Teaching is Easy, Fun, and Adaptable!
If you can clap your hands and sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” you can feel confident about teaching any of the Sing n’ Sprout curricula. Each curricula comes with a teaching video to watch how we have taught the lesson in our studio. Our videos also offer additional ideas on how to adapt each activity with various age groups.
Young children thrive on repetition because it brings them comfort and familiarity therefore, we encourage you to teach the same lesson at least three times. At Sing n’ Sprout we have a three time rule: introduce, practice, and master. Repeating the lesson also makes it easy for you to teach. Soon, you will gain tools to use throughout the day using music and movement!
Welcome To Sing n' Sprout
Useful Information for "Teacher n' Me" or "Family n' Me" Classes
“Teacher n’ Me” classes are for children lead by one teacher and possibly a second helper. Examples are childcares, preschools, or Sunday school settings.
“Family n’ Me” classes are for children who attend with at least one caregiver. “Family n’ Me” classes are perfectly suited for libraries, church mid-week outreach activities, and small businesses who teach in a classroom space.
Welcome Letter From Jenni & Lori: Welcome to Sing n’ Sprout!
We are so glad you feel called to teach Sing n’ Sprout in your community. From the very beginning, God has continued to multiply our community by adding teachers like you. He continues to use teachers to make Sing n’ Sprout a product that is valued by families because it is creative, effective and engaging. We take very seriously, every teacher God adds to our team. God is going to speak through you with new ideas and ministry opportunities. Therefore we want to hear, see and value you and what God is doing in and through you as you choose to teach Sing n’ Sprout.
Since 2010, the direction for Sing n’ Sprout has remained the same. We want to provide affordable, effective and engaging music and movement classes for young children. This creates wonderful opportunities for child cares, preschools, churches, and small businesses.
The music and movement activities are used to stimulate brain development for the littlest of Sprouts and connection with one another in the classroom. Ultimately creating amazing children who mature into whole and healthy human beings in mind, body and spirit.
We cannot tell you enough how excited we are for you to teach. Please reach out and connect with us as many times as you need in order to feel like a Sing n’ Sprout teaching rockstar! 🙂
Jenni Auvenshine & Lori Blom, Owners
Teach in a Safe Space You’ll want to secure a safe space to teach your classes. Safety is always a top priority. That responsibility starts at the very beginning when choosing your space. Sing n’ Sprout has been taught in many different venues – childcare centers, preschools, churches, assisted living facilities, dance studios, and even teachers’ homes. This section is meant to shed some insight on teaching space and give you the tools and confidence to find your own.
What is the size of the room? This is important. A space that is too big (like a gym, fellowship hall, or outside) will make it hard to keep all of your Lil’ Sprouts engaged in your circle. A room that is too small will make it uncomfortable for gross motor movement activities and can become claustrophobic. To manage noise and safety, the largest class size for a Sing n’ Sprout should not exceed 10 to 12 Lil’ Sprouts, so you’ll need enough space for everyone to move around, a room measuring at least 12 feet by 12 feet. Consider bringing your parachute or stretchy band and a few friends. If you don’t have these props yet a queen size bedsheet would be a great substitute. Spread out your parachute and move around to get a feel for the space.
Does it have carpet or is the flooring hard? You could teach in either space but for any non-carpeted space consider purchasing a rug or carpet remnant. This will cut down on slips and falls (socks on wood or tile floors are slippery), reduce echo in your space, and provide a better surface for tapping instruments on the floor. Rugs can be spendy, so if you decide that you would like to purchase one look at garage sales, Amazon, or maybe even ask to borrow a friend’s. It doesn’t have to be fancy, be practical. Maybe you could call your local carpet store and ask if they would consider donating a large and unused carpet remnant to you. Also, take transportation into consideration. Can you roll your rug up and store it there? Will you be taking it home with you each time? Whatever you do, make sure your investment is safe.
What else is in your room?
You’ll need to have a table or shelves to hold the instruments up away from the reach of the children. It should be next to an outlet to plug in your CD player, Bluetooth speaker, or whatever you’ll use to play your music. Tables with sharp corners, cords, and doors that could pinch fingers are all things to note when you’re scoping things out. Remember that curious Lil’ Sprouts are accident prone. You’ll need to make sure outlets are covered, stairs are blocked and anything that could be a distraction is put away or out of reach. For example, if you teach in a preschool room with lots of toys, make sure they are put away and keep Lil’ Sprouts in the area where you are teaching. Minimize distractions to maximize engagement.
Sing n’ Sprout has been taught in many diverse locations. So take a look at your life. Do you have any connections? For example, if your child takes a dance class at the dance gallery in your town maybe you could chat with the owner about any opportunities to teach in unused space. Or there might be the perfect Sunday school room at your church that can be used. Partner with your facility. Tell them you will pass out flyers they provide with information about upcoming dance classes or church activities. A win-win! If you have the space, you can even teach Sing n’ Sprout in your own home if the zoning laws in your town allow you to do so. Whatever you choose you can make it great and always put safety first!
Consider expanding your business by developing Relationships with Preschools.
Developing a relationship with preschools can be a very fulfilling way to grow your business. You could arrange a contract with a preschool so that you teach a shortened Sing n’ Sprout class to each one of their classes once a week, bi-monthly, or once a month. You could make your class available as an after school activity. Through both of these options you can sell CDs to a whole new set of families and send home flyers telling about your classes. You might also consider teaching out of a preschool. If a school has an extra room, they may be willing to set up an agreement where you get to use the space for your Family n’ Me classes in exchange for teaching a shortened Sing n’ Sprout class to their classes on a regular basis. If you have the time to give, this could save you rental expenses.
Another option is Teaching in an Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Home.
Several Sing n’ Sprout teachers have had success teaching multigenerational classes at an assisted living facility or nursing home. If this is something you are interested in pursuing, start by calling and asking to talk to the Activities Director or someone similar. Explain who you are and what you do, and ask if they’d be interested in having you teach a multigenerational class at their facility. Multigenerational classes foster interaction and connection between not just Lil’ Sprouts and their caregivers, but also between the residents at the assisted living facility and the members of your class. The older folks love to see the little ones, and offering conversation and fellowship is a rewarding ministry for you and the members of your class. Assisted living facilities pride themselves on offering a wide variety of programming to their residents, and the chance to interact with Lil’ Sprouts is a rare draw.
Schedule a meeting to ask and answer questions and see possible spaces for teaching. Go prepared with your business card or written contact information and a list of any questions you have. You’ll want to take note of how large the space available for the class is. There should be room for your class to take place and also for the residents to sit in chairs or wheelchairs or scooters around the outside of the circle. A carpeted location is best. You’ll have to coordinate a schedule that works for both you and the programming at the facility already in place. The Activities Director may have concerns about your families introducing germs to the facility, so assure him or her of your policies involving cleaning instruments and staying home from class if anyone is sick. Ask the Activities Director to help you get the word out about your class. They may be able to write an article about Sing n’ Sprout in their newsletter so residents know what it is and are aware of the upcoming opportunity. They’ll want to include your class on the calendar and may even post signs for you to let the residents know about the class. It would be great to supply them with some pictures of your classes.
Once you have your eye on the perfect space, make the call. Introduce yourself and ask if you can set up a time to meet. When you go to chat with your contact you could bring a Sing n’ Sprout CD and a business card (if you don’t have those made yet consider a printout about yourself and how they can contact you). Be prepared to share details on logistics – How many kiddos you’d like to have in your class, how much you’ll charge, dates you may start, and whether you’ll teach mornings or evenings. Go with an open mind and be completely transparent.
A few renting tips for you!
· Get and keep a receipt for any rental payments and document all expenses.
· If you are able to use space for free, make sure to show your gratitude. A thank you note goes a long way. Remind them you appreciate them! Also let them know how many people have you’ve brought through their doors. You are bringing more exposure to their facility, so other businesses are benefiting!
· Remember that you are not only representing yourself and your personal business but Sing n’ Sprout as a whole. Prayerfully be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10) and be a responsible business person.
· If you’re completely stumped on space pricing, use our “Sing n’ Sprout Teachers” Facebook page and our community would be happy to shed any insight. We also offer one hour ZOOM Conference calls (available for purchase in our store).
