Homeschooling with Preschool Prodigies and the Prodigies Playground
We get a lot of questions here at Preschool Prodigies about using our program in a home school setting, so if you’ve ever wondered about using Preschool Prodigies or Primary Prodigies in your home school, then hopefully this short guide/FAQ will help you out!
What is Preschool Prodigies and the Prodigies Playground?
Preschool Prodigies is our flagship program that lives inside The Prodigies Playground.
It is a video curriculum that will have your kids singing, hand signing and playing their way to a music education in no time.
The video music lessons inside the Playground feature Mr. Rob and a colorful cast of musical characters that focuses meaningful exposure to pitch, on singing in tune, and on learning your first musical instrument. The program is revolutionizing how children learn music, especially during early childhood, and it’s perfect as a homeschool music curriculum.
The instrument we start with is a colorful set of Deskbells that are durable and super easy to play. The durable and in-tune nature of the bells makes them a great starting instrument. Plus, the colors of the bells make everything a lot more self-correcting and the individual nature of the bells allows you focus on just the notes you’ll need for a given song.
The video lessons walk children through playing simple songs about colors, numbers and letters, as well as early childhood classics and Prodigies originals. Each song (or section) also comes with printable sheet music and 3-4 follow up activities to complete in your Playground Workbook.
All in all, the Prodigies Playground is fun, colorful and powerful music education solution, and you can learn more about the curriculum here.
From Our Family to Yours
As a family considering using the program, it’s nice to know that the Prodigies playground is produced and operated by a small family company. Host and principal creator Rob Young, and his long-time buddy Jeff Sedwick, started making green screen videos back in high school, and many years later, they reunited to combine their video production skills with Robs experience as a music teacher to pilot the first ever Prodigies lesson, Sweet Beets.
Sam, Rob’s soon-to-be wife, quickly joined up and brought her skills as a teacher, administrator and curriculum developer to the team. The trio created the Prodigies Playground together and launched a fun little YouTube project into a full-fledged business.
Three years later, the team hasn’t changed much. Their good friend Aaron joined up to help with writing songs and arranging colorful sheet music, and they still all work together as a family business on everything from the website, to the videos, to social media and beyond.
This means that the team is nimble, constantly innovating and also very receptive to customer feedback. Plus, when you email or phone our office, chances are that you’ll be talking to an owner of the company, which is pretty cool.
Plus, as small business owners, we are on a constant mission to improve, impress and satisfy families and teachers looking for quality and modern music curriculum.
With that in mind, the Prodigies Playground comes from our family to yours, and we whole-heartedly believe that your kids will love the program!
What age(s) are appropriate for the Prodigies Playground?
The most common question we get from homeschooling families goes something like…
“Hi! I have a 2 year old and a 6 year old. Can I use the program for both children?”
For starters, yes! You can, absolutely use our program with multiple children. Getting multiple children working together on the program has a lot of benefits, such as positive social pressure, being able to play songs as duets, and of course just having a friend or a sibling to share the experience with just makes it more fun.
As far as the actual levels and age range is concerned, we recommended Preschool Prodigies for children ages 3-5. That said, it can easily be enjoyed by kids as young as one year old and as old as 7 or 8 depending on your learners prior musical experience.
Here’s a quick testimonial that speaks to just that:
As far as the actual age range for the program, let’s imagine two hypothetical siblings age 2 and age 6. Both of these kids fall outside the ‘recommended’ age range for our program, but looking at the sort of upper and lower limit of Preschool Prodigies will help make it clear just how versatile and accessible the program.
At 2 years old, a child will sing, tap, clap and hand-sign along with Mr. Rob. Children at this age are super receptive to meaningful exposure to pitch and getting started at this age means your child will be singing in tune and identifying musical notes after a year or two of practice (if not much sooner). A 2 year old will be able to play the bells for a lot of the program, but generally at this age, you’ll find the most success with songs that have 3 bells or less.
Speaking of 2 year olds, we’re have plans to begin animating a mini-series called Playtime Prodigies, which will feature super simple lessons designed more specifically for kids 1-2. This is planned for a tentative release in late 2017 and into 2018.
Now at 6 years old, children will have no problem playing the bells with all of the songs in Preschool Prodigies. However, at this age, the window for developing perfect pitch via meaningful exposure to individual notes is starting to close. It’s not too late to begin learning pitch of course, but if you start at this age, you’ll want to get as much practice as you can with the bells and with pitch over your first year or two to really maximize on the unique period of auditory development that happens in early childhood.
On the plus side, children at age 6 have the fine motor control to be playing the piano, the bells, or the xylophone, all of which can be used to complete the program.
At age six, some of the worksheets are likely to be a little too easy for kids (like hand writing and letter recognition activities), but there are still plenty of patterning, sequencing and music theory activities that six year olds will enjoy.
We have also begun releasing more advanced lessons for children 6-10 inside of Primary Prodigies, which is included in Prodigies Lifetime. You learn more about Primary Prodigies at www.PrimaryProdigies.com.
How Many Instruments Should I Get?
