Listening Skills: Practice Makes Perfect!

Developing listening skills is definitely one of the most important skills you can teach your child. You want your child to listen to you, to other adults, to teachers, be able to follow directions and develop healthy social skills and all that begins with active listening – which is much different than hearing. We can hear things but not actually listen to them – sounds are around us all the time but it’s easy to tune them out.

Teaching your child to engage in active listening is an important step in the process to listening skills and we do this all the time in our Kindermusik classes. Active listening is more than just listening, we listen, discuss, imitate, repeat… the parents are just as important in this process too because as you as parents model listening behaviour you are also teaching you child to do so too. I love this video from our Wiggle & Grow toddler class that really illustrates all of these points. You will see me showing the children a picture of a squirrel, discussing what squirrels do and acting it out, listening to squirrel sounds and imitating it. The parents in this class deserve ample credit too because they are all excellent models of being active listeners and are fabulous at engaging with their children and being the supportive, nurturing parents and teachers that they are!

 

Terrible Two’s – How to make them EASIER!

Everybody dreads the “terrible two’s”. But have you ever sat back and thought about why this stage in your toddler’s life is so difficult? Did you know that this developmental stage is synonymous with being a teenager? And do you know how to make this stage easier on yourself and your child?

Toddlerhood is a constant struggle for your child between dependance and independence – hmm that sounds an awful lot like being a teenager. Your little one wants to be able to do things on his own but still relies on mom and dad for so many things, much like a teen. Providing more opportunities for your child to feel in control and make choices can aide your little one in feeling that sense of independence that he wants so badly, especially when there is opportunity for choice. Here are some examples:

  • Before heading outside: “Would you like to wear the green hat or the red hat?”
  • Bedtime routine: “Do you want to brush your teeth first or take your bath first?”
  • When crossing the street: “Would you like to hold my hand or for me to hold your hand?”

That last one is my personal favourite, LOL! But you can see that sometimes rephrasing what you want your toddler to do can really help him cooperate! Certainly there are times when no choice is possible and in those instances, it’s best to take a direct approach as opposed to asking a question. For example, instead of saying “Would you like to have lunch now?” you might say, “It’s time to have lunch now”. Asking a question leaves room for that looming answer, a hefty “NO”!

Toddlerhood is also an extremely emotional time. Does that remind you of what it’s like to be a teenager too? While teens struggle with new emotions, feelings, self esteem, self worth and hormones, toddlers are also struggling with new emotions and feelings, becoming self-aware and have the added disadvantage of not having the language to communicate with you. That sounds like a clear recipe for frustration, and potential disaster, if you have no clue how to handle it! However, providing your toddler with tools to communicate effectively with you as well as a better understanding of emotions can make both of your lives easier.

Sign language is an EXCELLENT tool for communication. Especially if you start signing with you little one around 6 months and continue to provide useful signs along the way at key times and when your baby/child is engaged. I can assure you that you are not replacing the spoken word by using ASL with baby or toddler – in fact you are doing the opposite. Most babies who sign speak sooner than babies who do not sign because they have a deeper understanding of language. Not only that but now you have provided a way for baby to communicate with you before he has the ability to put all the words together (for more info on the benefits of signing, check out this previous blog post). By adding signs for EMOTIONS into your signing repertoire, now you have the tools in place for your toddler to understand feelings and have the ability to describe to you how he is feeling – alleviating frustration. Wow, that’s pretty powerful!

Join us at Sing Music Studio as we delve into emotion signs in our next Sing Signing Series class: Emotions! This is a drop-in class, with no pre-requisite to have attended one of our previous ASL classes. Plus, you will receive a useful pdf of all the signs explored in class for at-home use. Just email me, Miss Mandi, to register: mandi@singmusicstudio.com.

Sign Language Benefits for Babies and Toddlers

Did you know that signing with baby/toddler has NUMEROUS benefits? That’s why we provide monthly drop-in signing classes at Sing Music Studio with useful ASL signs for interaction with baby/toddler. In class, you will learn how to sign realistically with baby/toddler, how to recognize signs and much more about signing with your little one.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the benefits reaped from signing:

  • Brain development – spoken language is mainly processed with the left side of the brain, by adding movement to language by signing, we also engage the right side of the brain creating a stronger connection between the hemispheres
  • Stronger understanding of language – think about how much easier it is for you to remember a song by adding actions to it – this works the same way with signing, heightening understanding of words
  • Spoken language begins sooner than babies who do not sign – research has shown that babies who sign often do speak sooner because of this deeper understanding of language
  • Increased fine motor skills – the main goal in life for babies and toddlers is mastering gross motor skills such as crawling, walking and running, however, fine motor skills are just as important. Learning to hold a spoon, turn a handle, press a button, hold a pencil, all take mastery of fine motor skills which we are constantly improving as we sign.
  • Increases communication and alleviates frustration – much of the frustration that toddlers face is due to the inability to communicate wants, needs and emotions because speech is still developing. Providing your little one with signs helps them communicate these needs with you and helping you deal with the “terrible two’s”.

Coming up this Friday – the next class in our Sing Signing Series: Park Play! In this class you will learn signs that are useful when you are out and about in the park and on the playground. Next month will feature our Emotions class! All classes are pre-registered drop-in classes with a maximum of 10 children and there are no pre-requisites to attend any class! Just contact us to sign-up!