· Ask what type of insurance your space has. You may not be covered under their insurance and you want to make sure you are protected if any accidents happen.
Once you have secured a safe space to teach, think about scheduling your classes.
Schedule your classes at times that work for you. Experience has shown that classes in the morning, late afternoon, and evening are successful. Most families with young children are home in the early afternoon for nap time, so avoid scheduling class then. Consider having two classes back to back so you only have to set up once. Just leave enough time between classes for families to pack up and leave and come and get settled. Also be sure to wipe down all of the instruments between all classes. For example, you could teach at 9:30am and 10:45am, or 4pm and 5:15pm.
Remember the need for families to come to night classes. Working families will appreciate evening classes and Saturday classes. Evening classes tend to be higher energy than morning classes, so be prepared to handle an active class!
Once you’ve found a safe place to teach and set your schedule, it’s time to Get the Word Out!
Getting the Word Out
One HUGE way to promote your business and communicate with your target audience is by creating a Facebook page. Search Sing n’ Sprout on Facebook. Many pages will pop up with lots of content. Look around and get some ideas. What do you like? What do you think could be done better?
Start constructing your Facebook page early. There are graphics and banners you can use before and even after you are able to take some pictures of your own classes. Share it with your friends and ask them to share it. Also share it on the Sing n’ Sprout – MEMBERS ONLY Facebook group so that all the other teachers can like your page and engage with your posts. Check out the Social Media Tips and Sample Posts in the Marketing section of the Teacher Resources.
Facebook is just one social media you might want to use. The main point is to understand your community and know how to reach them. It may be through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or combination of all three. Creating a Social Media plan is something that takes time, trial and error.
Also create a free website. You can do this through weebly.com. Provide the link to your website on your Facebook page and any other social media you use. You website will provide potential customers with a summary of who you are and what you offer.
Now it’s time to dig deep. Time to fill those classes. Enlist the help of some of your friends. Ask them to share your Facebook page and spread the word. Make sure you’re posting instructions on how to sign up. Jenni loves using the Facebook “boost” option. She will post details about upcoming classes and boost the post. Keep in mind that you can select WHO your audience is for your boost. Before you spend money search posts on our Sing n’ Sprout – MEMBERS ONLY Facebook group to read about others’ experiences.
Some Sing n’ Sprout teachers use fliers. Print some fliers with class info and tear-offs and hang them up at your local grocery store or children’s store. Research says a person will see your logo six times before they will buy your product so get it out there! For more marketing tips, read about Growing Your Business.
This part takes some hustle. Prayerfully make sure you are not hustling for their money but hustling for their hearts. When a caregiver/parent signs their child up that means they are trusting YOU to nourish their child’s mind, body and spirit. As a business owner, “getting the word out” is something you will ALWAYS be doing. To be successful you should be doing some of this every day. As soon as one session starts, use the 8 weeks to fill up your next classes.
Are you ready? Get yourself prepared with Practice and Trial Classes.
In the weeks leading up to your first class, get some practice under your belt! The first step is to read through the material and practice in your home. As silly as it sounds, grab a few stuffed animals and run through class with them. Just the practice alone will get the bugs out.
The next step is to invite real people. Call family, friends, neighbors or anyone with Lil’ Sprouts and give it a try! This step is important. Sing n’ Sprout is an easy-to-teach program, but please don’t underestimate the prep time it requires. The more you know your stuff, the more professional you will be.
Pick a lesson in your curriculum and give it a try. You’ll need to be comfortable with the flow of the class and familiar enough with the a cappella songs that you can switch from one to another and sing the words and tunes correctly. Practice in the shower, in the car, and with your own kids. Do a mock-class and have some fun. You could do this step once or more…Hey, if your friends like it, you may have some Lil’ Sprouts signed up before you know it!
Just like everything in life, you will learn through trial and error. Give yourself some grace and allow yourself to learn. The classroom is not only for your Lil’ Sprouts but also for you! Recognize that every class, every season, is new and different giving you plenty of opportunities to learn and grow.
Watch the online training videos and gather ideas and suggestions to use during your own classes. If you come across any questions along the way, post in the Sing n’ Sprout – MEMBERS ONLY Facebook group for suggestions and feedback.
Tips for a fun trial class!
· Think of this trial class like a dress rehearsal. Wear what you will wear when you teach (a Sing n’ Sprout t-shirt and comfortable but professional pants or shorts) and have a plan.
· Even if it is just a trial class still have your friends and family members fill out and sign a waiver for the participating kiddos. Accidents happen and you want to make sure things are covered all around.
· If you’re not familiar with the Sing n’ Sprout music pop it in in your car and cruise around. The music is great and will be stuck in your head in no time.
· Have fun!!
If your space still feels good after some trial classes and God is giving you the nudge then go ahead and jump in and Collect Sign-ups.
There are several options for collecting sign-ups. Choose a method that’s comfortable for you and easy for your families.
Online Store through Square
Setting up an online store through Square allows you to list all of your classes and upcoming events and even sell instruments and CDs. It allows you to add photos and personalize your site. Square keeps track of your monthly sales and deposits funds into your bank account within 1-2 business days. Square does take a percentage and a small transaction fee from each sale. If there is a drawback to Square, it is that is a store over a form. There is no way to specifically ask for the child’s name and age in the transaction. You can ask parents to type this information into the Note section at checkout, but many forget, so this adds an email step.
Online Form through Wufoo
Wufoo forms are very convenient for collecting pertinent registration information. You’ll want to ask for the names of both the child(ren) and caregiver, the age(s) of the child(ren), email address, and phone number. Wufoo forms do not accept payment, so if you choose to use this option, you’ll have to take payment by cash or check by mail or on the first day of class.
Consider setting up an email account you’ll use strictly for your Sing n’ Sprout business. You can post on your Facebook page, “To sign up for upcoming classes email …” When a mom or dad emails you regarding class it is nice to be able to talk to them personally and thoroughly answer any questions or concerns they may have but it can be very time consuming. If you have them sign up through an online form you can make a note saying, “Contact me if you have any questions,” so you can filter out any unnecessary emailing.
Once you receive a signup, enter that child in your roster. Keep track of how many Lil’ Sprouts you have signed up, and do not accept more students than you have instruments. Make sure you have each child’s name and age and parent’s name and contact information, both email address and a good phone number. Keep all student and parent information private.
Sign up Tips:
· Keep it simple, get only necessary information.
· Keep track of payments.
· Keep a paper copy of your roster. Bring it to every class and fill out name tags ahead of time to get to know your students and make notes (for example if a student has an allergy or medical condition).
When you receive a registration, respond promptly acknowledging you have received their registration and will email class details via a Welcome Email to Parents, a week before class begins.
About a week before class begins, send out a “Welcome Email”. This email sets the tone for the next 8 weeks. Make sure you sound upbeat and excited to meet your class. Include all necessary details on location, parking, what to bring, and your contact information. Also attach the waiver and release and ask parents to bring it signed to the first class. This will save you time on the first day. A sample Welcome Email follows below.
I hope your new year is off to a great start! I am excited to kick off the next Sing n’ Sprout session and teach the God is Love curriculum. The goal of the Sing n’ Sprout Family n’ Me program is to foster opportunities for Lil’ Sprouts to connect with their caregivers. Improving the bonds between children and their caregivers helps them become healthy adults in body, mind, and spirit. We’ll use both traditional and original music and movements specifically designed to help children explore their bodies and the world around them. It is my goal to nurture your child in ways of mind, body and soul. We will be working with maracas, bells, bean bags, rhythm sticks, sand blocks, and scarves!
Schedule and Location Info:
– Our class will meet Wednesdays at 9:30am from Wednesday, January 18th through Wednesday, March 8. Class is 45 minutes long.
– Everyone is invited to come to class 10 minutes early and stay 10 minutes late for fellowship time for the parents.
– If for some reason I need to cancel a class along the way (pray for good weather!), we will just extend the session.
– Please do not come to class if either you or your child is sick.
– Classes meet at … You may park …
Attached to this email please find the Photo Release and Waiver of Liability and the Sing n’ Sprout Policies. Please print and sign the Waiver and bring it to the first class if you do not already have one on file. (The photo release is optional.) Please also read over the policies.
