Baumhaus Talk Series: Teacher Miro On Two Year Olds, Helping Them Empathize and Adding Sense of Humor in the Classroom
While I enjoy teaching all Levels of the Kindermusik curriculum, Level 2 holds a special place in my heart. I started out my Kindermusik career teaching this Level first. The children at this Level have such a sense of wonder and joy as they discover the world around them. From striking the glockenspiel to howling at a drum in class, everything can be an adventure. I feel so privileged to be a facilitator to this wonderful world around them!
The Level 2 Class harnesses the Verbal Toddler’s growing repertoire of words and encourages them to use their words in the classroom. Through storytelling, nursery rhymes, simple two-note songs and movement, we draw out their natural need to communicate and express themselves.
This Level is quite unique from the others. They have an array of vocabulary, signs and gestures to communicate. They also have a greater mastery of their locomotor skills than the Level 1 child. What makes the Level 2 child special is their burgeoning socio-emotional development. They are now learning how to interact with others. They are affectionate and loving from one moment and then meltdown into a tantrum next. They are overwhelmed by emotions and it is our job to equip them with ways to cope, like using words, exercising patience, distraction or by simply letting go.
My indicator for when a child is ready to move on from Level 1 to Level 2 is when they anticipate a familiar classroom routine, engages in the activity and then does not finish with the group and instead sits in the circle waiting for the next one. This tells me the child’s needs a more challenging routine. Another great indicator is when a child who previously enjoys doing activities decides to just observe other children and other grown-ups. An important cue for me is when a child starts to be more verbal in the Level 1 classroom. This is a great way for parents to tell that their child needs to move up to the Verbal Toddler Level.
One of the challenges teaching this theme is really gaining the trust of the children. They are at the “Kangaroo phase” where they still have a fierce attachment to their grown-up but want to step out of their “pouch” to explore the world around them.
I love each and everyone of the Level 2 themes! I have to say though that the “How Do You Feel?” theme is my favourite. I love the activity where all the grown-ups laugh together at the count of three; the children will look with curiosity and without fail, even without understanding why, will start laughing along as well. It shows the sensitive power of children. They see us enjoying an emotion and try to synchronise their own feelings with us. I know it might sound so simple but we are teaching them how to empathise and feel for others, which to me is remarkable.
Personally, as a teacher, I always try to inject humour in the classroom! It’s fun for the grown-ups and great thing to share with the children; a sense of humour is a learned quality and needs to be developed and nurtured. I make funny faces, fall on the floor and make silly sounds. It’s not meant to be trivial; a child with a sense of humour copes better with life’s stresses. They are more optimistic, accept differences more and enjoy life better.