Those Old-Fashioned Christmas Programs

We live in a little piece of Americana. A place with a population of three hundred people. The kids in our little hamlet are fed into the “big” town of Valley Springs to go to school, a place with a population of seven thousand.

It’s a place where the schools still have old-fashioned Christmas programs. (gasp)

That’s right. I went to see my grandchildren’s program, and it was pure Christmas. They were dressed in red and wore reindeer antlers. They sang Christmas song after Christmas song after Christmas song. But that’s not my point.

Programs can offer so much when it comes to learning. They are a lot of work but make kids happy and proud.

I watched with pride as these kids clapped and hopped, twirled and stomped. The music teacher (the same one who taught my children music) played the guitar and engaged them like only he can. They sang from their little hearts.

How sad it is that we’ve gotten rid of music and plays and programs in the schools of our country. As the schools get worse and worse, we still throw money on the problem, and the kids get less and less. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.

But here, in this little spot in California, the kids put on a performance not too different than those I did back in the 1960’s. Back then, learning disabilities were virtually unheard of. Not today. Not when we’ve taken away sandbox kindergartens and don’t let our children put on musical performances where they hone their visual and auditory memory skills. Where brain development occurs naturally. Where kids can learn and smile and sing and have fun.

Those in charge can’t seem to see the connection between memorizing lines and practicing with music and how it can directly affect reading performance. It’s all about money, about cutting the “fluff”. Like sports and music and art. The things that have helped make our country fantastic.

I firmly believe and know that children move through certain developmental stages as they grow and learn. And I know that music, movement, memorizing lines, and all other things that go into putting on a performance only help a child learn.

As I watched closer (all the parents were busy filming with their smartphones), I saw the up and down brain development the kids were engaging in. They also twirled, which is good for the side-to-side development of their brains. They clapped and stomped to music, singing along with the guitar. We all know how closely tied music is to learning and memory.

They’d memorized their lines and their movements perfectly. When they were finished, they came down to tables and strung necklaces, which was great for they fine motor skills. Even better, they were all so happy and proud of themselves!

This holiday season, I hope they can keep doing these programs at these small town schools, whether they’re Christmas related or not. I hope other schools wake up and see the importance of music, plays, sports and art. I hope that things can change for the better, not for the worse.

We’ve been experiencing too much of the worse.

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