I’ll make some announcements at the beginning of the first class, but also wanted to include them here.
– When you arrive to class, please leave all belongings and shoes (Lil’ Sprouts’ and Caregivers’) in the entryway and then head into the Sing n’ Sprout room.
– The bathroom is in the hallway. Feel free to use it at any time.
– There are not wrong ways for Lil’ Sprouts to play the instruments. Do not be concerned if your Lil’ Sprout is not shaking the shaker or clapping the sand blocks just as they are “supposed” to be doing in class. Everybody engages in the music in their own ways! I do, however, ask you to intervene if safety is ever an issue. Throwing instruments or hitting another person with an instrument is never allowed!
– Do not miss out on all of the opportunities in class to engage in the music with your Lil’ Sprout! Be present, connect with your child, and have fun! I’ve attached a handout that covers all of the ways that Music and Movement are so wonderful for the development of children, take a look! The way for your Lil’ Sprout to reap those benefits is for you to engage with him or her during class. Everyone is invited to sing along, play the instruments, and dance!
– Please don’t spend the class in conversation with other adults. 😉 It changes the whole tone of the room when caregivers talk over my singing or over the song that is playing. Please do engage with your child(ren) during class and take advantage of coming early and staying late to catch up with friends!
– Especially at the beginning of the session, your Lil’ Sprout may take a bit of time to warm up to the new environment. Usually within two or three classes, the Lil’ Sprouts start to feel comfortable and show more and more age appropriate participation. Please do not worry if you feel your child is not participating in the “right” way. I assure you they are taking it all in, and I have had many parents tell me their child sings the songs at home despite being hesitant to participate in class. If, however, a child is disrupting the class with crying or behavior, please take a moment to step out with your child and refocus.
– Please let me know if you will miss a class.
If you don’t already, please “Like” our Sing n’ Sprout page on Facebook (include link)! I post updates and interesting tid-bits there, along with the occasional picture.
Don’t hesitate to call or email if you have any questions at any point throughout the session!
I look forward to seeing you and your Lil’ Sprouts next week!
You’re getting close! Make sure you have everything in order for your First Day of Class.
Congratulations on making it to your first day of class! Take a deep breath! Trust in the Lord and in your preparation. It’s time to have some fun. Arrive early to your class location, make sure the room is set up, and make sure your music is working. Have some instruments in the center of your circle or space to keep Lil’ Sprouts busy and channel energy until class begins. Choose an instrument that doesn’t require a lot of adult supervision. Rhythm sticks and other hard or “older rated” instruments should be saved for class when parents are fully focused on what their child is doing.
The first day of class is busy! Encourage your caregivers to arrive 10 minutes early so you can make sure that each family has turned in a Waiver and Photo Release. When your families arrive, welcome and direct them. If they’ve never taken a Sing n’ Sprout class before they may be nervous and not sure what to do. You could say something like “Hi I’m …! So glad you made it today!” Then get down to the kiddos level and tell them the same thing! Some Lil’ Sprouts will pop right out and be ready to go and other will be very shy at first. Respect boundaries and be understanding of shy individuals. Give each person some hand sanitizer. Then say, “I’ve laid some instruments out for you to play with, Roxy, while I get some paperwork done with your mom.” This lets the parent know it’s okay for the child to touch and they have direction as well. Let them know where the bathroom is and where nursing mommas can find a comfortable place to feed their baby (encourage it right in the classroom).
Do not be concerned if you start a few minutes late on the first day. The first day is hectic and there are several things beyond your control. If you start late, explain there is lots to get done on the first day and you’ll start right on time the following 7 weeks.
Consider using sticker nametags so you and everyone else can learn the names of the Lil’ Sprouts and caregivers in the class. Have everyone place a name tag on their shirt, unless it’s a baby or younger toddler. Those who will play with or chew on a nametag can wear it on their back or have their caregiver wear it for them.
1st Day Tips:
– Encourage caregivers to check-in on Facebook as they arrive at class. This is free marketing for you!
– The first day of class sometimes starts late due to housekeeping things at the beginning – adjust your plan accordingly!
– If you are teaching our Christian Curricula, give each family a CD at the end of class and encourage them to listen to the music outside of class. You could even have a goody bag or packet that includes information about how to get involved in the dance studio, church, or whatever venue you are using to teach.
– Consider purchasing a stamp or series of stickers as a reward for a job well done. This is one of the highlights of the child’s experience. A stamp goes a long way!
Once you’re ready, begin your class with a Statement to Parents.
Do your best to start on time, though this is not always possible on the first day. Have everyone sit in a circle, give a short introduction of yourself, and invite everyone to introduce themselves and their Lil’ Sprout(s).
Begin each session with a brief statement to the parents in your class. This will establish the tone of your class and help them to feel more comfortable. You can also refer back to it should any problems arise during the session. Let them know they are a team with their child, that the Sing n’ Sprout Family n’ Me program is about facilitating a fun opportunity for caregivers and children to grow and bond together. It is not about the teacher leading the children while the caregivers watch!
Release the caregivers from any expectations they may have. Some parents may feel their child needs to behave in a certain way. Let them know God created everyone to be different and they are doing what they need to do when they need to do it. Relate to your parents without oversharing. You could say, “I promise there is NOTHING your child is going to do in my classroom that my kids haven’t done or that hasn’t happened in class before! Take a deep breath and just exhale any expectations you’ve brought with you! Your child will do what God wants him to do. Babies are designed to have need needs met, toddlers will do what they want to do when they want to do it. They are all about me, me, me at this stage. So we just model behavior for them. By three all the absorbing they have done in the last years has set the stage to show you how awesome they are…so preschoolers love to come up with ideas and get creative!” When you release parents from the stress of what they think their child should be doing, they learn to go with the flow, and are more connected to their child. Also let parents know that it can take three weeks or so for Lil’ Sprouts to become comfortable with the environment and really familiar with the routine and structure of a Sing n’ Sprout class. If they are discouraged the first or second week, always encourage parents to try to make it to week three. It will get better! Read more about Drawing Parents into the Classroom Experience.
Finally, set a short, simple, and easy to follow code of rules for your class, such as, “Be safe. Be Kind. Have fun.” This will make it easier to correct a behavior when necessary. Read more about Classroom Management and How to Handle an Active Class.
Now it’s time to teach. Put your heart and soul into each and every class and show those families a great time! Be the best teacher you can be by understanding the Sing n’ Sprout model of Family Style Classes.
Sing n’ Sprout Family n’ Me classes group children from birth through 5 years old into the same class. Research has proven that such an environment benefits both younger children and older children. Babies and younger children love to watch the older children around them, and older children are given an opportunity to model skills and behavior. There is also an element of convenience to family style classes. Many of the families we reach have more than one child under the age of five, and being able to attend a class with multiple children is a rare opportunity.
The benefits of family style classes are rich, but having such a range of stages and capabilities in the same classroom does require differentiation on the part of the teacher to be sure children at various stages of development are being reached through music and movement in ways that are appropriate to them. Familiarize yourself with the typical interests and capabilities of children at different Stages of Development.
Familiarize yourself with the typical interests and capabilities of children at different stages of development. These stages are simply the “norm.” Every child develops at their own pace, which is why we refer to stages, not ages. However, if they fall well outside their norm, they should address it with their pediatrician. Knowing each stage’s strengths and capabilities will help you make suggestions to caregivers on how to adapt activities for all members of your classes.
