Stop and Go

Driving in stop-and-go traffic can be frustrating. A quick trip to the shop can turn into a 30-minute ordeal. (Will we make this light? Oh no, someone is turning left. Someone else is trying to merge. Urgh!) Stop and go. Stop and go. Will you ever make it to the shop? Thankfully, adults usually practice self-control during stop-and-go traffic. Otherwise, drivers would use footpaths as shortcuts, ignore traffic signals, or nudge the car in front of them just to get where they want to go.

Your child, however, is still learning self-control. Activities that encourage stopping and going in response to a cue helps children practice regulating their body movements or speech and waiting their turn. In Kindermusik class, we include many opportunities for your child to practice starting and stopping: from the first “Hello” song we sing, to starting and stopping when playing the rhythm sticks, and even when walking around the “farm” stopping to look at the animals we hear. All this practice boosts your child’s inhibitory control and confidence, which will set the stage for early academic success.

Everyday Connection: Toys Away! Using musical cues, such as “Instruments away, instruments away…” can make it easier for your child to handle transitions, such as picking up toys, getting out of the bathtub, or even putting on shoes. You’ve seen it work in class, now try it at home!

Colours and Shapes

Do you remember when we actually called someone on a mobile 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 zips, 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, food shopping, restaurants, or even at bedtime. Teach your favourite to your child or pick one from class.

 

Vocabulary Development

Preschoolers need to hear three little words often throughout the day. No, not those three little words, but, of course, “I love you” can never be said enough! Telling a young child to “use your words” can profoundly impact a preschooler’s vocabulary development, and more. Although typically developing 4- to 5-year-old children know between 1,000 to 2,000 words, they still need help identifying the world around them, especially the increasingly complex range of emotions they experience throughout any given day.

 

At Kindermusik, we know expanding children’s vocabulary can boost their conversational abilities, early literacy skills, and even help with self-control. All key skills needed for early academic (and life!) success. This month we intentionally use music to identify, label, and explore feelings. So, in class, when your child shares reasons to feel happy, sad, or angry, then sings about that emotion or creates a story that starts sadly and ends happily, your little one is safely learning about feelings and gaining practice expressing them using words.

 

Everyday Connection:  Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings. Listening and moving to music gives you easy opportunities to talk with your child about feelings. When listening to music, ask: How do you feel when you listen to this song? How would you dance to this song if you were feeling angry? Sad? Scared? Confused? Shy? Disappointed? Lonely? Joyful?

Nonsense

Do you remember your child’s first few words? Although the Oxford English Dictionary didn’t include definitions for “da,” “ba-ba,” or “la,” you knew—without a doubt—your little one said daddy, bye, and mummy. (Or, something along those lines!) Now, as a toddler, you may hear your child deliberately making up silly sounding words and giggling profusely. I mean, seriously, blibber-blobber, really is funny! Laughing together over nonsense words supports your child’s growing sense of humour!

 

In Kindermusik, we know that nonsense words also support your child’s early language and literacy development. While your child may laugh at the silliness of nonsense words from class like “Fiddle-dee-dee” or “fuzzy wuzzy,” your child is also practising in the development of specific oral motor skills that create vowels, consonants, or cluster sounds. Nonsense words often employ alliteration and rhyme, which fosters phonemic awareness or the understanding that words are made up of small speech sounds or phonemes. So, blibber-blobber or fiddle-dee-dee away!

 

Everyday Connection: Call the Doctor. Dr. Seuss made a living making up nonsense words like wocket, grickle-grass, and zizzer-zazzer-zuzz. Read some Dr. Seuss this week and add some new nonsense words to your family’s vocabulary.

Imagination

Many parents love to imagine their little ones all grown up. Will she be a doctor, teacher, CEO? Will he travel around the world, open up a restaurant, or work from home to stay with the children? Ask your child what the future holds and you may hear any number of ideas: M&M chocolate maker, firefighter-super hero, monster catcher, parent with 20 children (whoa!), or mermaid. In a child’s imagination, anything is possible.

 

Each week in class, we create an environment that fosters your child’s growing imagination. When we pretend to ride bicycles, go on a mountain hike, or play in the waves at the beach, your child’s imagination (and gross-motor and social skills!) get a workout.

