Music Before your Baby is Born

benefits of prenatal musicExpectant parents plan for – and worry about! – a lot of things.  Your unborn baby’s musical development may not be on the check list just yet, but don’t worry – you are your baby are more prepared than you might think.

Your baby is already musical!  After all, he/she has been listening to the steady beat of your heartbeat and listening to your voice – which happens to be the most beautiful sound in the world to your little one’s ears!

Your baby is able to see, hear, feel, and learn even before birth.  Music is a powerful stimuli, and as such, can help enhance physical, emotional, sensory, and mental development.  According to Dr. Sarah Brewer, “…[m]usically stimulated babies seem to develop more quickly, talking up to six months earlier, and have improved intellectual development.”

Your baby is already developing musical preferences.  Studies have shown that the music a baby hears frequently while in the womb will be some of his favorite music to listen to when he’s born… until he’s around two years of age, that is.  After that, he’ll let you know what his new opinions are about music!

Your baby benefits from a variety of music.  You don’t have to limit your pregnancy play list to only Mozart or quiet lullabies.  “Diversity of different kinds of music are essential and can be useful for the baby’s future writing, reading, and language skills,” says Dr. Philip A. De Fina, chief neuropsychologist and director of neurotherapies at the NYU Brain Research Laboratories.

As with all good things, the key with music stimulation is moderation.  If you’re getting tired of listening to certain music, chances are your baby is too!  To find some great music recordings and musical inspiration, look no further than your nearest Kindermusik educator.  One of the hallmarks of Kindermusik is our musical variety in class and at home through your @Home Materials.  Your local Kindermusik educator would be delighted to have you come visit a class, even before your baby is born.  And then your Kindermusik enrollment is one more thing you can check off the list before your new arrival turns your life happy-crazy upside-down.

ways to hold baby posterAnd so, when things settle down a bit, we’ll look forward to having you and your newborn in Kindermusik.  The brain grows and develops at an astounding rate in the early years, and there’s no better window of opportunity for exposing your baby to the rich developmental benefits of music.  Plus you’ll love the opportunity to gain precious insights into this new little miracle as you spend special time together in class, make new friends, find a support network, and savor these precious, fleeting moments of babyhood.  Parents agree… there’s no better bonding experience than Kindermusik.  We’ll look forward to seeing you in class soon!

Find your local Kindermusik educator and schedule your free visit today!

4 Benefits of Music for Big Kids

Kindermusik_SoundtrackForAnySeason_web-250x250-250x250Growing up, but not all grown up yet – thankfully!  The early years of childhood pass so quickly, and before you know it, your child has officially earned “big kid” status.  The turbulence of the toddler years and the exuberance of the preschool years are past, and your big kid can mostly be described as composed, calm, cheerful, and capable.  Big kids are eager, curious learners, and they love to share their ideas.

For a big kid, self-esteem, feeling capable, and doing things the “right way” all go hand-in-hand.  They thrive on structure and affirmation, but they still need time to play and have fun.  Big kids love being part of a group, and they crave friendship and acceptance from their peers, preferring to play and interact with others than to be by themselves.  And while their thinking can be black-and-white, cognitively, they have made huge leaps in their ability to problem-solve and think more abstractly.  Big kids tend to ask alot of “why” and “how” questions because they love to know a lot of facts.  They love simple games, and having lots of time for creative play is very important.  Movements are much more poised and controlled, and big kids loving showing off their new-found physical skills.

It is truly the age of opportunity for these learners-in-waiting.  But it also a time not to be rushed through or passed over.  The big kids years are a special time to settle in and enjoy the last phase of early childhood and to provide your child with experiences and opportunities that will set him up for success in school, in music, and in life.

That’s where Kindermusik comes in, providing a weekly class that satisfies the need to be part of a group, to learn new things, to play games, and to express oneself through music and movement.  And in the middle of all of the fun and music-making, a very strong foundation is being laid for a successful transition to music lessons a little later on.