Tiny Sprouts (0-6 Months)
Rolling (by 6 months or so)
Studying people’s faces
Looking in the mirror
Working on hand eye coordination
Holding a toy with one hand
Responding to sounds by making sounds
Exploring their world by putting things in mouth
Beginning to support self when help up/may bounce
Sitting with support
Crawling/New Walker Sprouts (6 months- 15ish months)
Stranger anxiety/separation anxiety peaks at this stage
Passing an object between hands
Increasing fine motor dexterity
Pulling to stand
Tracking falling objects
Using simple gestures (waving, pointing)
Exploring by banging, shaking, throwing
Cruising around furniture
Walking/ Running Sprouts(15 months- 2 ½ or 3 years)
Throwing tantrums due to lack of expressive language
Speaking several words or using 2-4 word sentences
Knowing body parts
Following simple directions
Beginning to run
Hopping on 2 feet or 1
Imaginative Sprouts (3-5)
Having empathy for others
Dressing or undressing self
Speaking with a large vocabulary
Playing make believe
Developing fine motor skills
Strengthening gross motor skills
Holding 2-3 sentence conversations
Expressing self in a way that is easily understood
In your classroom, you should encourage your parents to be a team with their child. A child will naturally play with an object in one way. Ask the parents to scaffold other ways to play. This works for all of the stages of development. For example, say, “Carson, I see that you are tapping your sticks together like a hammer. Could you tap them lightly like this? Could you tap them loudly like this?” First, validate the way they are playing is correct, then ask them to try an activity just one step beyond what they are doing. Scaffolding helps the child feel fully supported in developing their skills. Also, its very important to name the activity for your youngest sprout. By saying, “Caitlin is tapping her sticks loudly,” or “Tap, tap, tap,” in reinforcing the activity, you are building vocabulary and supporting development. Read more about Adapting Sing n’ Sprout Curriculum for the Littlest Sprouts and then Extending the Curriculum for Seasoned Sprouts.
Sing n’ Sprout curriculum is generally written to the 3 year old level. Some activities require adaptations to best reach children at all of the different developmental stages. Adapt the activities described in the curriculum to best fit your classroom. A class full of 18 month olds will look very different from a class full of 3 and 4 year olds. When you have a mix of ages, make suggestions to the parents of the littlest ones on what to do during each activity to best reach their Lil’ Sprouts.
Feeling the Beat
Every single activity done in Sing n’ Sprout is an opportunity to expose the Lil’ Sprouts to a steady beat. The ability to keep a steady beat is tied in brain development to both math and language. Let the Lil’ Sprouts feel the beat on their body by sitting on the floor and gently bouncing them on your knees, patting their backs, gently tapping them with an instrument, holding them in your arms and swaying/dancing/marching to the beat of the music being heard. This activates two of their senses at once (hearing and touch) and reinforces the exposure to the steady beat. The only thing that you should not do for them is grab their hands and shake an instrument for them. Give them an opportunity to try shaking an instrument on their own, and this skill will develop in time. Reinforcing the steady beat can and should be done to both spoken word and song because those are stored in two different parts of the brain.
Gross Motor Movements – Body
When the class is doing any activity that involves gross motor movements with their bodies such as the stretching song, babies should be laying down on the floor while their caregivers move their arms and legs. For example, when doing the Hokey Pokey, reach their arms up one at a time, and then their legs. For turning around, have the caregivers make a big circle with the babies’ arms instead of turning their whole bodies. Some babies may not want to lay on the floor, so marching/dancing/swaying with baby in arms is always an option.
Activities that Involve Body Parts
For any activities that involve body parts, have the caregivers identify the body part on the child by touching it or tapping it gently with an instrument and saying the name of the body part. For example, when the activity is balancing a bean bag on various body part and “toes” is called, the caregiver should hold the bean bag on the baby’s toes and say, “Toes! These are your toes!” to help with learning the vocabulary.
Any time one of our arms or legs crosses the vertical midline of our bodies, it forces the two hemispheres of our brains to talk to each other. In a developing brain, this reinforces the nerve pathway between those two hemispheres, which is called the corpus callosum. This nerve pathway is necessary for many life skills, including reading. An activity like tapping your hand on your opposite knee seems so simple, but is aiding in crucial brain development, which is why you’ll see many activities involving cross-lateral movements in Sing n’ Sprout. Even before a baby is capable of moving it’s own arm or leg purposefully across the midline of the body, the nerve pathway is still reinforced when the caregiver moves the arms and legs for the child. This is as simple as laying a baby on his or her back and touching hand and opposite foot to each other or having a toddler give your right hand a high five with his right hand.
For activities involving sign language, have the caregivers position the littlest Sprouts where they can see see them. In addition to performing the simple sign language, remember that babies and toddlers zoom in on facial expressions and eye contact. A baby will understand sign language before being able to perform the signs.
Gross Motor Movements – Scarves, Bean Bags, Parachute, Stretchy Band
When adapting gross motor skills it’s important to remember the goal and capabilities of each stage. Gross motor muscles are imperative to fine motor development. Simply, one uses their shoulders before developing a good grip, etc. For the Tiny Sprouts and Crawler Sprouts, focus on visual and tactile development with scarves; tracking the scarf from one side to the other, talking about what color it is, how it feels, and playing peek-a-boo or hiding a small object under the scarf to teach about object permanence. Bean bags can be used to focus on auditory and tactile development; shaking the bean bag to listen to the sound it makes and letting them grasp the bean bag and pass it from one hand to another. Both the parachute and stretchy band can provide major sensory overload, so do not be alarmed if the littlest Sprouts are shocked or even cry. This is a normal experience as it’s hard to process all the input at the same time. In a larger class of younger kiddos, start by sitting down with the parachute and with slow movements. In a class with a mix of ages, some of the littlest ones may be most comfortable watching from a distance at first. It’s important to teach parents the importance of the family style classes. The younger sprouts watch and learn from the older Sprouts!
Fine Motor Movements – Maracas, Bells, Rhythm Sticks
Fine motor movements using maracas, bells, or rhythm sticks require use of the grasp in one or both hands. Most Tiny and Crawler sprouts will put these items in their mouth! Be sure to let parents know you sanitize between classes and that this is the appropriate way for these ages to explore. There are more nerve sensors in their mouths than their hands at this point! Offer alternate ways for them to explore the instruments. Can they follow the sound from side to side? Have the caregiver tap a rhythm onto their bodies and then stop and see if they shake the instrument. Make some sounds then pause and let them copy.
Do you have a few extra minutes at the beginning or end of class? Do you have a seasoned group of Lil’ Sprouts who are ready for the next step? Or, do you just want to mix it up and try something a little different? Try these ideas, and let us know if you come up with more of your own!
Curriculum Extension: Melody – Name that Tune
Hum or use the tonal bars to play a simple tune such as Mary Had a Little Lamb or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. See if your Lil’ Sprouts can guess the song you are playing by recognizing the melody. Have you realized Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Blacksheep, and the ABC’s are all sung to the same melody?
Curriculum Extension: Melody – Tonal patterns
Sing simple two or three note tonal patterns, and have the class repeat after you. Use simple syllables, such as ba, instead of words, so the focus is on note rather than a word. Even babies who cannot talk can mimic the tonal pattern using simple syllables. You can also use the tonal bars to play the tonal pattern, then sing it, then have the class repeat. The first three notes of Three Blind Mice is a good, simple tonal pattern to try first!
Curriculum Extension: Melody – Composition
Have your Lil’ Sprouts try composing their own tunes using bean bags and tonal bars. Choose three or four bean bags and arrange them in a row. Then try playing those colors on the tonal bars and see how the tune sounds. Then rearrange the bean bags and see how it sounds different. This is a good partner activity. One partner can arrange the bean bags and the other can play the tune, and then switch.
Curriculum Extension: Rhythm vs. Beat
Explore the difference between rhythm and beat. Beat is the regularly timed stresses within a piece of music, as if a metronome were playing. Rhythm is comprised of the patterns of long and short notes played to the beat of the music. Explore this difference by first clapping or bouncing to the beat of Mary Had a Little Lamb. Some Lil’ Sprouts will be able to clap along with you while the littlest ones should bounce on their caregivers knees to feel the beat. After two or three times through clapping to the beat, switch to clapping the rhythm of Mary Had a Little Lamb. This means you will clap for every syllable or note that you sing. There will be many more claps, and probably too many bounces, so caregivers can try just patting the rhythm on the legs or backs of the littlest ones.
Curriculum Extension: Rhythm Patterns
Play a simple rhythm pattern by either tapping a drum, clapping your hands, tapping your hands on your legs, or singing. If you sing, keep the tone constant so the focus is on the rhythm. Have the class vocalize or tap along with you. A simple rhythm pattern to try first is slow, quick, quick.
