Learning through Music: Silliness

With Kindermusik classes in over 70 countries, we know a thing or two about families and children around the world. We know, for instance, that every child speaks music and laughter sounds the same in any language. And, to a child, funny things can be found anywhere—mouth noises, made-up words, knock-knock jokes, chasing the dog, and even—sometimes—mommy’s “angry face.” (You know it’s true.)

On average, children laugh about 200 times every day. Silliness is a great way to evoke laughter and foster the development of humor. So, we include a lot of it in class each week, including singing songs with silly words (guli, guli, guli), playing one-bell jingles with our feet or on our head, and even a surprise tickle during “Itsy Bitsy Mouseykins.” All that laughing encourages your child’s physical, emotional, and social health. Plus, it’s a lot of fun and can be a developmentally appropriate way to motivate, engage, and redirect your child during these years.

Everyday Connection: Bathtub Shenanigans. Turn your child’s bath time into a silly time. As you bathe your child, let your little one know what you will be washing next. “I am washing your foot next” (as you reach for an arm) or “I need to wash behind your ears” (while you wash your child’s belly button instead!). Your child will love laughing at your silly “mistakes” and get super clean in the process.

Learning through Music: Steady Beat

Admit it.  You know you do it. You just can’t stop yourself. There you are driving to work, shopping at the grocery store, or maybe waiting at the doctor’s office and you find yourself doing it. Unconsciously, you tap your foot, nod your head, or drum the steering wheel along to the beat of the music you hear. Thanks to the steady beat of your heart, your body is naturally wired for responding to a steady beat. However, the ability to consciously recognize and demonstrate steady beat takes practice.

In Kindermusik, we know that the capacity to identify steady beat can be used for more than singing or playing an instrument. Your child will use steady beat in writing, dribbling, using scissors, dancing, shooting a basketball, and any other number of movement activities. Throughout the Kindermusik experience, we develop beat by rocking, bouncing on a lap, playing an instrument to one’s own internal beat, matching one’s beat to an external source—first whole-body movement, then body percussion (“Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands” anyone?), and then instruments.

Everyday Connection: Steady Beat Treasure Hunt. Go around your house inside and outside. Search for things that make a steady beat. The clock? Dripping water? Microwave timer?  Crickets? How many can you and your child find?

Learning Through Music: Musical Notation

Pop stars may sing about the power of love, but in Kindermusik circles we sing about the power of music. Humming a favorite tune can lull a little one to sleep or make a sick child feel better. Listening to songs from our own childhood exercises our memories by reviving sights and sounds long since forgotten. And how many of us learned the alphabet through song or about the rhythm of language through nursery rhymes?

Each week in class we tap into the power of music to enhance your child’s creativity, social-emotional skills, and even boost your child’s reading and math abilities. For example, learning to read musical notation uses a similar set of cognitive skills and pattern recognition also found in reading. So, when your child sings high or low on “Star Light, Star Bright” based on whether a star is above or below the line or when your child imitates a door bell ringing by playing a C-A pattern on an instrument, your child is learning the symbolic representation for sounds already familiar to your child from previous listening and singing activities. Learning musical notation in this way mirrors how listening to and imitating spoken language evolves into reading. Now, that is powerful stuff!

Everyday Connection: A line in the sand (or floor!). Using a piece of string or yarn, make a line on the floor. Place objects above and below the line and practice singing high or low depending on whether the object is above or below the line.

Learning through Music: Sorting & Categorizing Sound

Parents provide children not-so-subtle verbal clues when they are in BIG trouble. The use of a child’s full name is a pretty basic one. (John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt!) The dreaded “Mommy or Daddy voice” gives a child another indication of a possible timeout in the immediate future. Hearing a parent speak in a staccato style supplies a child still another hint. (Do. Not. Do. That. A.Gain.) At three or four years old, your child can probably quickly sort through your sound clues and put them in the “I’m in big trouble” category.

That’s actually a good thing. Sorting and categorizing sounds strengthens your child’s listening acuity or your child’s ability to hear and understand clearly. In Kindermusik, we use music and movement to give your child many opportunities to practice sorting and categorizing sounds. So, when we explore the different sounds of drums and label them loud or soft or use them to imitate weather sounds in “Jingle Bell Symphony,” or even when we move fast or slow with the scarves on “Leaves in the Wind,” your child is practicing sorting and categorizing sounds. All this practice ultimately leads to better phonemic awareness, communication skills, and even boosts reading abilities.

Everyday Connection: Is that a bird or a plane? Take turns listening to the sounds outside your own windows. Then determine if the sound is loud or soft or an animal…or not. You can practice sorting and categorizing sounds almost anywhere!

Learning through Music: Security and Independence

From time to time as parents, we may find ourselves asking: Where has my sweet little baby gone? This question generally occurs during periods of intense growth and development, such as teething, moving to a “big kid” bed, and well, maybe right about now. Between 18 months and three years, children begin to realize that they exist as separate individuals apart from you. This revelation starts a revolution as your child begins to exert independence! Now, when it is time to get dressed, take a bath, or even get strapped in the car seat, your child says (or more accurately loudly demands!) “No! I do!” with escalating insistence. Where, oh, where has your sweet little baby gone, indeed.

Take heart. Your sweet little baby is still there. Your child might be stretching his independence muscles, but your little one still needs the sense of security that only you can offer during this emotionally turbulent time of development. Each week in Kindermusik class we provide a safe, predictable, and developmentally appropriate environment where your child can experience guided independence by practicing new skills, making choices, and sharing unique ideas with the class but still run back to the safety of your arms at a moments notice.  So, rock your little one during “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” and know that this quest for independence will lead to a emotionally confident and capable adult…who will always be your sweet little baby!

