Coco Kyriopoulos, a Nashville mother of two, has encouraged her 2-year-old son Charlie’s involvement in enrichment programs since he was 6 months old.
She says there’s no doubt the activities are beneficial. “I have seen Charlie develop two important behaviors as a result of the (Funikijam) classes,” says Kyriopoulos. “How to take turns and how to put toys away.”
But beyond the social, the educational benefits reaped from preschool enrichment programs are uncontested. “By nature’s design, preschool children have a remarkable ability to absorb and process language,” says Chris Donohue, director of the East Nashville Center for the Creative Arts. “They recognize both language and music as a series of meaningful sounds, meaning that musical literacy plays a critical role in a child’s verbal development.”
Kristine Mains, a local Kindermusik educator, agrees. “I see a real correlation between rhythm and patterns and Kindermusik Kids’ abilities to problem solve, think critically and understand how something is related to another,” she says.
Music’s not the only answer to expanding a preschooler’s horizons, though. Kyriopoulos also takes her son to My Gym Children’s Fitness Center in Franklin. “The greatest benefit of My Gym is that it challenges children physically in a safe environment.”
Kristi Knierim, owner of My Gym and a former first grade teacher, says that her program introduces many different modes of learning (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.), and that the overall benefit – aside from the physical – is that it helps parents discover early on what learning style is best for their child. This information is priceless when the child’s formal education begins and parents work with teachers to build on their child’s strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. Mains believes that all children can be exposed to enriching activities. “I do not believe that ‘enrichment’ program means ‘expensive’ program.
I believe an ‘enrichment’ program is defined by the following: a joyful, positive, growing experience whereby a very young child’s natural strengths and gifts are nurtured by an invested, caring adult, and the focus of learning is about the process of exploration, not the product,” says Mains. “What Einsteins, Edisons and Ella Fitzgeralds will we miss out on because we accept for one nano-second that only certain children should have the chance to find out what their passion is, and pursue it?” adds Mains.
Liz Chilton, Nashville mother of 23-month-old Ben, agrees. “There are so many different types of programs available, from formal programs to many free, weekly programs offered throughout the community. These are such great opportunities for children to be exposed to different music, people, stories and more.” Donohue agrees.
“Children who have little or no opportunities to participate in (enrichment) programs miss out on the best proven way to become, like Einstein, life-long learners.” Why not take advantage of all that’s available? Middle Tennessee’s preschool enrichment offerings are endless. From library story times to free music festivals, there’s something to benefit children of all ages. My suggestion? Get out and enrich your preschooler’s life today.
Ashley Driggs is senior editor for this publication.
START THEM OFF RIGHT WITH SOME OF THESE AREA FAVORITES
Academy of Music and Drama
818 E. Clark Blvd., Murfreesboro • 217-1142
The Academy offers preschool music classes for ages 3 – 5. Classes focus on movement, finger exercises and listening skills through song games and develop rhythm on beginning musical instruments like drums and tambourines.
327-1336 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Help your baby speak before she can talk with baby sign language.
Be Smart Kids
500 Wilson Pike Cir., Ste. 120, Brentwood
144 Uptown Square, Murfreesboro • 890-0922
For ages 1 – 5, Be Smart Kids marries proven learning methods with modern technology to teach preschoolers reading, vocabulary, music, math/logic, motor skills, spatial/visual skills, social skills, second languages and positive values. Children can go to the learning centers for 30 minutes each week, or the software can be purchased with a money-back guarantee for home use.
Brian Barrentine’s Funikijam
2009 Belmont Blvd., Nashville
298-8198 • www.funkijam.com
Music and movement classes for newborns and older targeting social, cognitive and physical development by exploring musical traditions from Africa, the US, Egypt and Asia.
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
1200 Forrest Park Drive, Nashville
353-9827 • www.cheekwood.org
Weekly classes for Mom, Dad and child in art and clay. Parent and child work together to gain a basic understanding of the various art mediums. Call or visit the website for times, dates and prices.
The Club at Westside
11 Vaughn’s Gap Road, Nashville • 352-8533
Preschool Gymnastics for 3- to 5-year-olds and Mommie and Me Classes for 16 mos to 3 years are among the many offerings. Call for details or to register.
Creative Fitness Center
1207 Linden Ave., Nashville
383-9119 • www.creativefitness.citysearch.com
Creative Play class for the “itty-bittys” is designed for 3- and 4-year-olds to create art and participate in art-oriented games. Call or visit the website for class times, prices and more information.
East Nashville Center for the Creative Arts
228-9955 • encca.org
Early childhood music classes for 1- to 4-year-olds. Call or visit the website to learn more or to enroll.
Gymboree Play & Music
(located inside Bellevue Mall)
673-0333 • playandmusic.com
Programs are offered in a group setting and include physical play (ages 0 – 5 years), music (songs and musical games for ages 6 mos – 5 yrs) and visual arts (painting, drawing and sculpture for ages 18 mos – 5 yrs).
Barfield School of Dance • 896-3118
Brentwood • 371-8086
Donelson/Hermitage • 874-2110, 883-2485, 885-5075
East Nashville • 885-5075
Goodlettsville/Hendersonville • 885-2670, 885-5075
Lebanon • 874-2110, 883-2485
Leslie Hall School of Dance • 849-7886
Ridgetop • 855-2670
Vanderbilt • 322-7659, 293-4181
Music and movement programs for newborns to 7-year-olds incorporating CDs, books, instruments and activities to nurture the social, cognitive, emotional, language and physical development of children.
The Little Gym
99 Seaboard Lane, Ste. 100, Brentwood
661-6700 • tlgcoolspringstn.com
The Little Gym curriculum develops motor skills, builds coordination and balance and improves rhythm and flexibility. Classes offered Monday through Saturday for infants to 12 years. Call or visit the website for classes, schedules and pricing.
888-338-6268 • nmotionproductions.com
Mobile, on-location learning through music and physical activity offered to preschools and daycares.
188 Watson Glen, Franklin
591-7718 • my-gym.com
Classes offered Monday through Saturday for ages 3 mos and older. Songs, dance and movement all contribute to the physical and mental strengthening of a child. Call or visit the website for more details. A new Brentwood location is coming soon.