Diving Deeper - Connection by Maddy Kelly - Mini Maestros' Training & Development Manager
Whilst parents and teachers are surrounded by and catering to the immediate needs of children on a daily basis, it’s difficult to measure just how much of this time is actually spent sharing in meaningful quality moments. Many parents and educators lead busy, fast-paced lifestyles in our modern society, however, meaningful adult-child connection has the capacity to enrich children’s overall wellbeing and development. Learning through music presents plenty of opportunities for parents and carers to interact with their children in playful and tactile ways, finding the micro-moments to be present with your child and incorporate music into their day-to-day lives. This practice will help build meaningful connections between the adult and child and provide children with building blocks for positive growth and wellbeing.
Psychologist John Bowlby’s ‘attachment theory’ suggests that strong relationships between children and their primary caregivers are essential in constructing the foundations for social and cognitive development. A successful attachment is when the child develops a deep emotional bond to a significant other, one that is enduring and allows the child to feel safe and secure in their presence. Attachments influence a child’s behaviour and learning through creating a sense of trust and emotional support, as well as providing them with the safety to be themselves and find a sense of belonging.
The first of these significant attachments occurs in the context of the home, between a child and their parent. “The quality of daily parent-child relationships makes a vital difference in the behaviour and adjustment of children” (Brooks, 2005, p. 299). Bowlby theorized that the lack of an attached caregiver in the early years could negatively impact the child’s sense of self-worth, as they may feel disconnected from their social world, resulting in self-isolation or possible difficulties when learning to communicate and make friends (tvoparents, 2010). For this reason, it is crucial that children are given every opportunity to connect and build relationships with the adults around them. These connections, however, are not confined to those between a child and their parent, but extend to other caregivers, family members and, of course, teachers!
It is the teacher’s role to work closely with all individual children so as to build meaningful connections and allow children to feel the classroom is a safe and comfortable space for play and learning. Mini Maestros classes are thoughtfully designed to provide musical opportunities for children to build these relationships with both their parent/caregiver, and their music teacher. As a result, children gain the tools for effective communication and the ability to feel confident, safe and capable in their learning and development (Rolfe, 2003). Peekaboo activities are an important aspect of the Mini Maestros classes, as they provide an opportunity for children to build confidence and independence, whilst interacting directly with their parent and teacher. This activity helps build children’s resilience around separation anxiety, as they learn that if their significant caregiver goes away for a moment, they will come back. It also encourages parents to connect with their children in a fun and playful manner.
Developing successful relationships can fulfil the basic needs of a child. Leavers (2000) defines these as “the need for security, for affection, for attention, for affirmation, for clarity and for emotional support” (p. 23). The simple act of singing with a child provides this sense of safety and engagement. Children are more inclined to tune into singing voices as opposed to talking voices, as singing resonates on an emotional level. In particular, children in the early years have a distinct connection with their parents' singing voices. Even if parents aren’t confident singers, their voices are the most beautiful things a child can listen to. Research shows that singing lullabies to your child will not only help their sleeping patterns, but build a connection between the parent and child. It is a natural occurrence that happens within the child’s body that can be scientifically measured through wireless detectors, as changes in their body heat, respiration and heart beat will seemingly jump in time to match the parent who is singing (Hunt, 2017). Researchers call this phenomenon ‘synchronicity’.
The social context of a music class also provides opportunities for children to learn from others. Through participating in group dances, instrument activities and a range of songs, children are encouraged to communicate, cooperate, observe and build an understanding of others. The application of such interactive activities allows children and their parents/caregivers to participate in a shared experience that builds connections between everyone in the room, thus establishing a sense of community that the child belongs to. Establishing positive attachments in the early years has the potential to influence the quality of future relationships in any social context the child might be subjected to, while also constructing a supportive social network. (Rolfe, 2003).
The Early Years Learning Framework states “Children learn about themselves and construct their own identity within the context of their families and communities” (DEEWR, 2009, p.20). Meaningful connections between children and the significant adults in their lives influence the way in which children feel about themselves, their culture and their surrounding environment. Hunter (2012) states, “good quality relationships with key adults are one of the most important factors in children showing resilience” (p.7). With the support of parents and teachers, children can begin to create positive relationships, aiming to build respect for others and in turn, themselves.
Brooks, R. (2005). The power of parenting. In S. Goldtein & R. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2009).
Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Council of Australian Governments
Hunt, S. (2017). The power of lullabies and why you should sing them.
Retrieved from https://www.everyonebenefits.org.au/the_power_of_lullabies_and_why_you_should_sing_them
Hunter, Cathryn. (2012). Is resilience still a useful concept when working with children and young people? Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from: http://www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/pubs/papers/a141718/cfca02.pdf
Leavers, F. (2000). 'Forward to basics: deep level learning and the experiential approach.' Early Years 20(2).
Rolfe, S. (2003). Relationships with babies and toddlers in child care and their current and future well-being: Inspirations from attachment theory. Paper presented at Our Children the Future 3 conference, 1 May 2003. Retrieved from http://www.octf.sa.edu.au/files/links/B3Rolfe.pdf
Tvoparents. (2010). Attachment: Why is Bonding with Baby Important? Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6fY6RchNk4
Warner, D. (2006)
Schooling for the Knowledge Era. ACER Press Australian Council for Educational Research Ltd
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