Everyday Connection: Me Do…and You Do! Add an extra 5 to 10 minutes into your morning routine to give your child the time needed to get dressed, brush teeth, or put on shoes without your help. Some days your child will be all about “Me Do!” and other days “You Do!” Follow your child’s lead to best support your little one’s need for both independence and security.

Learning through Music: Active Listening

We live in a noisy world. Buzzing lawn mowers, phones ringing, cars honking, dogs barking and cats meowing, planes zooming—and those are just the sounds your child makes during play!  As adults, most of us know how to tune into important sounds and tune out the rest (well, usually!).  Children, however, need to learn how to identify and discriminate between sounds and tune into those sounds that matter most—like the sound of your voice instead of the sound of a toy.

During the school years, children will spend an estimated 50 to 75 percent of classroom time listening to the teacher, to other students, or to media. Developing strong active listening skills will prepare your child for classroom learning, including language and literacy development. Each week in Kindermusik we provide many opportunities for your child to practice active listening skills. So, when we intently listen for the sounds of the pipe organ in a Bach piece, use the wood blocks to produce a Staccato sound, or move smoothly with streamers when we hear the the music change from Staccato to Legato, your child is practicing active listening.

Everyday connection: M is for? Make a letter sound and ask your child to identify the letter and to name an animal that starts with that sound. How would that animal move? What would it sound like? Pick another letter. Try whispering so your child can practice listening even more intently to the sound of your voice.

Learning through Music: Self Awareness

As parents, no one can make us more self-aware than our own child. After all, our children do not need to look like us to be our mirror image.  They mirror our actions and reactions and the words we say in our best moments—and sometimes our not-so-best moments. They can even mimic our likes and dislikes. Eventually, as they become more self aware, children begin to express their own preferences for things, like wearing pajamas everywhere (Not a bad idea!) or eating ice cream for breakfast (Not a good idea!).

In Kindermusik, we support your child’s growing self-awareness and your unique role in it.  Each week we include activities that not only encourage your child’s personal choices but we actually incorporate them into the lesson. By including your child’s favorite way to say “Hello” at the beginning of class or movement idea during the “Monkey Dance,” we place value on your child’s ideas and preferences.  In doing so, your child learns to not only recognize and share ideas in a meaningful way but also to celebrate the differences of others.

Everyday Connection: Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings. Recognizing and responding appropriately to feelings further develop self-awareness skills in young children. Listen to music that expresses different emotions, like happy, sad, angry, or scared. Dance with your child based on the emotion and help your child label the emotion. Not only does this activity develop children’s vocabulary; it also helps them to identify—and even to manage—their own emotions.

 

Learning through Music: Scaffolding

There is a reason children start out small. Changing diapers and clothes, strapping into car seats, bathing, feeding, sleeping (or not): It’s a steep learning curve for new parents! For many of us, it’s only after surviving that first year (and every year thereafter) that we recognize how much we learned along the way—and how much more we have to learn! Thankfully, as we built on what the previous day taught us, we gained both skills and confidence in our parenting abilities.

In Kindermusik, we call this learning process “scaffolding.” Each week in class, we support your child’s learning by building on your child’s current abilities and nourishing your unique role as your child’s first and best teacher. Scaffolding involves varying the level of the activity depending upon your child’s responses. So each week in class scaffolding occurs when you investigate together different ways to mend shoes with rhythm sticks or when you follow your child’s lead on how to move with the scarves on “Sing a Ling” while also offering suggestions based on the original idea. As with your parenting abilities, scaffolding helps your child gain both skills and confidence.
Everyday Connection: “Scaffolding Seuss.” During story time, use scaffolding techniques to support your child’s emerging literacy skills. Point out letters, label the pictures, ask your child questions about what is happening or encourage your child to make predictions about what will happen next or even after the book ends. Let your child’s responses guide the conversation.

Learning Through Music: Fine Motor Skills

Do you remember when we actually called someone on a cell phone? Ah, those primitive years! Then texting entered the scene. Many of us watched in amazement as those of a certain age moved their fingers at an alarming rate while we struggled to text even one word on the tiniest of keyboards. Our finger muscles and fine motor skills certainly got a workout as we learned this new skill.

Children also need to learn how to use and coordinate their finger, hand, and wrist muscles—not for texting—but for reaching, grasping, and more. In Kindermusik class each week, we include many activities that support your child’s fine motor skills development. Wiggling fluffy chicks in a “Ten Egg” finger play or striking the resonator bars on “Sweetly Swings the Donkey” helps your child learn to coordinate hand, finger, and wrist movements that support fine motor control and precision. The skills practiced in class and at home build the foundation your child needs for buttoning buttons, zipping zippers, tying shoes, using scissors, and even writing. Texting will come later. Much later.

Everyday connection: Let your fingers do the walking. Finger plays are great activities to do together anywhere. Waiting at the doctor, grocery shopping, restaurants, or even at bedtime. Teach your favorite to your child or pick one from class. 

Many Thanks for Culture Days – Celebrating the Arts!

What a terrific class we just had, celebrating the Canada wide Culture Days event! Local families with children under age 7 from Port Credit joined us at Sing Music Studio to participate in a fun filled music and movement class to celebrate the event! There was singing, lots of movement, instruments, laughing and learning for both parents and kids. And was it ever fun! I’m lucky to say I really do love what I do! I adore meeting new children and families and sharing my passion for music with them – what better time to do that than during Culture Days!

So thanks for participating with me today! And thanks to Culture Days for creating such a wonderful weekend of arts celebration! I’m really looking forward to continuing to share my passion for music and music education with more new and familiar children and families this coming week as our new Kindermusik classes begin!