Here are four invaluable benefits of music for big kids:

1. Music exposes big kids to big, new ideas.

At this age, these eager learners are ready to be introduced to rhythms and rhythm patterns, music symbols, keyboards and dulcimers, and writing and composing their own music through hands-on and developmentally appropriate experiences.  They can follow the story line of a work like “Peter and the Wolf” and identify the various motifs and instruments that are the hallmark of this beloved musical tale.

2. Music teaches big kids to be good listeners.

Focused listening and discriminatory listening are a big part of music.  Listening for certain things in music or to certain music sounds as well as being able to distinguish between musical sounds and instruments develop listening skills. And while being a good listener is a musical skill, it’s also an extremely valuable life skill.

3. Music helps make the cognitive connections needed for nearly every kind of intelligence.

We all want our kids to be smart and to be successful, and music is the one common contributing factor in almost all of the nine types of intelligence.  According to articles like this one and this one, it’s early experiences with music that best spark the brain connections and neural networks that actually shape the brain and impact how it will function later in life.

4. Music is one thing that stays in a child’s heart for forever.

There are lots of choices for early childhood – dance, sports, gymnastics, and more!  But music is the one love, the one ability, that a child has the potential to carry with them all the way through their entire lives.  Developing in your child a love and appreciation for music at an early age is a life-long gift you can give, and it’s something that will also carry with it special memories of the loved ones who made that gift possible.

BenefitsOfKindermusik_BigKidsMusicClasses_InfographicFor parents…

You want to give your child every advantage, and there’s truly no greater advantage you can give than music, especially in a program like Kindermusik.  It’s the right activity at the right time, when your child is poised and ready to soak it all in and be enable to apply that knowledge to music lessons and musical experiences in the future.  Kindermusik truly is the perfect foundation for lifelong learning.

And yet as profoundly as Kindermusik affects your child’s musical development, the musical learning is fun, pressure-free, and exactly what your child needs at a time when they can benefit from it the most.

“Music develops the appetite for learning and creates habits of self-discipline and personal tenacity which carry over into every facet of school.  Young musicians are skilled at concentration, alertness, memory, and self-control.  These attributes are basic for success in higher education, but more importantly, in succeeding at life.”

 The Joy of Inspired Teaching, by Tim Lautzenheiser, p. 55

Young Child students play glockenspiel dulcimer drum and recorder
Expose your child to the benefits of Kindermusik, the world’s leader in early childhood music and movement curricula.  Try a Kindermusik class today!

7 reasons for children under 7 to learn a second language

Je suis. Tu es. Il est. Nous sommes. If you studied a second language in high school or college, you probably know all about conjugating verbs. As teenagers or adults, learning the grammar rules of another language often form the foundation for second-language learning. However, teaching a second language to children looks completely different. After all, children under the age of 7 can’t read or write. However, young children are uniquely suited to learn another language. Here’s why:

7 reasons for children under 7 to learn another language

  1. Learning a second language under the age of 7 is cognitively as easy as learning a first language. Young children learn languages by listening to the sounds, structures, and intonation patterns around them. So young ELL students learn English the same way they learn their first language.
  2. Young English language learners learn to speak like a native speaker, without an accent.7 reasons for children under 7 to learn a second language
  3. Teaching English as a second language positively impacts the cognitive development in children. According to research, children who learn a second language experience better critical-thinking skills, enhanced spatial relations, and increased creativity when compared to their monolingual peers.
  4. Acquiring second-language fluency prepares children to live and work in a global society.
  5. Young English language learners experience a boost in the language and literacy abilities of their first language, including vocabulary development. Added bonus: this advantage continues to broaden as children grow older.
  6. Children who learn a second language exhibit enhanced attention skills when compared to monolingual peers.
  7. Learning a second language at an early age increases children’s confidence and teaches them to love learning. 

ESL curriculum uses English songs for kids (and more!)

Our ESL curriculum builds on our more than 35 years of teaching young children. Through English songs for kids, story time, movement activities, and puppets, young ELL students learn English in a fun and engaging environment using research-proven methods. Plus, enrollment includes access to Kindermusik@Home where parents can support the English language learning at home where a child can continue to naturally acquire language skills.