As a general rule of thumb, each child really needs there own set of bells (or a piano or a xylophone) to really take advantage of the program. Having your own instrument means that no matter song you’re playing in the program, you have the tools to participate 100% of the time.
You can of course split up the bells amongst two kids (or even three kids), and there are a select few lessons where we recommend this (like a duet). However, you need to be careful not to introduce notes that aren’t featured in a given section, simply because you wanted more bells for your kids to play with.
So for instance, playing the very first, “Hello C” only requires on bell, the C bell. We’ve seen parent submitted footage however of giving other kids in the group different colored bells so they could play along, but that’s ignoring the pitch of the instrument and ultimately undoing the memorization of pitch that we’re trying to achieve we’re trying to achieve.
A lot of homeschooling families get an assortment of instrument for their different age kids. For instance, having a two year old on the bells and a six year old on the piano, and possibly switching instruments every now and then for a slightly different experience.
It’s also worth noting that the program features easy-to-learn hand-signs, which can be used (at least partially) in place of an instrument.
Last but not least, we sell three different sets of bells, but until your well on your way through Primary Prodigies, all you will need is the Prodigies C Major Set. The Chromatic Expansion will be introduced in Chapter 5 of Primary Prodigies and the Bass/Treble Extension will be featured a chapter later.
Should I purchase the books or print them myself?
This one is kind of up to you and depends on your color-printing situation. If you have a good color printer, maybe wait to order the books until you know you love all the activities (which you can see in the PDFs from the Playground).
Which Plan Should I purchase?
For homeschoolers, we almost always recommend Prodigies Lifetime. This means that you’ll
- Never have to worry about subscription fees
- Be able To download all of the videos, workbooks and materials for offline access and continued use
- Have access to all the material we release in Primary, Playtime, Piano and Recorder Prodigies
Are there any spiritual songs or worship songs in the Prodigies Playground?
Right now, only Chapter 6 (which features a lot of holiday music) touches on any worship music but we have plans to add several worship songs to compliment the program such as Jesus Loves Me, This Little Light of Mine, God is So Good, Kumbaya, He’s Got the Whole World!
We don’t have an exact date for these releases yet, but we are striving to have several of them out during the summer of 2017.
Are the videos available on DVD?
Yes – you can find program DVDs here:
What Kind of Parent Guidance Comes with the Program?
No matter which level you decide to invest in, every core lesson of our program comes with one page of parent guidance for making the most out of each lesson.
With Prodigies Pro or Prodigies Lifetime, you also get Lessons Plans to accompany the core material (for running group classes around the lessons) and you even get a handful of training videos that explain the philosophy, methods and some more advanced tips and tricks for making the most out of the program.
Pacing the Program and the Benefits of Repetition
The pacing of our program varies greatly from child to child, but generally we recommend focusing on one to two videos per week, and repeating those lessons throughout the week. This adds up to about 1 Chapter per month for a total of 8+ months, which also works well over the course of one full school year.
This repetition, either at home, school or at homeschool, does several things.
For one, children enjoy repetition because it makes them feel confident and in-the-know, in a world where many things are still new and unknown.
The repetition also gives your child a chance to master the concepts in the video. For instance, the first time they watch the video, especially if they’re 1-3 years old, there’s a good chance they’ll be too mesmerized to actually follow along. Then, the second time through, they’ll probably feel ready to participate actively.
It’s important to understand that the videos are designed to give children consistent, repetitive and meaningful exposure to individual notes. Through this kind of exposure to musical notes, children can develop the amazing musical skill of perfect pitch.
It’s also super important to realize that this is not a video show for kids that you watch once and move on from. Most kids 3-5 are not going to master the concepts in one go round, and you really want to take advantage of your child’s critical window for auditory development and give them as much consistent and meaningful play with pitch as possible.
Our suggested pacing is partially based on the research from the Taneda method for absolute pitch, which discovered that it takes about 3 months for children to internalize the sound of a musical chord. With that in mind, Preschool Prodigies (Level 1 of the Prodigies Playground) introduces three chords, and should be completed in about 9 months (at top speed). The program introduces 3 major chords, and gives children ample time to hear, sing and play those chords before ever truly assessing if they have the sound of the chord memorized.
Of course, older children or children who really love the program may complete it much faster. That’s okay, IF your child is completing the “What Note Is It?” and “Chord Listening” segments and getting most of the assessments correct.
You can also revisit the same lessons on a new instrument (bells, xylophone or piano) which will provide a more holistic and well rounded music education while also building up your child’s motor skills and technical abilities on different types of instruments.
What is your return policy?
We have a 60-day full refund policy, which means you can try the Prodigies Playground with your kids risk free.
The only caveat is that if you purchase prodigies lifetime AND download more than one chapter from the download hall, you will forfeit your right to a refund. With that in mind, we recommend streaming the videos or downloading just the first chapter until you are sure the program is what you’re looking for.
Again, we are a small family business, so we’re very receptive and accommodating to our customers and we only introduce this small caveat of our return policy as a means of protecting ourselves against people who join, download the whole program, ask a bunch of specific lesson based questions, and then return the product in the last day or two of the return window.