Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Ready To Learn is a musical CD of Songs for School Success. This is the latest compilation of fifteen multisensory tunes by Cathy Bollinger to get kids on the road to learning. These are geared on helping children on the autism spectrum transition into activities at the school level and can be utilized in the home, community and therapy environments.
Cathy Bollinger is a singer-songwriter, as well as a Music Therapist. "Established in 1988, Rivanna Music creates tunes that teach". Cathy wrote the songs in Ready To Learn for everyday use that reinforces the skills taught in school. "Ready to Learn! Songs for School Success has been designated a 2007 Parents' Choice Award Winner."
The vocals are comprised of children and adults with instruments consisting of - guitar, bass, piano, trumpet, trambone, clarinet, recorder, tenor sax and baritone sax, drums, harmonica, fiddle, banjo, ukulele, jaws harp and percussion.
The songs covered in this CD are:
My Eyes Are Looking Forward - this song instills that you need to look forward, keep your hands in your lap and your mouth closed while putting on your thinking cap. It sure is a lot for any child to comply with and not something I strive for my children to do. "Look at me with your eyes". Personally I think the eye contact issue for children on the spectrum is pushed onto children when it is not necessary. This song is not as subtle as the one entitled, "Remember Look Towards Their Eyes" in the CD My Turn, Your Turn.
Get Ready and Follow Directions - this song lets kids know it is okay to ask a question if you do not get the direction. The way they explain this is not conducive for all kids.
" First I listen to the directions
Then I whisper them to myself"
And later on in the song I find it confusing when it is mentioned again, but with another option. "Did you whisper what was said or say it in your head this time?"
I would assume parents and professionals would utilize these lines to explain further the two choices and when it would not be appropriate in a school setting to whisper what they said back to yourself. Some people might think the child was exhibiting echolalia.
A Friendy Voice - the emphasis here is putting a smile in your voice and you will get more smiles back.
I've Got a Question - examples are explored for when a student might have a question and how they should handle this - by raising their hand. This could be during circle time or during independent work time.
Good Choice or Bad Choice - here kids are given the option to stop and think when they have a problem.
Accept the Consequence - this song associates making a bad choice with getting in trouble and being sad when not making a good choice. There are no examples of what the consequences are. Children are reinforced with taking a deep breath and counting to five, but is this when they make a bad choice or when they accept the consequence? This song does not work for me.
It's Time to be Brave - this is a real fast song with some questionable words - "I'm scared stiff, this feels bad, What if the teacher's mad". I do not like the association of scared and teacher being mad in the same sentence as it is indicating that kids should be scared of their teachers and that they get mad often.
Hocus Pocus Focus
A Pocket Full of Kindness
Wiggle and Freeze
Two Words Please - this song indicates that using words like yes, no or so are not very kind and sound hard, so you should use words like, " Yes I would" or "no not just yet"
It's Time To Do Something New
Line Up - at first I thought this would be a song about kids lining up items but it is about forming a line and the line leader. Why do kids need to spend a considerable amount of time during their school day in lines? This has nothing to do with preparing for the real world, unless you count waiting in line at the bank or post office.
The Goodbye Song
I personally prefer the CD Tunes that Teach - The Fun Way to Learn Everyday Lessons, that is geared for ages 2-7. It is very lively singing about phone numbers, manners and caring for the earth. Some of the tunes include - Let's Make A Rhyme, Four Seasons, Opposites, Mother Nature's Sounds and A Week Has Seven Days.
The CDs cost $15.95 at their website, www.rivannamusic.com - which does take paypal. The lyrics are included in each CD. It is suggested to purchase The CD, Ready to Learn: Songs for School Success as a teacher gift. This can also be utilized by music therapists and those that have social skills classes. Summer camp would be a good time for exploring the CDs and covering the lyrics with children in depth and using examples in a relaxing setting.