What is Suzuki Early Childhood Education?
Suzuki ECE classes are mixed age music and movement classes for students ages zero to 4 years. Children learn from one another by observing each other and participating. Young babies and children new to the class may observe many times before they are ready to have their turn. During this time they are learning by observing and their brains are developing, preparing them for the moment they are ready to try. Older children have the opportunity to develop leadership skills by demonstrating a skill so that they other children may learn from them.
Parent involvement is critical and a parent attends each class as an active participant. Parents joyfully sing and dance, modeling each activity in class for the children around them. Parents also provide encouragement for the children through hugs, smiles, or other forms of positive feedback. Early in the stage of development a parent may take a listening turn with their child. Eventually the child will take their turn independently and even begin to move away from the parent for their turn. Parents also work to create a calm environment in the classroom by helping to keep the focus. They also actively help keep the calm by removing and refreshing their child if they are causing a disruption. Once their child’s calm is restored, they return to the class.
Environment nurtures growth. Weekly classes provide a calm and structured environment in which children will develop rhythm and melodic awareness, social skills, taking turns, focus through listening and concentration, fine and gross motor skills, singing and pitch matching, self confidence and self expression, group participation, language through vocabulary development, and creativity and sensitivity. We use a set repertoire from the SECE CD (Lullabies, Actions Songs and Rhymes by Dorothy Jones), which includes traditional lullabies, action songs, and nursery rhymes. Each family will have a CD for listening and singing at home. It is important to listen daily as the same repertoire is used in classes. Repetition and review combined with positive feedback will provide an opportunity for development and learning.
Ability develops early, allowing us to observe these skills in young babies. One activity we use in class is to roll the ball. Young babies will first learn to focus and concentrate on the ball as they sit in their parent’s arms. The next step you might see is their eyes tracking the ball, developing their sense of turn taking and focus. Once the baby can sit and have observed their parents, teachers, and the other children roll the ball many times, they may begin to experiment with their own ability to roll the ball, beginning to develop their motor skills. Their self confidence will develop through successfully rolling the ball (success breeds success) and positive feedback from those around them (encouragement is essential). Once they can roll the ball they are participating more actively in social skills such as turn taking and sharing, as well as developing sensitivity. They may also be working to regulate their emotions as they wait their turn. During this process they are also listening to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, developing an inner sense of beautiful music. During cuckoo they are not only using the aforementioned ball rolling skills, but also listening and beginning to match the pitch with their voice. Once they feel ready they will take their solo “here I am, here I am.” Every child can learn to do these skills given the time, opportunity, and proper environment.
In class, children have the opportunity to hear and play musical instruments such as drums, glockenspiel, triangle, xylophone, and shakers. In addition to playing instruments, children will sing, dance, listen, participate in rhythmic activities, clap, be involved in social interactions, read, and count. Story time is included with each class. Parents will participate in parent education topics, observing, participating, helping, encouraging, and journaling. Children learn from each other, the teachers, and the parents as singing, nursery rhymes, and rhythmic activities are modeled for them.
The SECE curriculum was developed by Dorothy Jones, a world renowned Suzuki specialist in Early Childhood Education. It takes the core Suzuki principles used in Suzuki instrumental lessons and is designed to develop the whole child musically, emotionally, mentally, and intellectually. SECE classes prepare children for environments such as music lessons, school, and other group activities.