Have you ever heard anyone refer to Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® as a “Mommy-and-Me Music class?” Well, we prefer “Parent-Child Music Class,” and by the end of our interview with this Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® dad, you’ll understand why you should count dads in!
Music & Spanish were the Perfect Mix
Lee came to Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® because he wanted to share a love of music with his daughter.
And he also wanted to give her a head start on learning a new language, something he, like many of us, wished he’d had growing up. Since we offer both Spanish and music, it was meant to be. In Summer 2021, he began attending Saturday mornings with his daughter, Ari, when she was just a baby.
But that was a lifetime ago in baby time. Ari is now a 20-month-old toddler and she’s a different little person with her own personality.
Lee noticed right away that, this session, something was different:
“I realised that Ari was more hesitant as a toddler in this second session early on because she would cling harder to me as we approached the classroom.”
Even though they had downloaded the Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® app and listened to the songs in Spanish regularly at home, it was clear she was going to need help with the transition.
Poquito a Poquito: Patience Pays Off
And Lee's approach is one reason we admire him so much. If you have a timid toddler on your hands, take notes:
In response, I would back up and give her extra time to observe and sing by ourselves outside the classroom before going in. Over time, she was showing far fewer signs of hesitation to enter the room and the transition to class became easier for her.
I also found that keeping a routine helped a lot. Every class on the drive over I would verbally prepare her. We would listen to the app, and talk about the class and her teacher, Laura. Now, though still cautious in class, she is excited about going and likes to sing parts of songs and repeat some movements on the way home.
Children who are new to Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® react in a variety of ways. Some are all about it and ready to move around the space, some are curious but stick close to their parent, others are overwhelmed and need to take breaks. But they all will eventually integrate in a way that is comfortable for them when given the chance.
Lee knew that innately, and clearly also knows his daughter very well.
Learning Spanish Together
It’s a good thing they stuck it out because they have both seen the fruits of their labor.
Before attending Mi Casa, I knew some basic numbers and phrases in Spanish... I feel it is important for Ari to learn Spanish specifically as it is such an integral part of the local community and culture here in Austin. Thanks to Mi Casa, I know a lot more Spanish - though I’m still learning. I feel that music and movement have helped myself and Ari learn lots of new Spanish words much more easily. Ari can now identify many body parts, animals, and a few phrases in Spanish.
Finding Quality Time Together
Lee will be the first to tell you that even though he came for the music development and the Spanish exposure, it’s the opportunity to spend quality time and bond with Ari that he enjoys most. When asked, he said his favorite part of class was the lullaby song:
“When lights go out, Ari often chooses to climb on my body chest-to-chest. It’s a sweet and peaceful moment together.”
After asking Lee what advice he had for other dads considering attending a music class with their child, I began wishing he were fluent in Spanish so we could just hire him. He gets it! Here it is, dads, moms, grandparents, caretakers… here's some sage advice from a Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® dad who knows.
Early on, I wasn’t totally sure how to tell if Ari was fully engaged in class. After a few sessions though, she started asking for specific songs when we opened the songbook at home...
My advice is to remember that your child is absorbing so much even if they are just watching quietly. Keep offering them opportunities and follow their lead as to how they prefer to approach new experiences.
We closed the interview out by having Lee imagine what an ideal Father’s Day would be like. So, to his partner, Erin, we hope you are reading, because here it is!
My ideal Father’s Day is a mix of playful family time and then relaxation time, usually take-out with a movie or a game.
Gracias to Lee & Ari for sharing time with us in music class, and also for sharing your story here and reminding us all of the power of the fathers and father figures in our lives.
Happy Father's Day from Mi Casa Es Tu Casa®.