What’s “ON Your Face” and “IN Your Voice” Makes a Difference in Your Child’s Development!

Baby imitates facial expression!

Baby imitates facial expression!

Our babies learn about trust, relationships and the world through our playful interactions. They are quick to react to the parent’s playful voice, smiles, eye contact, and touch. Delightful interactions such as, using expressive language, smiling with eyes and lips, making sounds, looking where your child is pointing and joining in a “call and response” type of language are important to your child’s healthy development.  Providing this sensory stimulation and interaction is vital to the child’s development.  WeJoySing stives “to foster [this] adult-child interaction, therefore cultivating the artistry of parenting and strengthening the family unit.” (taken from WeJoySing’s Mission Statement.)



This is never more evident than in a study conducted by Dr. Edward Tronick of Harvard University called the Still Face  Mother Experience. “Babies, this young, are extremely responsive to the emotions, reactivity and social interaction that they get from the world around them.” Dr. Edward Tronick.  The experiment instructed the mother to play and interact with her child as normal. When given a cue, she is to turn away from the child. When she turns back to face the child, she is to keep her face completely still and not respond to her baby. The baby very quickly picks up on this change. The child smiles, points, vocalizes, uses hand movements and playful gestures to get the mother back.  Signs of frustration, irritation, crying and meltdown begin when the child is unable to engage the mother.  It is a joyous reunion when the mother receives a signal to resume normal interaction with the child. The baby settles back into the comfort zone and joyful play she and mother have developed.



The same reactions and outcomes were discovered when Project ABC at the Children’s Institute performed the experiment with fathers. “What we have learned over the years is babies are much more capable than we initially imagined but they’re also much more vulnerable.”  Richard Cohen, Ph.D.

“We discovered how able the child is to initiate and be part of the relationship with the parent, and how much she depends on that healthy relationship in order to keep an even keel. And when she is grounded and comfortable, she can explore the world, try new things, and meet new people because there is a trust level there and she has that safe base she can always rely on." Dr. Richard Cohen.

It must also be noted that the voice and face to face experience is a crucial component. The mother and father were both physically present for the experiments, but their absence of facial expressions and vocal interaction caused the child distress.  Whereas the expressive speaking and facial interactions were joyfully absorbed by the young child.



Dr. John Feierabend, Ph.D., wrote, “If children experience expressive speaking, they will assimilate that skill.  If children are read to in an expressive voice, they will later read aloud and to themselves with appropriate expression.” Music and Movement for Infants and Toddlers: Naturally Wonder-full.

We know that initial adult responsiveness from caretakers are keys to the baby’s success as a child and an adult which is why we include joyful Bounces, Wiggles and Tickle experiences in all of our WeJoySing classes from infant through 1 year old. We want to bring the mother or father face to face…joy to joy…with their child to build this healthy secure sense of relationship.



Bouncing an infant or toddler provides an ideal experience of a steady beat over rhythmic speech for the very young child. These rhymes and songs often consist of delightful melodies and the young infant can experience the beat and the delight on the parent’s face as he/she share the experience together

Wiggling a young one’s fingers or toes from largest to smallest has inspired many rhymes that provide the child to experience the cadence of the rhyme while discovering that, “Hey! Those are MY TOES!!”

Tickles begin in a baby’s palm or on a belly and work up the baby’s arm or body, ending in a gentle delightful little tickle. The anticipation of the tickle at the end is the greatest joy!

Bond with your little one with a few of our favorite Bounces, Wiggles and Tickles shared below.
The benefits to you and your child are far-reaching…and such fun!
Here we go up up up
Lift baby over-head OR lay baby on floor
gently bring to seated position (support neck)
Here we go down down down Bring baby back to lap OR gently lower baby to lay back down
Here we go back and forth Rock baby forward and back OR with baby on floor,
gently rock side to side
And here we go round and round Roll baby’s arms or legs

Trot, trot to London, trot, trot to Dover
Outstretched legs, child facing parent
Watch out baby, or you might fall over. At end, tip child to the left

Trot, trot to London, trot, trot to Dover Outstretched legs, child facing parent
Watch out baby, or you might fall over. At end, tip child to the right

Trot, trot to London, trot, trot to Dover Outstretched legs, child facing parent
Watch out baby, or you might fall over. At end, tip child backward

Trot, trot to Boston, trot, trot to Lynn, Outstretched legs, child facing parent
Watch out, baby, or you might fall in! At end, open legs and let child ‘fall’ gently to the floor
Increase tempo each time

Big “A” Little “a”
Place baby on outstretched legs facing adult
Open baby’s arms wide, bring together
And bouncing B, bouncing B Bounce baby on kne
Cat’s in the cupboard, Clap hands on “Cat’s” and “cup”….
And you can’t see me! Cover baby’s eyes or your own eye
Peek-a-boo! Play peek-a-boo

This Little Baby Rocked the Cradle Rock child’s arms side to side
This little baby jumped on the bed Jump your fingers in child’s palm
This little baby crawled on the carpet Crawl your fingers on child’s arm
This little baby bumped his head Tap child’s head gently
This little baby played hide and seek… Cover your eyes with both hands
Where’s my little baby? Peek and cover eyes again
Oh, oh, peek! Oh, oh, peek! Peek and give baby big HUG!

Creepy Creepy Little Mousie
Slowly walk fingers up baby’s arm, leg or body
From the barnsey to the housie
Found some cheese and ate it upsie
Nibble, nibble, nibble, nibble. Nibble baby’s neck, chin, fingers, toes, etc.