Kindermusik@Home ESL activityTry this sample Kindermusik@Home activity. The Just Me! music video incorporates a multi-sensory teaching approach to support visual, auditory, and tactile learning.

Learn more about Kindermusik’s English Language Learning curriculum, ABC English & Me. 

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer in the Atlanta area. 

 

4 Benefits of Music for Preschoolers

Kindermusik_SoundtrackForAnySeason_web-250x250-250x250Imaginative.  Adventurous.  Exuberant.  Brash.  Social.  Silly.  Musical.   Preschoolers are the living definition of all of these words… and more!  It’s what we love most about this delightful age.  Their energy, curiosity, and delight in living life out loud are fostered by an increasing sense of independence and self-confidence.  They are developing their individuality and want to be noticed and acknowledged.  Preschoolers are social butterflies, and their social skills are blossoming, as are their growing abilities to cooperate, problem-solve, share, and make friends.

Play is the preschooler’s work.  In fact, there is no better way for these eager and curious thinkers to learn, grow, and develop than through play – play alone and play with others – including mom and dad!  The expansiveness of the preschooler’s personality overflows into his vocabulary and self-expression.  Preschoolers love playing with words, and they like to talk. A lot.  And if you’ve heard it once, you’ve answered it a thousand times – this is the age of “why.”  It’s how they learn and interact.  Their movements become more expansive too, and the need to move is because of their boundless amounts of energy.  (And you thought you were tired chasing them as toddlers!)

But perhaps the best way to sum up the preschooler season of childhood is with the word “readiness.”  Preschoolers are on the verge of so much potential.  They are ready – ready to try new things, take turns, be challenged, and work cooperatively with others.  Simply put, they’re ready to get ready!

With music as the vehicle, Kindermusik helps your child be ready.  Ready to face life head on, ready for school, ready for new adventures, and ready for that next step in music.  Movement, imagination, play, creativity, exploration, interacting, and ensemble all set the stage for making sure your child has every advantage in a very critical season of childhood – that wonderful transition from baby to big kid that we call “preschooler”!

Here are four of the most powerful benefits of music for preschoolers:

1. Music encourages children to move. 

Movement and music are as closely connected as movement and learning.  At a time when there are increasing concerns about how long these young children are being required to sit still, being able to move to music is a gift.  Here’s how a Washington Post reporter summed it up in her recent article, “In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention.  In order to pay attention, we need to let them move.”

2. Music fosters a sense of community and belonging.

At the core of every human being is a desire to belong.  When that need to belong is fulfilled, it contributes to healthy emotional development and well-being.  Self-confidence grows as a child learns to function within a group.  And there’s no happier group experience than making music together!

3. Music provides an outlet for self-expression.

With gifts, experiences, thoughts, and ideas that simply overflow, a music class offers a secure environment for each individual child to explore, learn, and contribute.  The value is in the experience itself with play, discovery, singing, story telling, and new challenges as the tools that open the door for self-expression, meaningful learning, and a lifelong love for music.

4. Music readiness and academic readiness go hand-in-hand.

The same skills and experiences necessary for a child to be ready for music lessons when they are older are the same skills and experiences that enhance and even accelerate academic readiness and success.  Listening, identifying patterns, problem-solving, creative thinking, and self-confidence are skills that music develops – skills that are also a measurable contributors to academic achievement.

For parents…

preschoolerYou want to give your child every advantage.  And yet, you don’t want to let him or her grow up too fast.  Childhood is meant to be savored and enjoyed, a time that you share experiences and create memories that stay in the heart for years to come.

Kindermusik helps you linger in those precious moments of childhood and make the most of the preschool season with your child.  With a class structure that includes time apart and time together, Kindermusik is perfect for the preschool season of childhood.  You’ll love watching your child blossom, and you’ll love the way your time together in class and your music-making at home brings you together in new and special ways.

And the icing on the cake is knowing that you’re giving your child a gift that truly lasts a lifetime – the gift of a musical foundation and love for music that uniquely prepares your child like no other single activity can.

