“My child loves it, but just won’t join in when we’re here.”

Just listening works too!Tom sat silently through many sessions, curled in his grandma’s arms, eyes never moving from my guitar. The other children bounced around him, offering their hands for Ring a Ring of Roses and flinging their bodies down on the floor when it was time for ‘all the little bunnies to go to sleep’. He shrank back, and just watched, silently, resisting any attempt to get him to join in. In all honesty, I wasn’t entirely sure he was enjoying it. He didn’t cry, or cover his ears, but there were no smiles.

Despite this, his grandparents assured me that he loved it, and that Rhymetime was all he talked about at home. Sure enough, one day, several months after he first began to come to Rhymetime, he started to sing. And do the actions. And sit by me and practically co-lead the session! He got a ukelele, and became my sidekick for a couple of years, mirroring my every move and mimicking even the way I tapped the guitar and the strumming patterns. Now, with hindsight, I think he was just concentrating really hard in those first months. He was taking it all in, learning and absorbing it.

This was a couple of years ago and Tom is now at school (I haven’t used his real name). He’s not the only one, and I could have told this story about several other children. So please don’t worry if your child says they enjoy Rhymetime but keeps themselves to themselves during the sessions. Of course, if they don’t want to come then a trip to the park would be better, but otherwise, let them sit. Let them listen. Let them take at their own pace. Trust the process.

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