We have gone and done something I swore off. We joined a 10-week program that meets once per week without trying it first. It is Music Together, and we have attended one class so far.
Up to this point, I have done exactly zero classes with the baby (did I say baby-- I meant to say toddler. Where does the time go? He is 15 months!). By the time my older son, now just over 4, was his age, we had done a weekly swim class, a few sessions of gymnastics, and managed to meet my mom's group every week. We would even go to the Family Sing along at the local library some weeks. These days, we can barely keep up with preschool a few mornings per week and a joint playgroup.
We have grand intentions, but staying at home is pretty fun, and sometimes classes can be overwhelming. They can be overwhelming for all of us: for me for getting us all somewhere on time and remembering all of our stuff and getting everyone to follow the rules and etiquette, and for the boys for being around lots of people and following a teacher and someone else's rules. This is all valuable-- learning to follow a teacher, be a part of a group, and make some friends-- but I have been on the fence about when the best time is for them to gain these skills. In our last group glass, I was quite pregnant and my older son refused to walk through the door one day (after a few weeks of refusing certain activities within the class) and I stopped taking him, with my logic being that if the class was for him, and he didn't want to go, why were we there?
But I had been curious about Music Together for a while, though hesitant to try because of the cost (I didn't want to waste that much if we ended up going and my older son did the doorway thing again rather than the sit on my lap and not participate thing). I was tempted because it is a class which is appropriate for both of their ages, and I have read much of the research about early music exposure being correlated with a higher aptitude for math etc. later in life (we no longer live close to a library with a family music time). I also prefer mommy and me classes to drop-off classes, and the older son is phased out of the age range for many of the mommy and me classes. I had also been thinking it was getting to be time for the little one to start getting something else in his life besides just us and a little bit of play time at the preschool at drop-off.
That being said, we all enjoyed the first session. The teacher began and ended on time, which I appreciate. She used positive discipline to teach us the etiquette ("thanks for being on time," "please save your snacks for after class in case someone has an allergy," "your participation is an example for the child across the room from you because we are in a circle"). She had name tags for all of us and called everyone by name. There was a brief introductions period, and many many of the participants were returning-- one mom said she'd been in the program for 10 years and was on her fourth child in class! I think I was the only newbie.
It was mostly moms, and many had two kids there, and a few had one. One mom brought what seemed to be the child's caregiver with her. It was a full class, and the energy was mostly focused on the teacher and the program. There were a lot of transitions, and a lot of stuff going in and coming out of bins. My kids don't excel at jumping right into an activity then jumping right out of it (i.e. here are the sticks, sing one song, give them back, now here are some pieces of cloth, sing a song and walk in a circle, then give it back), but they did as they were told. We recognized a few songs and found the new ones easy to listen to and follow along with. None were classic children's tunes that I find hard to put a smiling face on and sing along with (that is actually what I loved about the family sing along at the old library-- it was a guitar and camp songs-- not the Wheels on the Bus variety-- and I was pleased that this also seems to skip that genre). The teacher played a fiddle in class, and had a nice singing voice.
At the end of the class, the teacher gave us all a booklet and two copies of the same CD. She said the Music Together program has been well researched, and runs on a 9-peat cycle-- meaning there are 9 booklets/ CD sets and it cycles through them. She reminded us to look at it and read it, then sent us on our way.
Since we have gotten home, we read the book and have listened to the CD a bunch of times. Some of the songs are catchy, and we only skip two or three (our of around 25). Plus I keep catching my older boy singing the songs (he is reciting "Old King Cole was an itty bitty soul" right now and was on about "No More Pie" and "fishing for crawdads" earlier). The baby (I mean toddler) likes the song that has a quick beat and ends in "hot dog!"
We are looking forward to the next lesson.