Early Childhood Classroom Management

Communicate with less talk and more music, says John Feierabend. Here are some ideas for managing groups: To signal when children stand and sit, use a soprano glockenspiel. Pulling the mallet across the glockenspiel from low to high signals the class to stand, from high to low, to sit. Use simple theme songs to tell children to stand, sit or move to a new location.

  • Change the words to “Skip to My Lou” to “Everybody stand” (sit, march to the door)
  • Signal clean-up time with a simple “Time to put your toys away, Time to put your toys away, Quickly as you can” sung to sol and mi.
  • Change the words to “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” to give commands like “Go get your coat on, go get you coat on, go get your coat on, and line up by the door” or “Let’s make a circle, let’s make a circle, let’s make a circle, and then we’ll clap our hands.”

To provide a daily routine, choose a greeting song and a good-bye song and use them every day. The repetition ensures that the children learn the songs, and the daily routine is important for little children. Ideas for distributing instruments like rhythm sticks

  • Children enjoy walking “like grown-ups” to the basket of rhythm sticks and taking their pair.
  • They can then “try out your sticks to be sure you have a good pair,” followed by “form a teepee with them on the floor.”
  • The procedure takes a few seconds, children are allowed to follow their natural urge to make sounds, and you never need to say, “I don’t want to hear them until it’s time to play.”

To promote positive participation, use a “surprise bag.” The bag contains something special and different each day, but its contents are only revealed if the class follows directions and participates. It can hold a new song, an instrument, a puppet, a folk-song picture book, or a favorite circle game. You can be creative with the contents, and children love the surprise. Young children become restless and often misbehave during instruction time, but instruction must be given. Try singing the words, using just a few pitches and simple rhythms. Turning your instructions into a musical event helps keep student attention. Adapted from TIPS: Music Activities in Early Childhood, compiled by John M. Feierabend (MENC).

Resources — NAfME Books

Music in Prekindergarten: Planning & Teaching—includes model classroom music experiences, edited by Mary Palmer and Wendy L. Sims. Music and the Young Mind: Enhancing Brain Development and Engaging Learning, by Maureen Harris Spotlight on Early Childhood Music Education: Selected Articles from State MEA Journals Strategies for Teaching Prekindergarten Music, compiled and edited by Wendy L. Sims TIPS: The Child Voice, edited by Maria Runfola and Joanne Rutkowski —Linda C. Brown, January 18, 2012, © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)