Curriculum Extension: Singing in Rounds
Try dividing your class into three groups and singing Row Row Row Your Boat in rounds, meaning the second group begins singing once the first group has completed the first line and the third group begins singing once the second group has completed the first round. Let the caregivers know that their participation in this activity is vital.
Next, understand the Potential Challenges and Tips for a Family Style Classroom.
The age groupings within a class can affect the dynamic of that class tremendously. Teaching a class full of Lil’ Sprouts under the age of two will be a different experience than teaching a mix of toddlers and preschoolers. The family style model works wonderfully because the little ones love watching the bigger Sprouts, and the older ones get the opportunity to model for the littlest Sprouts, but challenges can arise when one or two members of a class are at a significantly different developmental stage than the entire rest of the class.
One Sing n’ Sprout teacher shared, “Having a class that is mostly young Lil’ Sprouts with only one or two 3 or 4 year olds has the potential to raise some challenges. I once had one four year old in a class of mostly two-year-olds, and the older child did not mind a bit that he was the only one who was really able to participate verbally. He loved the class and participated to the fullest extent of his ability. I also once had one three year old in a class of mostly younger children, and in that case the older girl shut down and acted out. She repeatedly told her mom that she did not want to be in a baby class despite our best efforts to encourage her and ask her to be a special helper within the class. She had attended several sessions with me before and loved the class experience when she was not the oldest one in the class, but ultimately, she did withdraw from that session.”
Given these experiences, keep an eye on the class lists as registrations roll in. If you have a class of mostly two and unders, and a four year old signs up, consider giving the parents a call to describe the situation and get their take on how their child might respond.
Maintaining a safe classroom for all participants is always of utmost importance. Tell your parents that safety is your highest priority, and get all of the adults in the room to help you set this tone. Two and three year olds have a lot of energy, are much bigger than babies, and are still learning how to be in control of their bodies and aware of the space around them. Before activities that involve moving around the room, remind parents to help all of the Lil’ Sprouts be aware of the space around them. For activities that may involve a babies lying on their backs on the floor while older children dance nearby, consider laying the babies on blankets and using the blankets as boundaries reminding the older children not to step on the blankets.
Continue with How to Read the Children.
Not every child is the same and not every class is the same! The personality of each class will vary depending on the time of day, the ages of the Lil’ Sprouts, and the mix of temperaments in the class. You need to adapt to their needs, not the other way around. Happy kids means happy parents, which means enrollment in your classes!
You can learn to “read” them and their signals. It takes time and practice to learn to take a step back and observe your classroom as if you were a fly on the wall. As the teacher, you are often very focused on the lesson plan and on what is supposed to happen, but sometimes you will need to amend that lesson plan for the needs of the children in the class.
If the majority of a class is fidgety, not paying attention, and doing something other than what has been instructed, such as running or playing with other kids, ask yourself, “Did I give clear concise directions?” If you did, it could be that particular activity has run its course and they are now bored with it. It may be time to move on to the next activity. Watch for these signs so you are able to move the class on to the next thing before they get too off track. Sometimes a fidgety class can result from disengaged parents. If the parents in the room are talking to each other and not paying attention to the children, you may need to give them instruction on what to do or even kindly ask them to talk before or after class. You should not be the only adult working in your classroom. If your parents are negatively impacting the tone of the room, read more about Drawing Parents into the Classroom Experience.
If the majority of the class is actively engaged, working with a parent, and entertained, they may need to linger in the activity longer, even if the song or the allotted time period is up. For example, if a class is really into building with sand blocks when you would otherwise collect the sand blocks, you might acknowledge what is going on. Rather than upset them by taking the sand blocks away, put on one more song, and ask what they are creating.
Each class will contain children with a variety of temperaments. As you move around the room during activities, try to connect with each child. How you will connect will vary depending on the nature of the child.
Some children will be shy. They may cry when coming into the room, hide behind a parent, or look away when you try to talk with them. The stranger danger/separation anxiety is at its peak in these age groups. Invite all of the parents to get there early to help the kids warm up to the environment and transition into class. As you work your way around the room during up and moving songs, never force a shy child to do anything he or she is not comfortable doing. Instead, meet them where they are and offer gentle invitations. Let them warm up, get down on eye level, and offer ways to participate without being “showy”. Connecting with a shy child may be as simple as just sitting next to them and tapping a maraca on your knee and offering a smile. You may find you connect best with a shy child without saying any words. Give them time, and you’ll find many will warm up to you!
Other children will have very dominant personalities. Some children will want to answer every question you ask, carry on a conversation with you throughout the class, and be the first to take a turn always. Offer them chances to be your assistant or to show others how to participate. Accept who they are without shutting them down. If you need help balancing the dynamic in the classroom, ask the parents on the dominant children to help them with taking turns.
For an active class, offer lots of movement opportunities! Movement is needed at this age, so embrace the wiggles! For tips on managing an active class, read up on Classroom Management.
If you come across an indecisive child, limit choices! If you are doing an activity that involves creating an action or choosing instrument, don’t overwhelm them with too many options. Offer only two choices, and they should have an easier time making the choice.
Finally, some children have special needs. Most children at this age do not have an “official” diagnosis, but if they do, and the parent offers that information, be sure to ask what best suits the child and his learning style. Be as inclusive as possible. Most parents of children with special needs are struggling to fit into groups because they feel alienated and alone. Reassure them they are welcome members of your class. Offer sensory friendly experiences. Turn the music down if a child is covering her ears and use quiet time as a reset for them. Know that parachutes, loud noises, and lots of activity can be very overwhelming whether a child has special needs or not. Remind the parents there is nothing wrong with taking a step back to observe or talk through an activity.
From time to time, even the most experienced teacher will feel the class getting away from her. What can you do to right a sinking ship?
a. Change the activity level
•If it’s an up and moving one, change to a focused activity.
•If it’s an activity requiring a lot of focus, change to a gross motor skill.
b. Change the volume level. c. Move the lesson plan around to accommodate their needs while preserving the overall objectives. This requires knowing the plan and GOAL of each activity inside and out!
d. Bring out the bubbles, not to disrupt the class, but as a sensory calming activity!
e. Offer a quiet time song to bring the energy of the room down for a few minutes. Ask the adults in the room to help you set the tone. Tell everyone not to talk during the quiet time song but to rock or snuggle or just listen to the music.
Give yourself time and opportunities to practice reading children. The more you teach, the more you learn about reading your classroom. There is a lot to process while you are teaching, but in addition to the lesson plan you are setting out to accomplish, remember to take a step back and try to see how your class looks from the outside. You could have a teacher, parent, or someone who’s familiar with the age group observe your class and give you notes. Record yourself teaching and watch later to see your strengths and weaknesses. Offer demos to area playgroups, MOPS groups, whoever may be interested! The more you are in front of your audience, the more relaxed and adaptive you will be!
For any class and any age grouping, you’ll want to practice Classroom Management and How to Handle an Active Class.
God created kids to be active and full of life!! Let’s not disqualify how God created them, but rather, GO with it! If you have a particularly wiggly class, change your lesson plan to accommodate more movement. It is not uncommon for this to happen with evening classes. Keep the overall objectives in mind, but be adaptive. If interest seems to be waning, wrap up a seated activity more quickly than you otherwise would, or change things around and trade a seated activity for one that is up and moving. The curricula can still happen as big movements, rather than seated activity.
Keep a few BIG gross motor activities in your mind (back pocket). If your class won’t settle and you’ve tried adapting your activity, then add one of these in, and then resume your class.
1. “On our way now” Play various sounds and rhythms with rhythm sticks and have the class match the sounds with their feet as they march around the room.
2. Catch, pop, or stomp bubbles for a few minutes. You can blow them yourself or use a bubble machine.
3. Play with the parachute. Try Shake to My Loo or Wheels on the Bus.
Big gross motor activities are great for getting the energy out, but children also need to be cued to bring the energy level back down. Adding a quiet time song into every single class is very effective to break up the stimulation. Half or two thirds of the way through, turn off the lights and play a slower song or a classical piece (or break out your guitar if you play!) and tell everyone that this song is an opportunity to bring the energy of the room down. Let them know that we do that simply by setting the tone, and the Lil’ Sprouts typically follow along very nicely. Tell the adults in the room that we try not to talk during the quiet time song, but do use it as an opportunity to just listen to the music or rock or snuggle or sway quietly if a Lil’ Sprout wants to be held. It is also a great way to introduce the idea of “quiet time” or spending time praying, reading the bible, or thinking about God, who He is and how much He loves us. Invite each family to find their own space in the room. You could give out scarves during quiet time, and and encourage quiet activities with them. Some like to play peek-a-boo and many Lil’ Sprouts enjoy laying down on the floor and looking up while a parent swishes a scarf over their head, covers them with the scarf, or rests a hand on their back. All come to anticipate this break in the class, and they know just what to do since it is part of the routine. Kids aren’t born knowing how to relax, it’s a learned behavior!
