by Amelia Wong
I thought I was in a safe zone after learning to overcome my fear of working with kids ages 4. I was enjoying my challenges working with the young kids and I was pleased with the results I was creating. Then, I found yet another group of “Scary Little Monsters” – I find them more fearful than the 4 years old youngsters.
These group of kids walk and act like little ‘bosses’, are fearless, adventurous, playful, and are incessantly curious. They sniffle, poke, scream, fidget, dribble, may cry on demand (gasp!) and yet, are full of raw unadulterated life.
Yes – Babies and toddlers!
I had been toying with the idea of taking this challenge of teaching music to these babies for the longest time but have dismissed it, time and time again, simply because, I thought “This is waaaaay too much!”
Here were some of the conversations I had with myself:
- What do I know about babies and toddlers?
- You never argue with one when they are hungry
- They are very perceptive!
- They can smell fear and utilize it to their benefit!
- When they scream, they go whole-heartedly! In fact, everything they do, they do with zest and whole-heartedness.
- They are good at starting “chain-reactions” like crying for instance, with stereo effect no less.
- What if I cannot handle them in class, what then?
This was a consideration that really scared me because I was afraid to put my reputation on the line.
- What if I am seen as a failure by the parents?
- What if I fail miserably?
- What if I break down and cry because the parents undermines my teaching style?
- What if my mind goes blank?
- What if I look like an idiot?
These conversations have been playing in my mind for a very long time.
Then it hit me!
If I allow all these considerations to control me, I will never know if I am any good at handling children this young. So, with a deep breath, heart beating crazily, I decided to just do it and started my very first Baby Group Class, with the age group ranging from 18 – 36 months old.
It has been 8 months since, and you know what? Daunting as it was, not only did I survive, I’m enjoying every single moment of the journey! Initially, I felt awkward in class, nervous and stiff and highly dependent on my team at Teacher Ping School of Music, who were so kind to assist me during the first few weeks conducting the class. In about a month’s time, I was doing the class solo and it was an incredible experience!
I am glad I took a risk to learn something out of my comfort zone and have discovered the joy these classes can bring! For instance, these are some of the experiences I’ve had since those maiden days:
- FUN and ENTHUSIASM: –
- I love to hear the squeals of laughter when the children are enjoying the class. To see their faces light up at each new musical nugget they acquire, be it a new instrument or a new composer – such a joy for me to experience it!
- LOVE: –
- That warm energy of love I experience when the parents are bonding with their kids as they participate together in the little exercises.
- PRIDE: –
- That swelling feeling when I see the kids finally stand up, take the risk and do something that has taken them a long while to achieve.
- SUPPORT and ENCOURAGEMENT: –
- There is an unspoken feel of care, support and encouragement from all the parents as they applaud with unconditional love and sing along with all the children.
- TRUST: –
- When the children trust me enough to do chest bumps or hugs at the end of class, I feel so special!
- COURAGE: –
- I always get emotional when I see the children come out of their comfort zone, take a step forward and perform!
I look forward to each Baby Music class like an adventure waiting to happen. I can safely say that there has never been two classes alike because, these children, with their highly addictive imagination, raw energy and curious disposition:
- makes the classes ever so much more enjoyable
- keeps me on my toes
- makes me think fast
- creates such a positively charged teaching and learning environment
I allowed myself to be more risk taking, shed my image of what others would think of me, be open to learn and accept feedback, step out of my comfort zone and accept new challenges that come my way, at the same time, creating a loving, encouraging and safe environment for the children and parents to be in.
Looking back to my first day entering the class of ‘More Scary Little Monsters’, I have no regrets taking on the challenge. I continue to hold the same level of excellence I demand with all my students with the exception that, for kids as young as 2 years old, these bundles of joy, are holding me to that level of excellence just by being authentic and genuine!
Cheers to many, many more hugs and chest bumps!