Creativity in bloom: new programs at St. Paul's Cooperative Preschool
The students at St. Paul’s Cooperative Preschool are bopping to a new beat and singing in a new language thanks to new programs added to the curriculum this year. There are not many formats in which young children can engage in a musical ensemble, but drumming fills the bill, and the new hands-on music class—a drum circle—is a huge success. Add to this the new Spanish class, the long-standing yoga program and last month’s art show and concert, and little minds are blossoming this spring.
The benefits of learning multiple languages are widely known, but the benefits of music instruction are less so. There is much going on in young brains while they are beating drums and playing other percussion instruments.
It is a way to blend motor and cognitive skills, as well as listening skills, so important to physical development and success in school. These skills are activated in full as students listen to instructions, to the music they are creating together, and to the teacher’s examples that they then repeat. These activities increase pattern recognition and stretch the capacity of the auditory cortex—good brain exercise and impulse control.
The 3- to 5-year-olds show a huge amount of control, setting aside the natural urge to test an instrument to its limits. “How loud can this thing go?” asks one child, but after just a few strikes he settles down to play with the group.
Adam Kukuk, music instructor and drum circle leader, hosts drum circles for all ages. (See upcoming events at www.deepgrooves.org.) As he said, “Drums allow an easy entry into music-making compared to other instruments, so all ranges of ability can participate. It is easy to make improvised music together, community music, even with 3-year-olds.” Kukuk added, “[Because] drumming is a whole-body, integrated activity, it increases immune response and decreases stress indicators. It creates community play. People are able to let their ‘inner rock star’ come out and jam. The kids get it every time because every preschooler is already a rock star.”
The children at St. Paul’s Cooperative Preschool may not know about the new synapses forming in their brains, but they are having fun getting in touch with their inner spark of creativity through drumming, yoga, art and singing (now also in Spanish).
The teachers at St. Paul’s celebrate the individuality of each child and guide their students to express themselves with confidence. Go to www.stpaulscooppreschool.com or call 216-932-0002 for more information or to arrange for a tour of the preschool.
Katrina Heinzen is a Cleveland Heights resident and parent of a St. Paul's Cooperative Preschool student.