxed and welcoming and although I was a complete stranger – totally out of place with no child in sight- I was soon captivated. It took me a little while to realise that each song was being sung by the teacher in charge; what a change (and relief) from pre-recorded song tracks! I was impressed by the level of engagement and interaction shown by the children and also how each song/activity was literally a couple of minutes or so before blending into the next one. This technique kept the pace of the session at a suitable level to maintain the interest of the children; with perhaps the odd escapee or mini tantrum, it was clear to see the positive impact on the children, as well as the parents.
Along with songs and actions was the use of props. Each designed to give a sensory experience, the children were able to follow very basic instructions when using them e.g. banging sticks together in a set rhythm or stopping an action at the right time. Encouragement and praise was awarded in bucket loads and there was an air of achievement and pride.
Time slipped by very quickly and all too soon the forty five minute session came to an end. Once the sessions were over, as I had the pleasure of observing two of them, I spoke to the teacher in more depth about the ethos of Musical Bumps, including its many achievements. Musical Bumps follows the Early Years curriculum and boasts a fun, engaging program that is easy to follow and remember. There is a healthy mixture of structured activities, with the added flexibility of socialising and free play should the need arise! Babies and young children continue to develop fundamental skills such as turn-taking, sharing, listening and joining in, which will play a very important role in the starting of their Primary education.
This insight to pre-school learning for me personally, highlights the importance of social interaction for young children in a relaxed and secure environment. It is organisations like these that I very much look forward to when the time comes for me to step up to being a mummy.