Participating in activities that require "joint attention" is another way of saying that two people are focused on the same task, object, or skill at the same time that they are focused on one another. In other words, parent and baby are playing (which is a child's real work) so they are learning together while they are learning about each other.
We may do body motions to keep a rhythm or in singing Eensy Weensy Spider. While we sing together we are looking at one another and learning the motor skills for the motions, learning the pitches for the song, learning the language and vocabulary, understanding the rhyming patterns, and making all the motions coordinate to the song. Recently a two year old demonstrated that she understood the vocabulary in the Spider song by turning the rain stick upside down exactly as we sang the phrase "down came the rain". We know that she understood, because she did this perfectly with the word "down" not just once, but two times--a perfect illustration of joint attention.
Another unique example of learning jointly is illustrated above as Miss Caitlyn helps Mr. N play the "falling thirds" songs on the alto xylophone. The title "falling thirds" means that we are singing an interval of a third (from A to F#) in a descending pattern in the first notes of the song. We sing about scrambled eggs, bubble bath, choo choo trains in these patterns while each child takes a turn holding the mallets and plays. They learn that the high pitch is on the right and the low pitch is toward the left, just as a keyboard is arranged. They are also learning to cross the midline of their body, which is an important skill for pre-reading (tracking words left to right) and for finding one's center.
Joint attention activities begin early because learning begins early. So far our youngest learner in Suzuki Early Childhood Education classes is five months old. She kicks her legs in a swimming motion when she sees the scarves and knows that it is time to dance. Or maybe she just likes the colors and the Boccherini Minuet or Tchaikovsky Waltz playing as we dance. Either way she is learning about color, creativity, rhythm, motion and hearing good examples of dance music.
As the children participate in the joint attention activities with a teacher, those who are waiting their turn are learning patience, which is very useful for real life, in school and in jobs.
In classes this week children ranging in age from 14 months to 26 months old came voluntarily, one at a time to play the xylophone with Miss Caitlyn, and when the song was finished they demonstrated that they knew how to store the mallets inside the xylophone as a signal that their turn was finished.
While each soloist is playing the xylophone the chorus of Moms, Grandparents, and babies sing and tap the xylophone's pattern on their knees. So the song, language, pitch, rhythm, and keyboard pattern is repeated as many times as there are children in the class. Repetition fosters security!
Come join us. Learning is so much fun! Tuesday mornings 10 AM, Thursday evenings 6:30 PM. Call 325-668-3189 or 325-829-4440 for more information.