Paper Bag Peekaboo!

Even the simplest of household items can become a learning tool full of discovery for baby! Watch as these babies enjoy exploration time with paper bags. A simple item becomes a wonderful multi-sensory experience in cause and effect – what happens when I crinkle it, rip it, squish it, shake it, wear it, taste it, wave it, pat it, blow in it… so many ideas! Add a little musical tune and it’s oodles of fun and learning too! Try a little exploration time at home with household items such as hair curlers, pots, pans, socks, paper plates, tupperware… what else can you think of?

 

Vocal Play with the Babies

Vocal play is such an important activity to engage in with your little one. Babies are fascinated by faces, so get in close so your baby can see your facial expressions up close. She’ll study your tongue and lip movements, learning as she goes. It’s also important to give baby ample time to mimic or respond with a sound. While we are playing with animal sounds your baby may not “moo” in return, but may make another sound in response. Then you should copy baby’s sound, encouraging her to make more. Not only are you helping baby explore her voice, vocal expression, syllables, lip, tongue and cheek muscles, but you are also practicing the art of conversation! In this video from our Kindermusik baby class, you’ll see all of this taking place. You will also notice some ASL signs being used as we always sprinkle a few signs from our Sing Signing Series into our classes. Each baby is engaging and participating in his or her own way, taking into account all different ages and stages.

 

Bouncing Babies!

Bouncing is such a delightful activity for babies! But did you know about the benefits of bouncing? When we bounce baby, we are stimulating baby’s vestibular system. This is a fancy way of saying we are working on balance and coordination. As you bounce baby on your lap, baby has to adjust his posture in order to stay up right. Baby is also feeling the steady beat as you bounce, bounce, bounce to a rhyme or tune developing beat awareness and coordination. As we bounce from left to right, we are also developing lateralization – feeling the difference between left and right. And in this particular bouncing exercise in the video, we also play with tempo and up and down – helping baby learn the concepts of fast, slow, high and low through the senses, hearing the words, feeling the differences in movement and watching the other moms and babies.

Who knew that a singing, bouncing activity could be so beneficial… well certainly Miss Mandi and our Kindermusik families do… now you do too!

 

Melodic Dictation – Oh So Many Benefits!!!!

Our Tuesday evening Kindermusik for the Young Child Semester 2 class is full of super high energy kids! The parents will certainly attest to that when they join us for sharing time because they are completely different children when moms, dads and siblings are around. But you can hardly blame them, they LOVE their Kindermusik class and they LOVE having the parents join us to share! They can hardly contain their excitement! And sometimes, that excitement is difficult to contain in class without the parents too – but they are actually really good listeners. And some moments are incredible and magical…. like the one in this video….

 

Sharing and Turn Taking with Toddlers

Every one of our Kindermusik Wiggle & Grow classes for toddlers has a lesson focus. In this video, you’ll see our lesson focus is up and down. Children can grasp the concept of up more easily when we also use the opposite concept of down and they make an even stronger connection with these concepts when we use multi-sensory experiences. You’ll see that the children are hearing the sound of the slide whistle move up and down, moving the slide up and down, creating vocal glissandos up and down and moving their bodies up and down, creating a rich multi-sensory learning environment.

But, as you watch the video, you may notice many other important life and learning skills developing too. We are also practicing taking turns, sharing, learning patience and teamwork while at the same time supporting different learning styles. We do live in an age of instant gratification with the speed of technology, but not everything is instantaneous. Honing a skill such as playing and instrument, excelling at sports, dance, trades, business… whatever it is takes time, practice, perseverance and PATIENCE. So it is important to teach our little ones from a very young age about these skills. Watch and enjoy!

 

Uuup and Dooown…

Children learn through movement – and that’s a fact. Children also learn through multi-sensory experiences. So any time we couple these together in a Kindermusik activity (which is most of the time), we are solidifying new brain waves and locking in the learning.

You’ll see in this video from our Wiggle & Grow for Families class that the children (and adults) are moving up and down, making glissandos with their voices up and down, listening to sliding up and down with voices and the recording and seeing others move up and down. Talk about locking in the learning! Not only are the exploring up and down, they are also exploring their vocal range, creating more expressive speaking and singing voices, practicing listening skills, working on gross and fine motor skills as they work with scarves, working on spatial recognition – moving through a room full of people without crashing and learning about new musical timbres! There is plenty of learning that takes place during just one Kindermusik activity – plus it’s loads of fun!

 

Ensemble Play – Now that’s Beneficial!

These students are in their 2nd year of music class together and are really getting the hang of ensemble playing! This is an excellent skill and there are so many facets involved here. The most obvious skill being teamwork – and what an important skill that is! So much of our lives are about working together – from school projects to sports to plays to ballet to board meetings and work relations. But when we make music together as a group, not only are we working together but now we are also using our listening skills for our cue on when to come in, to what the other musicians are playing, we are singing at the same time and if not singing we hear the music in our head and we are using both our fine motor and gross motor skills while engaging our cognitive skills – using memory, patterns and sequences. Now that is A LOT going on in those little children’s brains all at once! Take another look, it’s pretty impressive.