CENTER AND CLASS POLICIESContact Information
Karen Abraham, MT-BC, MME-MT, director and teacher
785-887-3950 (office) 785-393-3575 (cell)
Class Start Time and Ritual
The "Hello Song" is a beloved ritual that welcomes the children at the beginning of each class and eases their transition into class. Plus, children delight in hearing their own name in the Hello Song. We plan to start classes promptly, so please try to arrive to class on time, or a few minutes early!
Missed Classes and Make-Up Policy
All families are allowed 3 make-up classes per session to be used within the current session only. Use our online Make-Up Scheduler to find a make-up class that fits your schedule. You can also use the Make-Up Scheduler if you know in advance you are going to miss a class. Make-up spots are limited (so class size does not get out of hand), so please be sure to arrange it ahead of time, and don't wait till the very end of the semester. If it turns out you will not be attending your scheduled make-up, please cancel it on the Make-Up Scheduler or let me know, so another family can take the spot.
Maintaining a Healthy Environment
Please if you or your child is sick, do not come to class - plan to come to another class to make up an absence. (See make-up policies, above.)Minimize germs. The best defense against catching an illness is to wash your hands and your child's hands before and after class. I wash all instruments that have been mouthed after each class. If you are concerned, you may bring your own instruments for your child to use. We use quite a few "real" instruments that are not rated for under-threes; I check any instruments that may come apart when I clean them, but if your child is a "mouther", please keep a close eye on him/her anyway, for extra safety. It is even possible for a child to get an entire shaker egg in his mouth - just be aware.
Food and Drink
Please do not bring food into the classroom. Food presents a choking hazard when singing or moving actively. (Sorry, grown-ups - this also applies to your chewing gum!) Some children have food allergies which can be severe. Also, food can create a distraction from the music. If the children know it's there, they will be tempted to "need" a snack. Try to give your child a meal or snack shortly before arriving at class. Water bottles/cups and breast-feeding in class are always fine.
Each family is allowed one scheduled child guest or sibling per semester (exception: infant siblings 7 months or younger at semester start date may attend the semester for free.) A $15 donation is suggested for any additional child guests or siblings. Any donations will go towards building a scholarship fund. All guests must be scheduled to ensure there is room in the class and that your guest will not create overcrowding in the classroom. Overcrowding is unpleasant and can be unsafe for the children. Adult family guests are always welcome, and do not need to be scheduled in advance.
Often we have room in classes for you to bring a prospective family. A family can try a class with no obligation. Invite a friend to class early in the semester before make-ups get busy. Please contact me to make sure there is room in the class.
Please turn off or silence cell phones when you come into class. Besides the interruption of a ringing telephone, if you answer, your speaking voice is a major distraction to your child. We want to keep the class as musically focussed as possible.
If your bring a camera to class, the best time to take photos is during the play-along so that you can model and sing throughout the rest of the class. We may occasionally take video or photos, to be used for educational or publicity purposes with your permission. Getting the Most Out of the Class: Parent's Role in Class
Enhance your child's experience in class by remembering to sing, sing, sing, move, move, move. Your active participation is the key to your children learning and growing musically. Support the creation of a musical environment while in class by not talking to your children or other adults during the 45 minutes. Since it is difficult for a young child to mask out adult conversation, please wait to socialize until after class; instead, contribute to the creation of a musical environment for the children to absorb.
Try not to give verbal directions. It can be tough to resist the impulse to give your child directives such as "Do what she is doing, hold your instrument this way", but children respond best by just seeing and hearing you doing (and enjoying) it yourself! Wandering toddlers are fine, but if you want your child to come back to you, avoid calling to him from across the room. If necessary, go to your child to redirect him nonverbally back to you or the circle. Of course, watch out for your child's safety, but mostly your job is to just relax, get into the music, and have fun!
Allow your child to participate at their own comfort level. Some days, that might mean that your little one is "just" sitting and absorbing the musical atmosphere around them. Other days it might be wearing a tambourine as a crown, singing parts of the songs, or dancing in a corner of the classroom. Again, it can be tough to resist the impulse to put your child through the motions. It's better to model the movements, gently pat the child with the beat, or allow them to feel the motions passively as they sit on your lap or hold onto your arms.. As long as your child is safe to himself and others, we encourage every child to experience class in the way that is most meaningful and developmentally appropriate to them. Be a model, rather than an instructor.
A few words about Discipline:
One of my few behavior rules for children is no running unless we are doing a running verse in a song. Moving around the room is fine, but we try to encourage alternate, safer, ways of moving, like dancing, walking, hopping, crawling, tiptoeing, etc. Feel free to go to your child who is running to remind them of the rule or even take them out of the classroom briefly to "finish running" (then come right back in!). Remember, most behaviors we see are developmentally appropriate for this age, so don't over-react. If the child is older, we can expect more self control, but they still often need gentle reminders.
Getting The Most Out Of The Program: Doing the Music and Using the Music Together® Materials at Home
Be active in the music making at home, just like in class. You can be as creative and silly as you want - you have the room and the freedom, and your child will love it!
Play your CD at home and in the car as frequently as possible, especially during the first few weeks of class. Make it available to your child to listen to while she is playing or before nap or bedtime. But don't depend too much on the CDs; It's even better for your child to sing and "do" the songs yourself. Use the songbook to help you remember the songs or to play along if you play an instrument. Try using the songbook at story time instead of a regular book, and sing through the songs as you go along, or make up stories and verses about the things you see in the book. Looking at the printed notes on the page will help children understand that music is something that can be read, like words. Familiarization with notation will help them when they are more ready for formal music instruction, typically when they are school aged.
The songbook also contains a wealth of information for parents about children's musical development, activity ideas for the songs, a glossary of musical terms, a guitar chord chart, background and philosophy of the Music Together program, etc. Take the time to explore the "grown-up" parts of the songbook!
Website Portal, Director's Blog, and Links
The Family Portal on the Meadowlark Music Together website is for enrolled families only. There is a family directory - you must check the box on the "my account" page for your name, phone number, and email to be listed. There is a family discussion forum, where you can post stories about your family's music making, musical news items of interest, questions for other parents, comments about class... whatever you want to make it.
The Director's Blog can be accessed from inside the Portal or from the Homepage. This is where I have posted on topics such as music theory (lite), info on any non-Music Together music we may have used in class, more in-depth parent education to supplement what you hear in class, links to interesting music related articles I may have come across, etc.
The Links button will take you to a page with - what else? - links to things to do in Lawrence, interesting videos (mostly about music and/or children), other sites about children, parenting, activities, health, etc. Plus there are links to musical instrument vendors, alternatives to the Music Together online store, where you can buy great instruments for your children and yourselves.