Today's question is one I hear a lot from families who are new to Music Together. Why don't you have classes for just preschoolers? Or just toddlers? What is with this mixed-age model?
This is an interesting question, and it really hits at the core of the Music Together philosophy. Something we know is that children all develop differently, at different rates, and in different orders. Even the physical milestones you get from your pediatrician are broadly defined, and musical development is no different. So, putting children of like ages together will not guarantee that they are at the same stage of musical development.
Another thing we know is that children can learn a lot from watching children of different ages. Older children can learn about leadership, empathy, and confidence, needing to learn to watch out for their smaller counterparts in class and helping the teacher with instruments. Younger children learn through imitating the older children. Have you ever noticed that babies with older siblings seem to master complex behaviors a bit earlier than the first-born did? Close proximity to older children affects a baby's development positively.
Many parents are happy to be able to come to one class with both of their children, and the mixed-age environment helps simulate the multi-sibling environment that only children don't get at home. Having children of a variety of ages - as well as grandparents, cousins, caregivers, and parents - coming together in class creates a loving family atmosphere that contributes to our goal of a more musical society.
It's true that some Music Together centers offer a Babies Only class. This class is more gentle and is only for the youngest babies. After one session, baby is ready to move on to the mixed-age class where a whole new world of music will open up to them. (At Music Together with Alexia, we currently only offer the Mixed-Age class, however, a Babies Only class could be coming soon. If that's something you or a friend would be interested in, please let us know!)
If you'd like to explore this subject more deeply, this article does a great job of explaining the research that supports mixed-age grouping, when the teacher has planned the classroom that way, with corresponding curriculum (which we do!).
Do you have a question you'd like answered? Reply here or at Facebook with the hashtag #AskAlexia, and I'll put on my thinking cap to get it answered! See you next week!