Bumpy behaviors will arise for even the most experienced Sing n’ Sprout teacher. It is simply the nature of the age group. The number one thing to do is empower the parent. If you’ve created a relationship with the parent, then it makes this a little easier. Refer back to the statement you made to parents at the start of the session, remind the caregiver to be a team with the child, and tell them they are, “Free to move about the cabin! Go where they go, and do what they do.” Giving the parent the permission to move about the classroom will keep them engaged with the child.
Make sure your expectations and those of your parents are developmentally appropriate. If a toddler is up wandering the room, or “doing laps,” but not bothering anyone, let it happen. They are still absorbing the class even while up and moving. This is developmentally appropriate for a toddler. An older preschooler, however, is capable of, and can be expected to sit with the circle within reason. Since we accommodate SO many ages/stages, your mindset must be accepting of behaviors that are developmentally appropriate. When a child begins to learn a behavior, it takes repetition, and that goes for wandering the room as well, so if you see a behavior developing that you do not want to continue, take action early.
Satisfy the needs you observe! If many are up and moving, you need to be up and moving! Adapt your lesson to fit the need. Throwing is actually a developmental stage. They are developing their gross motor muscles and need large over shoulder movements to build those. Offer safe alternatives such as rolling, dropping, or, when using bean bags offer a throwing station with a basket in one corner.
When you do have to make a correction, always do so with kindness. Bring it back to your class code! If a child hits, you could say, “Carson, you’re not using your hands with kindness, in our class we are safe and kind. Show me kind hands, awesome! Kind Hands!” If a child throws, you could say, “Caitlin, you’re throwing things, that’s not safe. In our class we are safe! What would be a safe way to use your sticks? (demonstrate if need be) Awesome way to be safe!” Always keep corrections short, on eye level and age appropriate!
These age groups are hard at work developing their emotions and how to handle them. Some Lil’ Sprouts may not have the words to express how they are feeling so try and help them find those words and a way to correct them. Try saying, “Carson, your body looks like this (angry face, clenched fists, etc) and you are mad! What happened to make you mad? (or give what you observed happen) I’m sorry you feel mad. Take a deep breath in and put your hand on your heart. Help it slow down.” If you’ve created relationships with the parents, handling the big emotional outbursts becomes less of an issue. When they feel comfortable in your classroom, the “stress” to not be “that” parent subsides. Offer kind words of relation to the parent and you’ll help forge that bond.
Continually gauge the energy level of the room. High energy is fun, but out of control leads to accidents. If the energy level gets too high, try one of the follow classroom control techniques to regroup.
• “Ready, set, LISTEN!” One of the activities we do to warm up with instruments involves singing simple instructions to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down, such as “Tap your rhythm sticks on the floor, on the floor, on the floor. Tap your rhythm sticks on the floor. Ready, set, LISTEN!” The words, “Ready, set, LISTEN!” in this activity cue the class to direct their attention toward you. Singing just “Ready, set, LISTEN!” can get a class back on track in any activity.
• Loud and Quiet When the classroom is loud and it is time for you to give instruction, trying to talk loudly over the noise can be a losing battle. Try getting the class on board with a pattern of loud and quiet. If you have a bell or sand blocks in your hand, use them to make a lot of noise with a big smile for a few seconds, and then put your finger to your lips, say, “Shhh,” and crouch down a bit. Then, repeat, alternating between loud and quiet, and after about three repetitions, everyone in the room should be on board, and the instructions can be given. If you don’t have a bell or sand blocks, the same thing can be achieved by clapping a simple rhythm pattern and pausing, then repeating. For example clap, clap-clap-clap, pause. Then, do it again, and other adults in the room will join you until everyone is with you. At times you may find yourself having to manage the adults in the room in addition to the Lil’ Sprouts, so read about Drawing Parents into the Classroom Experience.
At times you may find yourself fighting for not the attention of the Lil’ Sprouts in the classroom, but the attention of the parents! Friends sign up for class together, which is a good thing, and mom’s enjoy the opportunity to catch up with a friend since they’ve spent the rest of their day meeting their children’s needs. This is part of the ministry of Sing n’ Sprout – it is a chance for the adults to connect, too, not just the Lil’ Sprouts, but their attention should be focused on their child and the class activities while class is going on.
Some parents just don’t know how to participate in class. So you’ll want to tell them how and give them permission! Create a safe space, where the goal is bonding between the caregiver and the child, not just the teacher leading class. Encourage them to take these 45 minutes and be fully present with their kiddo. Give them permission to have fun, goof off, learn, and engage with their children. For parents to do this, you have to let the walls down. Be open, caring, goofy and invite them to be with you! Start a new session with a statement like, “You and your child are a team, and I want you to be a successful one! Take this 45 minutes and really love on them, be present, laugh, have fun, be goofy! Your child will love having just your attention and learn by watching you!” Also remind them, “This classroom is a safe space. Your child will not do anything that hasn’t happened before. There is no judgement from anyone here. Take a deep breath and exhale those expectations! God is working in your child’s life and building them as they should.”
Once you’ve invited the parents into the experience, they are more likely to avoid the difficult parent behaviors. Continue to offer invitations throughout the classes. Tell parents they are doing a good job, and offer ways for them to continue to engage in the class. Teach the parents how to scaffold behavior. Have them validate what their child is doing, and then ask for the next step. This might sound like, “Johnny, I like how you are ringing your bell. Can you reach it way up to the sky? Then, can you tap it on the floor?” Encourage parents to model behavior for their children, play with them, go where they go in the classroom, get down on the same level with their children, and copy them. It is helpful to have enough instruments for each Lil’ Sprout and parent to have one. This may not be possible when you are just starting teaching, but keep it in mind as a goal. Sometimes parents don’t know how to interact like this with their child and need the nudge to do it!
At times, even when you invite the parents into the classroom experience, talking amongst the adult in the classroom will still be a problem. It is understandable. Parents of little ones have very limited time to connect with other grownups! Parents are going to talk, and you want that to occur, but on your terms! If possible with your location and schedule, invite everyone to come to class ten minutes early and/or stay ten minutes late for fellowship time for the moms. This will also give the Lil’ Sprouts to become comfortable in the new environment. Schedule a stay and play lunch hour after class once or twice a semester to encourage friendships.
Be relatable to the parents in your class without over sharing. Talk with your families before and after class, get to know them, remember parts of their life! When you invest in them, they will feel connected and bonded to class! Just share enough to connect. Ask for prayer requests or offer a prayer jar for families. Follow up or send a note. You extra effort will come back to you.
If the chatting keeps happening, try to resolve it as soon as possible. Be frank, but caring. It can be difficult to know what to say, so here are some suggestions. “Don’t forget, right now we’re supposed to be _____, move about the cabin with your child and do this together!” “I know that this seems like a great time to chat with your friends, and I have SO been there too, but your kiddos would love some extra special attention from you during class. I’d love for you to be more involved and have fun with us. How about you come a few minutes early to chat, or schedule a playdate after class?”
Try and remember OUR mission, to share God’s love to the littlest Sprouts. If we operate out of God’s love for all people, our worldview becomes different!
Equip yourself by Understanding the Benefits of Music and Movement so you can share the reasons for doing what you’re doing with the parents in your classes.
Music and Movement Benefits
• Stimulate brain growth
The ability to keep a steady beat is connected in brain development to both math and language skills. Every single Sing n’ Sprout activity is an opportunity for a child to not only hear a steady beat, but feel it as well. Experiencing a steady beat with as many senses as possible promotes the formation of synapses (connections between neurons, or brain cells) through which message flow. The ability to keep a steady beat allows a child to walk steadily, cut smoothly with scissors, and perform many other daily tasks.