Criss Cross Make large X on child’s back
Apple Sauce. Tape child’s shoulders twice
Spiders crawling up your spine! Walk fingers up child’s spine
Cool breeze, Blow lightly on child’s neck
Tight squeeze, Hug child
Now you’ve got the shivers! Tickle child

Joyfully Submitted,
Mrs. Kristi

What Does JOYFUL LEARNING Look Like?

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Excitement abounds when your child eagerly rocks back and forth and loudly sings “The More We Get Together” perfectly echoes the teacher’s singing and movements, or when he proudly plays the drum in front of all the other children when it’s his turn.  I ask you, “Can there be any better confirmation that our children are having fun, learning, and loving music class?!” BUT, does joyful learning always have to look like this?

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My son, Breck, loves to stay close to me during his WeJoySing class, mostly sitting in my lap and prefers to be held during most standing activities.  This is especially true when he’s in a large group!  He hides his eyes when it’s his turn to say his name during The More We Get Together,” and he’s not interested in playing his drum on command when it’s his turn.  He often quietly but intensely watches his teacher, Mrs. Lynnette, instead of playing the instrument in his hands. I have wondered: is he “getting anything” out of class; is he having fun; what is he learning when he isn’t “actively participating” during class?  

Learning Styles: Doers-Watchers-Listeners
A significant portion of my life as an elementary school educator has been spent studying child development. However, I realized that despite what I KNOW to be true about children and the way they learn, I wasn’t acknowledging the fact that each one of us, including my son, has a wonderfully unique learning style.  Some people learn better by watching, some by listening, some by doing.  We all have different strengths and types of intelligence that impact the way we learn.  These components, combined with our personality and temperament, make up the way that we learn best.  

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I needed to consider my son’s learning style and personality when thinking about his experiences in WeJoySing.  At home with his Dad and me he is downright enthusiastic, energetic but, is much more reserved in larger groups and in public places.  He becomes more cautious, careful, and hesitant.  I needed to realize this wasn’t a flaw or something to be worried about, but a special part of his personality that I needed to nurture and BE COMFORTABLE with, instead of feeling the need to force him into active participation.  That would come when and if HE was comfortable with it.

With this new perspective my view of Breck’s WeJoySing experiences began to change. I began to recognize and identify ways in which he has LEARNED, GROWN, and expressed JOY.

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  • Although he doesn’t always sing “la la” when he receives his stamp in class, he will spend the car ride home and the remainder of the night periodically glancing at his stamps and SINGING “la la.”  
  • Although he may simply watch Mrs. Lynnette while we play sticks and sing about Jack and Jill, I often hear him waking up in the morning singing “up, up, up, up, up” as his voice raises in pitch
  • Despite his seemingly disinterest in having a drum “solo” during class, he will pull out his own drum at home and play the steady beat, singing and humming to himself while he drums.  His class time is spent processing all this information!!  Amazing!!


  • Only 12 months ago he would sob when he had to return his instruments.  Now he eagerly walks over to Mrs. Lynette, waits patiently in line with his ready hands, and smiles proudly as he returns to me.
  • Typically, Breck wants to be held during movement songs, but finally, in his 7th week of his 4th WeJoySing session, he held my hand while walking, jumping, dancing, and running to music.  And on the same day, he held the parachute by himself and walked in a circle with the other kids in class!   I celebrated his independency and self-assurance that “I can do this!!”

Expressing Joy…  

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  • Although he is shy when in a larger group, at home he dances, sings, and plays instruments as I practice the songs for my own WeJoySing classes.
  • Although he doesn’t always want to play during class, he finds his bells at home and yells “horse” until I sing “Bell Horses” with him. He even eagerly hides the bells behind is back at the end!
  • Although he doesn’t raise his hands up and perform the motions to the apple tree song, he will shout out his favorite color “PURP!” (purple) when Mrs. Lynnette asks what color the apples should be.
  • Although he will sit quietly in my lap and stare intensely at Mrs. Lynnette as she sings (while other children play their instruments), as soon as the song is over he’ll shout “more, more!”

Uniquely Different
Joy doesn’t look the same for all kids.  Participation doesn’t look the same for all kids. Learning doesn’t look the same for all kids. And praise God, they are not all the same!  Each of our children has a unique way of learning and expressing themselves. How special is that?  It’s our privilege and responsibility as parents to CELEBRATE our children just the way they are.

We can nurture our children’s sense of comfort and participation by continuing to model our enthusiasm for music, by fully engaging with our children even when they don’t seem to be responding, and by celebrating their efforts in all circumstances (even when it looks like non-participation).

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Benefits Galore
Breck is not the kid who “looks” like he is having the time of his life, imitating everything the teacher does during class.  He is not the one who eagerly participates in every activity.  But when I take the time to think about all the ways he has grown throughout his time in WeJoySing, it becomes clear that he IS LEARNING and that he LOVES music.  

My son is not only developing musical skills while in WeJoySing, but he is learning the incredibly important skills of how to listen, how to wait patiently, and how to celebrate another child’s turn.  Breck is developing important fine and gross motor skills, building his vocabulary, and enhancing his verbal abilities.  He is making mind-body connections in ways that only music can facilitate.  He is developing relationships with his teacher and other students, and forging an even stronger bond with me, his mom, through this shared experience.  

I love teaching WeJoySing, but even more than that, I love sharing in the JOY of WeJoySing with my son.  And I love doing it HIS WAY.    

Joyfully to YOU our WeJoySing Family!
Mrs. Megan