Kindermusik is where music and learning playExperience the benefits of Kindermusik for yourself.  Contact a local Kindermusik educator and visit a free class today!

6 reasons music belongs in a Head Start or preschool program

6 reasons music belongs in a Head Start or preschool programSomething amazing happens in a preschool classroom when music comes out to play. Children (and teachers!) smile and laugh, hum or sing along, and move their bodies to the steady beat. Children express thoughts and feelings naturally and easily through movement and music. However, the benefits of music reach beyond the simple pleasure of making music together. Participating in musical activities preps children for so much more than, well, music appreciation. It actually primes the brain for learning and sets a child up for success in school now—and later!

6 reasons to bring music and movement into a Head Start, Early Head Start, or Preschool program

  1. Movement stimulates the release of chemicals in a child’s brain that support memory and learning. Young children move to learn and learn to move. Music education classes for young children encourage them to move around the classroom and practice using their arms, legs, feet, and their entire bodies. In our Head Start curriculum, when we clap hello at the beginning of class, fly like a bird, stand and stretch our arms high like a tree, or even dance around the room, children strengthen and refine gross motor skills. Plus, all of this movement supports memory and learning, promotes vestibular system development, and engages the body and mind. In early childhood development, movement prepares children for learning! Valerie Strauss explained it this way in The Washington Post article, “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today: “In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order to pay attention, we need to let them move.”
  2. Music teaches children sequencing. Being able to break down a task into steps from first to last, helps young children comprehend a story, complete a math problem, and even get dressed to go to school each morning. Plus, breaking down a task—like getting ready for recess—into steps (clean up area, push in chair, put on jacket, stand in line, etc.) gives young children practice in self-management, which reduces frustration. In our preschool curriculum, we provide lots of sequencing opportunities through music and movement activities.
  3. Children gain practice in recognizing relationships between sounds and symbols. Do you remember taking spelling tests as a child? Sitting at your desk, listening intently as your teacher said a word, and then trying to visualize what the word looked like while also attempting to write it on your paper? Listening, identifying the word, and then writing the word down helped you become a better reader. Although we don’t give spelling tests (or any tests, for that matter) in our preschool curriculum, we do give children’s ears lots of musical practice in listening to rhythms, identifying what they hear, repeating them, and using rhythm cards to “write” the patterns down. We call this process rhythmic dictation. So, while we “ta ta ti-ti ta,” clap, pick out the right rhythm card, or play an instrument along with the music, young children gain practice in recognizing relationships between sounds and symbols, which supports preschoolers budding musicianship and early literacy skills.
  4. Music helps children develop self-regulation skills. Self-regulation is the ability to control our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Our Head Start curriculum uses music and movement to help children learn to tell their bodies what to do, when to stop, when to go, and when to move to another activity. So, when we play a Stop & Go game, participate in a circle dance, transition from one activity to another, and even share instruments, young children learn and practice self-regulation skills. Those same skills help children pay attention throughout the school day and act and behave appropriately.
  5. Music builds early literacy and language skills. Research indicates that our brains process music and language in similar ways because they share fundamental connections. Understanding a spoken sentence requires the successful auditory processing of the individual phonemes combined with the intonation communicated by pitch. In addition, music supports comprehension, phonological awareness, vocabulary acquisition, and print development.
  6. Every child and every parent speaks music, regardless of abilities and the language used in the home. Parent involvement in early childhood education matters. Every preschool teacher and Head Start administrator understands that it can be the difference between a child exceeding…or not.  After all, a parent is a child’s first and best teacher, especially in those critical first seven years. It’s one of the reasons our Head Start curriculum includes monthly materials for families to use together at home, where a child learns best. These materials include the music from class and the book as well as practical ideas and tips on incorporating the music and movement activities throughout a family’s daily routines and rituals.

Learn About Kindermusik at SchoolFor more information about bringing music into your Head Start or preschool program, email us at abcinfo@kindermusik.com. Be sure to ask how children participating in our classes for 30 minutes a week experience a 32 percent more literacy gain.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer living in Atlanta, Georgia.