Are you a parent, grandparent or carer in need of support and encouragement? Then you should check out Mainly Music! They give young children and their carers a time and place to enjoy music and play together, be accepted for who they are, and learn new things.
Jo Hood is CEO of Mainly Music, and she recently joined Brett Ryan from Focus on the Family to talk about the program. She says with guidance from volunteers and local churches, families are given the chance to think about the God-part of life in a loving, sharing environment that welcomes everyone.
Jo got the idea for Mainly Music in Auckland New Zealand 32 years ago, when she and a friend took their baby daughters along to a gathering at a local community centre. Jo has always had a passion for music herself, and wanted to incorporate that into a collaborative program for kids.
Music and Families
‘Two things collide in Mainly Music,’ Jo says. ‘Music and families. So my friend and I started it at our local church. I’m a great fan of having things for children to do, because I think people feel like children get naughty when they’re really just bored.’
Providing a combination of music and hospitality for both children and adults creates a place of community. Jo believes that people need that even more so today. It takes them away from the isolation many new parents feel. The program is about so much more than music.
“It’s about the food, the fun and the conversation,’ says Jo. ‘Mothers and grandparents and fathers will tell you they love the cake! But when we sing, we also pull out scarves and get out percussion instruments or have puppets. There are all sorts of things happening in that time.’
Jo says there are two main reasons for doing Mainly Music. ‘It is motivated out of my faith. I am a follower of Jesus, and I believe that Jesus wants to see family’s flourish. When people are isolated and can’t connect with others, that’s when parenting life becomes very difficult.’
The other aspect is the level of education that is happening throughout the program. It includes literacy, numeracy, colours, shapes, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and understanding personal space. It’s quite holistic, and children need all these skills to start school and flourish.
Upon arrival to a Mainly Music session, parents are brought into the room and introduced to others. Then the music session starts, which is approximately 30 minutes of fun and interaction. Mainly Music is not about children doing music by themselves. Parents and carers must participate.
‘The relationship with the child is vitally important,’ says Jo. ‘But also that interaction with other like-minded people going through the same stages. The person who’s leading the group is there to help you and your preschooler enjoy and interact. Then you sing a little song that acknowledges your gratefulness for the food that’s about to come out.’
Feeding the kids comes first, and then toys are brought out. After that, they are supervised while hot drinks and adult food is provided. ‘You’ve just spent half an hour on the floor, face to face,’ says Jo. ‘Children’s emotional tanks are overflowing, so they’re quite prepared to go off and play with the toys. It’s also good for children to separate from the adults.’
Doing Life Together
Mainly Music runs weekly during school terms, and the program sticks to the same format, wherever it runs. ‘It brings a normality to the parenting experience,’ says Jo. ‘We have a thing in a mini music session called Time to Talk, where we just stop and think about parenting and faith. It’s just three minutes, but people have talked about how important that has been.’
Because Mainly Music happens in partnership with the local church, they have the ability to provide things like food parcels, meals and prayer support. ‘Again, it’s that holistic approach,’ says Jo. ‘It’s about doing life together.’
Listen to Jo’s full interview on Focus on the Family below, and browse our collection of great music for kids at the Vision Store.