Participating in intentional music and movement activities causes the earliest mathematical connections to form in a child’s brain, and sets her up for future success in math. “Musical elements such as steady beat, rhythm, melody, and tempo possess inherent mathematical principles such as spatial properties, sequencing,counting, patterning, and one-to-one correspondence.”
“Being able to keep a steady beat helps a person to feel the cadence (rhythm) of language and involves the vestibular system.”
http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=601 Early music and movement activities prepare the brain to listen to, understand, and speak language. “The vestibular system in the brain allows us to stand upright, maintain balance, move through space, and process visual information about the environment while we are in motion… The vestibular system influences motor control and motor planning that are necessary to use the fine muscles in the throat, tongue, lips, and jaw to produce intelligible speech.”
Music and movement also help with vocabulary, memory, and reading. Specifically, cross-lateral movements, or movements involving an arm or leg crossing the vertical midline of the body, force the two halves of the brain to talk to each other through a nerve pathway called the corpus callosum. This nerve pathway is what allows the eyes to move back and forth across a page in order to read.
• Reduce the amount of emotional stress or physical pain
• Positively affect motor development
• Improve linguistic skills including vocabulary, expressiveness and communication
• Open the doors to emotional and creative expression
• Enrich social skills
• Intellectually enhance academic skills such as reading, writing as well as memory
• Improve self-esteem and sense of identity
• Provide the joyful experience of community
Revenue is Up to You
Your overall budget will determine how much you’ll be able to put towards various expenses. Determine how many classes you’d like to teach and how much you’ll charge to estimate your revenue. In some cities you may be able to charge $50/child for an 8-week session, but if you’re from a small town you might only charge $35. Because affordability is one of the core values of Sing n’ Sprout, it is recommended that you charge about half of what other music and movement programs in your area charge.
Think about how many sessions you’d like to teach each year. Will you begin new sessions as soon as an 8-week session ends, or will you just teach sessions in the Spring and Fall of each year? Look at the calendar to lay out your schedule. Consider holidays and school breaks for older siblings. Strike the balance that is right for you and your family.
Expenses to Consider
It may take you a few sessions to pay off your start up expenses such as your class set of instruments and anything you’ve bought to set up your classroom (rug, decorations, CD player or bluetooth speaker, etc.). Beyond the start up costs, you’ll want to consider allocating for several other expenses along the way.
• Small business insurance each year
• Rental expenses
• CDs to distribute to your families each session
• Additional curriculum and instruments
• Supplies (hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes for instruments, stamps, name tags, craft supplies if you so desire)
Be sure to Document Income and Expenses.
You should keep track of all of your revenue and expenses using a spreadsheet or simple accounting software. A simple credit/debit sheet can be created in a spreadsheet by using one column for revenue and one column for expenses. Date and label each entry. Sum each column at the bottom, and subtract expenses from revenue to determine profit.
Open a separate bank account for all of your Sing n’ Sprout income and expenses. It does not need to be a business account, but rather just a free checking account. This separate account will make it much easier to keep track of the numbers.
Protect yourself and your business by having small business insurance.
Sing n’ Sprout recommends that you carry small business insurance. Contact an insurance professional to discuss this fully. You can start by calling the company that carries your homeowners or renters policy. They may offer small business insurance as well, or will have a recommendation for you. You should have coverage for all of your instruments and supplies and liability in case an accident occurs. When you find your space to teach make sure to ask what their insurance will cover. Some spaces may have insurance that will not cover any accidents that could happen in your class and some will expect you to carry your own insurance.
Music (Disclaimer: Click HERE to learn if you qualify to play music without copyright permission or if you need to obtain a license).
Educate yourself about paying Sales Tax and Income Tax.
Sing n’ Sprout recommends contacting your SBA (small business association) in your location and setting up a meeting. They will help you determine when and how you need to pay taxes, and they may even be able to give you some good tips for your area. These services are usually free so take advantage of them.
Not all states tax services, but if your state does, you should apply for a sales tax permit and collect and remit sales tax to your state. The amount you sell will determine how often you must remit payment to your state, likely on a quarterly or semi-annually basis. You can obtain the sales tax license through the Department of Revenue.
For income tax purposes, you will likely be set up as a sole proprietorship, but could create a separate LLC if you want liability protection. You will be the sole owner and not part of a partnership. You will not need an EIN (employer identification number) unless you plan to have employees. When you file your taxes, you will file a Schedule C for your Sing n’ Sprout business. This form looks at the net taxable income from your business. You will need to keep receipts and look at the possible deductions such as supplies, office expenses, mileage, computer, advertising, insurance, and meals. This can get complicated so finding a tax preparer to help you is advised.
Terms and Conditions As a Sing n’ Sprout teacher, you agree to the terms and conditions. Please read the complete statement of terms and conditions provided with every curricula.
Tips for a successful and engaging social media presence
1. Set up a Facebook and Instagram page. Visit our “Sing n’ Sprout Studio – Sioux Falls” page to get ideas. You have our permission to copy our posts to your page.
2. Promote more activity on your page by asking moms and dads to “check-in” on Facebook when they arrive at class. When they check-in it will appear on their timeline and all of their friends will be able to see that they have been to your class. This will bring more traffic to your page. More traffic = more likes = more students signed up!
3. At the beginning of class ask caregivers to share any pictures they take on your Facebook page. (Remember, a photo release is needed if it’s of more than their child.)
4. Encourage parents to rate your class. People enjoy seeing 5 star reviews before purchasing.
5. Ask your local online yard sale groups if it would be okay to post about your upcoming classes. Some groups do not allow or have specific rules for marketing posts, so be sure to ask first.
6. Ask your local moms groups about posting about your classes. Offer a small discount (5-10%) to advertise to their group, or provide a shortened free demo class to their group.
7. Use tag and win posts. Have customers tag friends who would be interested in Sing n’ Sprout and offer a $5 Starbucks card for a random winner.
8. Boost your posts for $5 or $10 by selecting words to target customers.
Tips on how and what to post
1. Keep your posts simple and engaging. Posts that are too wordy or complicated are less effective.
2. Ask a question in your post. What did your Lil’ Sprouts do this weekend? What’s your Lil’ Sprout’s favorite instrument? Elicit feedback. This will increase traffic on your page.
3. Answer your own question in your post.
4. You have less than 3 seconds to catch a reader’s attention – post pictures and videos!
5. Ask parents to share pictures in comments.
6. Don’t just sell. Post about more than sign ups and when classes are starting.
7. When you do post about your classes, say “only have 2 spots left”, “filling up quickly”, NOT “only 2 spots taken so far.” You want parents to understand there is a sense of urgency to sign up!
8. Show a glimpse into your life such as a picture of you praying over a class list or your kids holding a Sing n’ Sprout CD in their swimsuits in the yard.
9. Provide parents with resources that may help them.
10. Make parents excited about Sing n’ Sprout. Show how much fun is had, share positive comments people tell you, or share a comment your own child made about class.
11. Share interesting posts from other Sing n’ Sprout teachers.
1. Allowing children to explore through music can help develop not only their confidence, but help them to become more creative and expressive adults! What Sing n’ Sprout activities do you see your children practicing most at home?
2. Did you know that learning to keep a steady beat at a young age has been linked to helping kids with language skills? That’s linguistic skills require a good sense of rhythm. Were you musical when you were younger? What instruments did you play? I played (violin for 10 years).– add in what you did!!!
3. Children enjoy learning by using their bodies to “think”. Solving simple problems with their bodies (like hiding body parts under scarves) can help develop critical thinking skills for later in life. Do you find you think better while moving even as an adult? I certainly do!
4. What are you doing to get ready for the 4th of July? We are listening to our Sing n’ Sprout music while making cookies today! We hope that everyone has a safe and fun holiday weekend!
5. Research was done at the University of Miami and found that music is the single strongest activity that helps a parent and child bond. If your child was able to pick any activity for your family to do for a day, what would it be? We would (go to the zoo)!
