MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Military dependents and their parents rocked out to the beat of drums, maracas and children’s songs during a Kindermusik class at Tarawa Terrace Community Center in the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune housing area, Oct. 28.
“Kindermusik is a music and movement program that focuses on social, emotional, language, physical – both fine-motor and gross-motor movement – cognitive and musical development in a child,” said Melissa Russell, the Kindermusik instructor.
The 45-minute class was open to children ages 18 months to 3 years old.
The course is taught for a few weeks every semester. Although this semester’s class at the TTCC is concluding, Russell said she plans to start it again early next year.
Anyone with a Department of Defense identification card may register.
This semester’s theme was “Milk and Cookies.”
The kids started the class by singing songs, waving their hands in the air and dancing with their mothers. They also played with egg shakers, blocks and colorful scarves. Afterward, they gathered together on a blanket where Russell read them a book about baking cookies. After playing a game where the children held hands in a circle, the mothers held their children in their arms and rocked them. Finally, they ended the day by nibbling on snacks – some of which were milk and cookies.
Kindermusik chooses different themes every semester and incorporates various life skills that are vital to child development.
Interactive games and transitioning from one activity to the next helps children develop social skills, said Russell.
“To watch how the kids, from the first class session, would only go from holding their parent’s or caregiver’s hand to holding their friend’s hand, and actually walking with that friend they didn’t know before, is very exciting,” said Russell. “Little things like that are what Kindermusik is all about.”
Ethan Rule and Daniel Macsay met during Kindermusik and now play together and share snacks. Macsay gave Rule some pretzels in exchange for some of his goldfish crackers.
“I shared with Ethan, too,” said Macsay.
Russell added social interaction isn’t just limited to the children, but Kindermusik also provides an opportunity for the adults to meet people and make new friends.
“Some of the parents do make a connection and carry it outside of this group,” said Russell. “So this is an opportunity for them to get to know each other.”
Russell said it isn’t just the energetic activities that kids thrive on, but activities like hugging children and rocking them are just as crucial to the well-being of both adults and kids.
“The ‘learned relax’ that (parents) get from simply rocking their child gives them the sense they can control their bodies and the power to calm themselves,” explained Russell. “They bond from hugging and being close. Rocking stimulates the inner ear for better coordination and balance.”
She added, “What most people don’t realize is that you’re not only rocking your child, but you’re also helping them with their physical development.”
Kindermusik is a worldwide program available to children ranging from newborns to 7-year-old kids.
Russell said this was an excellent educational opportunity for families with transient lifestyles, and she encouraged military parents to locate Kindermusik teachers and programs for children who thrive in an active-learning environment.
“You can go online and type in the zip code of your new location and find a Kindermusik program wherever you go,” said Russell. “The teacher will be different, the faces will be different, but the structure and what you’re able to give to your child through Kindermusik will be the same, so I think that’s important.”
Carson Chavis has been attending the class since September and was full of smiles and laughter as she participated in the class. Chavis’ mother said Carson has always loved music and has learned a lot over the past few months.
“I’ll start singing one of the songs from the CD and she’ll instantly recognize it,” explained Chavis’ mother. “She loves the instruments, the colorful scarves, and she’ll pick up things from other kids. She’s had a great time.”
For more information about Kindermusik, call the Tarawa Terrace Community Center at 450-1687 or visit the website at kindermusik.com.