Today in class, I noticed a lot of foot-watching going on. At one point, a crawling baby stopped and stared at our grown-up feet as we marched to the “top of the hill” and back down again. Another time, a toddler alternated between moving her feet and stopping to scrutinize ours. She even bent down in the middle of the song and peered intently, trying to get a close-up view of our steps.
Adults tend not to spend time foot-gazing. At lunch, for example, I opt to talk and laugh above the table top, instead of bending down under to stare at my friend’s feet. Along those same lines, the grown-ups in music class tend to engage with each other eye-to-eye, not eye-to-foot. So, we forget that children watch everything: faces, hair, arms, hands, shoulders, hips, legs, and — yes — feet. When we’re standing up, our legs and feet might receive more of the children’s visual attention than our other body parts. In those moments, what we do with our feet becomes more important to the children, and that gives us a golden opportunity to turn our toes into teaching tools.
While moving around the room — either in class or at home — take advantage of your child’s foot-focus and exaggerate your walking, marching, stomping, waltzing, and tippy-toe-ing. Your strong, purposeful movements will give your child a clear model for how to move to the beat, with her feet. It may be a long time before she is able to accurately imitate your movements, but every time she sees your beats in your feet, she is learning volumes about beat and movement and music.