6. Did you know that children (and adults) retain at least 50% more information when a movement component is added to the subject being learned. That’s why we move in class to help learn our memory verses. Have you memorized any new verses because of enjoying Sing n’ Sprout with your little one?
7. Are you doing anything fun this afternoon? I am!!! I’m writing each Sing n’ Sprout family a note for next week. How could I not after I found this cute stamp and amazing cards at Hobby Lobby today?!?!?! Can’t wait to see everyone next week!
8. Does your family take part in Halloween festivities? We decided that Miss Ariya would visit her Daddy at work today and the grandparents tomorrow. I’d love to see your Lil’ Sprouts in their costumes! Share a picture in the comments! (include a picture of your own kids!)
9. Is your family like mine? We sing songs from class even on our days off!!! “There once was a Lil’ Sprout who went to sleep ‘til the sun came out!”
10. Happy Easter week everyone! Are you and your Sprouts dying eggs this week? We are, and are listening to the God is Love CD while doing so!
Growing your Business
In growing your business, remember the rule, “Of cheap, fast, and well, you can have 2 of the 3, but not all 3!” Have patience. Solid growth takes time. There are many things you can do draw families to your classes.
In Person Outreach/Growth:
• Get involved with your community, especially local events that attract young families. If there is a church fair, preschool event, MOPS activity, craft show, or community day ask how you/your business can help. You may be able to set up a table or booth with an “Instrument Petting Zoo” and some Sing n’ Sprout music playing.
• Bring your parachute to use as a floor covering and lay out a few of each instrument for kids to explore. A bubble machine is always a huge draw, too! Have fun, and INTERACT with both kids and parents! Have a sign-up drawing to capture their contact info, and give away a session or a discount. Watch the cost of these events. Contact the organizer and offer a demo class to bring your cost down, or maybe even get paid to be there! Often times these events are cost effective and it’s a great way to network.
• Ask to Speak at area moms groups about the importance of Play in a child’s development and offer easy ways to incorporate God into their play. Follow up your talk with an invitation to a free demo class.
• Connect with a moms group on Meetup.com or through a playgroup and offer a free demo class.
• Host an Open House or Demo Class at the location where you teach.
• Have an open invitation for any new family to attend one of your classes for a free trial.
• Wear a Sing n’ Sprout t-Shirt at family events and carry business cards with you for whenever Sing n’ Sprout comes up in conversation.
• Contact your local Chick-Fil-A and offer a musical story time/craft with them.
• Be mindful of your customer! Where would they shop? Where would they eat? Print flyers with tear off flags and post them at local grocery stores, recreation centers, churches, and other places that offer activities for children. You may need to ask permission before posting. What park do they frequent? Have a free demo in the park!
• Print doorknob hangers and walk around your neighborhood putting them on doors.
• Offer Birthday Parties! You’ll get a chance to market your business (and get paid) to a whole new audience of people. Leave free preview cards, your business cards, or even a few Sing n’ Sprout CDs. Chat and connect with the families you meet!
• Establish relationships with piano teachers or teachers of other instruments. When your students age out of Sing n’ Sprout, you can offer recommendations for musical instruction, and the other teachers can recommend your Sing n’ Sprout classes to any families that have young children.
• Be active on social media, but not too active. Post every other day or 3-5 times each week. Don’t post several times a day. Look at your page insights often, see how people are interacting with your brand. Don’t always post about business, include some personal relevance so people connect with you.
• Strengthen your Google presence by using the link to your Facebook page or website in all areas, such as Yahoo Questions, Community Boards, and Mommy boards. The more your hyper link is on the web, the higher your google presence. Don’t comment unnecessarily, but answer questions relating to our brand audience.
• Consider blogging and write on relevant topics to your audience such as moms of preschooler topics, play at home, benefits of music, movement, etc. Set up a simple blog site and link to your facebook page.
• Use catchy graphics without a lot of text.
In growing your business, make sure you maintain a Culture of Value.
Hold yourself and your business to a high standard. Be professional and knowledgeable so your families feel like they are getting high value for their money. Also, let your families know that you value them! Remember that you are not only representing yourself and your business, but also the Sing n’ Sprout name.
Be knowledgeable about baby, toddler, and preschool development. Read, read, read! Know the benefits of the specific skills being practiced each lesson, and be comfortable working those into your normal classroom speech. Educate yourself on the “why” of the activities. Why are cross laterals important? Don’t be too technical or long-winded, but let the parents know that brain development is happening in addition to fun. It should come out naturally. “We’re working those cross-laterals today! Cross lateral movements force the two sides of our brains to talk to each other!” or “Early music helps build literacy skills.” Make it light and easy, worked right in! The more you practice talking about the benefits of the activities, the more comfortable you’ll become.
Be knowledgeable about musical terminology, not just for the Lil’ Sprouts but for the parents, too! Know the following terms, use them in class, and make them kid accessible!
• Beat – the regular timing, or pulse, of a piece of music
• Timbre – the “voice” of an instrument; why a piano and trumpet playing the same note sound different
• Dynamics – how quiet or loud music is
• Tempo – how fast or slow a song is;
• Presto describes music with a fast tempo and largo describes music with a slow tempo
• Pitch – how high or low a sound is
• Staccato describes music that is disconnected or bumpy
• Legato describes music that is smooth
In addition to sharing knowledge in class, include relevant topics in your emails, on your Facebook page, or on your blog. Parents will trust and value you as a source, and will read to further their own knowledge.
Make your families feel valued! Let them know what they do for you, whether it is bringing you joy each time you teach or providing your family with money that allows your children to participate in swimming, or both! Show them how much they mean to you by giving out certificates at the end of each session and giving little gifts for holidays. Offer special incentives just for enrolled families such as stay and play after class options, early enrollment discounts, or refer a friend deals. Most importantly, know your customers. Spend time investing in their lives! Take notes if you need to after class. Remember their names quickly. Talk to them about normal conversational items but remember their thoughts and bring it up again later.
Offer free preview classes, either by offering a demo class that is free for everyone who comes or by inviting new families to enjoy one of your classes as a trial without signing up. Trust that your class will sell itself. That does not mean that everyone who comes to a free trial class will sign up – there are schedule conflicts, distances to travel, costs, etc. – but if you have a good product, even those who may not sign up right away become free advertising when they tell their friends about class. Know parents objections to enrollment and be comfortable talking about them. Practice talking about enrollment and prices so you become comfortable. Believe in your own value!
Once you’ve arranged the class, take note of any details you’ll need to pass on to your families and include them in your Welcome Email. Let them know where they can park. (Assisted living facilities often reserve the closest parking spaces for residents only and ask all visitors to park near the back.) Be sure to give detailed instructions on how to sign into the facility and how to reach the room where the class will meet. Also note where the bathroom is located.
When you are ready to start teaching, arrive early! Introduce yourself to the person staffing the reception desk, and let him or her know that your families will be arriving. Give yourself time to set up the room, both your supplies and a circle of chairs for residents. Leave some space for wheelchairs or scooters. Come prepared with name tags and connect with the residents there just like you connect with your families. Encourage your families to do the same!
Have the older folks introduce themselves at the beginning of class when the moms and kids introduce themselves. You may not do formal introductions after the first two or three weeks of the session, but if a new resident joins you, be sure to go over to them and introduce yourself and ask their name. You might even include, “Hello to our grandmas, hello to our grandpas,” in the Hello Lil’ Sprouts song.
You’ll want to include some activities to promote interaction among the generations. At the beginning of class set out some instruments and encourage the kids to bring them to the residents. Try to have enough of each instrument you use in class for the Lil’ Sprouts and the adults in the room so everyone can engage in the music. This may not be possible at first, but strive for it. The kids love helping pass out and collect instruments from the residents. In class, activities that promote interaction include pausing the song in the middle of any activity and having them find someone with the same (or different) color maraca/bell/etc. and say, “Hello,” and moving around the circle and giving high fives or waves. If you don’t have too many people, you may even be able to do the parachute and stretchy band as one big group sitting in chairs and standing between the chairs.
At the end of class, include everyone in the goodbye song by saying something like, “I say good bye to the mamas, I say good bye to the grandmas, I say goodbye to the grandpas, we’ll see you here real soon!” If the schedule allows, encourage everyone to stay after class for a few minutes of conversation.