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DO-RE-ME!: our January Wishmakers
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January 28, 2016  |  Written by Carlota Nelson

Did you know that 200 million children fail to reach their full potential by age 5?  UNICEF says it loud and clear on their site dedicated to Early Childhood Development, those first few years of life that are so crucial for their immediate wellbeing and their future. A good foundation in the early years makes a difference through adulthood and even gives the next generation a better start. 

With the mission of helping these children, especially those who need it most, there are innumerable early childhood development programs around the world, including some of the richest countries where extreme poverty, believe it or not, also exists.  And one of the best examples is Do-Re-ME!, a high quality, and cost effective program that is already causing impact in rural and urban America with rhythm, songs, love and lots of music. Keep reading to discover this unique program and our January Wishmakers!

The concept of the Do-Re-ME! curriculum had already been tested at the Acadiana Symphony & Conservatory of Music, in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of cities in North America  with the widest gaps between the rich and the poor. We had the privilege of speaking with Jenny Krueger, the director of the Do-Re-ME! program to learn more about this initiative that is undoubtedly helping make the world a better one.

The Toy Blog: Please describe Do-Re-ME! for our readers.

Krueger: Do-Re-ME! is an arts integrated curriculum that uses music to teach all the core competency areas and support what the teachers are already doing in the classroom.  This curriculum is designed with the kinaesthetic and visual learners in mind. 

How did the program go from being practiced at the Conservatory to being implemented at schools?

Krueger: The implementation of Do-Re-ME! was started after several community conversations and requests from local business and education leaders in our area.  These leaders were seeking innovative methods in addressing kindergarten preparedness levels in students attending high-risk schools in our area.  These students are also children in poverty.

TrumanClass

What benefits does music have for children? And how does music tie into your program?

Krueger: Music ignites all areas of child development: intellectual, social and emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. It helps the body and the mind work together.

Who are the children that take part of your program?

Krueger: All of the students in the Do-Re-ME! program, are students in poverty.  Many of the four year olds who enter the program have had very little interaction with books or music in their early years.  We see many children that enter into the program significantly behind in their preparation for their grade level.  These children (by no fault of their own), step into their first day of school significantly behind their peers. 

What is the impact of the program having on those children?

Krueger: Early evaluations are showing a 20% difference in kindergarten preparedness of children that participate in the Do-Re-ME! classes versus the students that do not. But the success of the program is also measured by the stories that we witness every single day. For example, in a kindergarten class, in one of our rural schools, there was a set of African American twins boys who entered school non-verbal.  

Justin barely performs at grade level, and Joseph simply watches his brother to imitate behaviour.  They rarely spoke, and interacting with each of them was difficult.  Their early years have been filled with high levels of trauma and social workers were sceptical about their transition into school.

The first few weeks of the Do-Re-ME! class the boys would sit in class with their heads down, not making eye contact, and not participating in class activities. This type of behaviour was also witnessed in their classrooms.   Eventually, they would lift their heads to see what was causing all of the happiness, laughter and music in the Do-Re-ME! classroom.  They soon started to get up and participate in the movement segments of the class.  Within a couple of months they were attempting to participate in the singing activities.  If you walk into their Do-Re-ME! classroom today you will see these boys dancing and singing with their classmates with huge smiles on their faces.

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Like them there are many other examples, including improvements in autistic children. We believe that if we can help these children feel successful at this age it will help level the playing field for them in their educational career.

Can this program be implemented in other countries?

Krueger: Yes! Do-Re-ME! is a technology-based curriculum. A Do-Re-ME! app has been developed and we are currently working on solidifying the funding to begin working with the necessary partners to finalize the product development piece of Do-Re-ME!  Once completed, Do-Re-ME!, and all of the pieces of the curriculum that are making it successful could be available to classrooms anywhere in the world, in any language, and for any cultural setting.

Portable programs are the new trend in education. This model allows for a higher quality, more affordable, specialized educational experience.

How has brain science helped you in the design of the curriculum?

Krueger: There is a lot of research that can explain the exact impact music can have on the development of a young child’s brain. We use the latest scientific findings to tweak our curriculum so that everything we deliver in our Do-Re-ME! class can have the maximum impact possible. 

What is something you would recommend to parents that they can do with their kids?

Krueger: Sing to and with your children.  Expose them to as many different cultures and sounds of music that you have available to you.  But even more importantly try to find children who have no opportunity for exposure to music and share it with them.

Who were your Wishmakers growing up and who are they today?

Krueger: I had a few music teachers who were key people in my life.  They inspired me, they believed in me, and they were great examples of how one person can make children better than anyone thought possible. They continue to support and guide me even now.  Now I would have to say I draw inspiration from children.  We need to listen to children more.  We underestimate what they can do.  They have so much to teach us, if only we would listen. 

We hope we´ve inspired you with this month´s Wishmakers! Make sure to check out their website and keep updated on all the Do-Re-ME! news, photos and videos available on their Facebook page.

And remember to give your children one of the best gifts in the world: music.

Photo Credits: Do-Re-ME! 

 

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