The buzz…

Mini Maestros - It's Not Just About The Children.

By Judy O'Neill - Mini Maestros Ringwood & Vermont South Franchisee

As a mother of three small children, who had just moved into Heathmont, I knew no one.

When visiting the Maternal and Child Health Centre I noticed a poster advertising Mini Maestros. I enrolled my eldest son, Chris, because it was very obvious, even in utero, that music was going to be his first love. Music is now his career.

The other reason I went on to enrol all of my children in Mini Maestros was for myself!

Each week, I so looked forward to having fun with my children and chatting with the adults. It will come as no surprise to adults who attend my classes to say that I was one of the chatty parents. I was regularly and "lovingly" shushed in class by Jenny Fogarty, the teacher and founder of Mini Maestros.

Fast forward 5 years and leading into my youngest son, Conor's last term of Mini Maestros, I was asked by Jenny to join the Mini Maestros team as a teacher. And now, this is my 20th year of teaching this amazing program.

Recently, I asked carers who attend my classes to help me with the research for this article by completing the following statement:

“As a parent/grandparent/carer, attending Mini Maestros classes with my child gives me......."

I was overwhelmed by their thoughtful responses, which I have separated into three categories:

1. Special bonding time with my child:

* Carers felt a sense of pride, excitement and amazement.

* They enjoy spending one on one time with their child.

* Sharing the love and joy of music in it's many forms through singing, listening, making music, performing and dancing.

* Carers told of feeling a tighter bond with their children because of Mini Maestros classes.

* Clients also value having fun with their child in "a supportive environment".

* They enjoy watching their children take the skills they have learnt in class and using them at home.

2. The opportunity to enjoy my child’s development:

* Development of social skills through interaction with other children

* Musical skills

*Listening skills

*Learning to follow instructions

*Performance and public speaking skills

*Physical co-ordination

*Sharing and turn- taking

*The largest response - The development of their child's self- confidence

3. Social interaction for me as well as my child.

* Many carers commented on the social interaction of classes being important to them, including interaction between their child, and other children and their carers.

* Carers welcome the opportunity to make new friends. They enjoy the chance to have fun with all of the children and carers through music, dancing and laughter.

* Some carers enjoy having a coffee after class with their class members.

* One grandmother really enjoys chatting to the varied age group of adults; it “keeps her in touch with the world”.

* Watching their children's friendships develop inside and outside of our class also brought joy to carers.

In a world now full of electronic screens, large and small, it is exciting for me to know that face-to-face interaction continues to be very important for adults and their children.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone for your responses.

I have a story for you...

About 10 years ago, I had a telephone conversation with a carer who rang to apologise for missing class for a few weeks. Her three children had been sick consecutively over 4 weeks and she told me she "was climbing the walls." She then went on to say:

"I am so disappointed that I haven't been able to get to class. I nearly asked my partner to take the day off work today to look after the children so I could go to class to catch up with everyone!"

Mini Maestros - it's not just about the children.

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