During the pretend play activities, the social interaction is usually characterised by a heightened use of action and language. At home, where your child is most comfortable, the imaginative play can become even more complex as your child reexamines life experiences and adds to or changes what really happened.

 

Everyday connection: Character Acting. Encourage imagination and emerging literacy by pretending to be the characters from a favourite book. Let your child lead the way…even if it differs from the story’s plot. You might even get your child to clean up (or eat vegetables!) while in character!  

Expressive Movement

Becoming a parent means becoming a teacher—as in your child’s first and best teacher. But it also means becoming a student. Children teach us how to move and sound like a rubbish truck, an aeroplane zooming in the sky, popcorn popping in the microwave, or even how to spin around in a circle faster than fast pretending to be a whirlpool. (Most of us need help learning how not to feel queasy after that one!)

Supporting your child’s expressive movement helps connect the outer world of movement and sound with the inner world of feelings and observations. In class each week, when we dance around the room in time to the music, reach for a star in the night, or spread our robin wings and fly in search of food, your child taps into a growing imagination and experiences support for early artistic expressions.

Everyday Connection: Take a Bird Bath. Expressive movement isn’t just for class. Tap into your child’s imagination during bath time. After feeding all those baby birds in class, your little robin needs a bath. How would a robin (gently) splash in the water, wash the dirt from feathers, or even fly around the room to dry off?

Graphic Notation

Children learn to read long before they can, well, literally read, by recognising that one thing can be a symbol for something else. An infant may learn that a bottle means food. Hearing the same lullaby music each night can gently send a bedtime signal to a toddler. And those three little lines that appear on a parent’s forehead symbolise “uh-oh” to a preschooler who used permanent marker to decorate the couch.

At Kindermusik, we know learning how to recognise and read signs and symbols correctly takes practice and is an early step to knowing the letters and corresponding sounds of the alphabet. Each week in class, we use music to give your child a fun, age-appropriate way to practice. We call it graphic notation. In “The Elephant and the Waterfall,” we explore graphic notation or the relationship between printed symbols and the associated sounds, when your child sees a picture of a large dot and hears or plays a loud, short sound or sees a picture of dashes and hears or plays quiet, short sounds. Both music and reading literacy depend upon your child’s ability to make those connections.

Everyday Connection: A picture is worth a thousand notes. Put on your favourite Kindermusik songs and draw pictures together to represent what you hear. Ask your child to talk about each creation, including colour choices. Bring to class to share or post on our Facebook page.

Spatial Awareness

Do you remember the first time you tried ice-skating? Clinging to the wall around the rink and refusing to let go. There was likely a good deal of wobbling, flailing, and slipping. The experience was probably a bit more like ice-sitting! With practice (and some help from your vestibular sense), you learned to balance, adjust your speed, and stop. And then, of course, there’s that crucial safety component.

The skill that guides you to follow the curve of the rink. It allows you to avoid crashing into the wall. Also granting you to navigate around a maze of other skaters to avoid a collision. That skill is called spatial awareness. It’s the ability to comprehend where you are in space. To understand the position of objects in relation to each other and to yourself. Your toddler needs to master spatial awareness in order to keep himself safe as he learns to walk, run, and negotiate the world around him.

In Kindermusik, we support your little one’s spatial awareness development through movement, songs, poems, and props. So, when we explore directions during a fingerplay, dance forwards and backwards during “Lost My Gold Ring,” or go on a swervy-curvy blanket ride, your little one gains a greater understanding of  his body and where it is in relation to other things and people.

This will help him learn to manoeuvre through a busy school hallway, kick a ball on the playground, and glide safely around another ice skater on a crowded rink (as you applaud from the safety of the bleachers!). But spatial awareness will do more for your child than just keep him safe. Studies show a link between spatial awareness and artistic creativity, success in math, and the development of abstract thought.

Everyday Connection:

Hokey-Pokey at the Store. “You put your toddler in (the cart), You take your toddler out.” Go ahead and use those directional words and songs throughout the day. Making personal connections helps your child gain a better understanding of spatial concepts.

Joy of Music

Parents sometimes don’t realise how “easy” a certain developmental stage is until their children move on to the next. Being pregnant seems “easy” when you are waking up every two to three hours to feed a newborn. Babies seem “easy” when your toddler won’t stay in the cart (quietly!) during your weekly grocery run. Toddlers seem “easy” when your preschooler stops taking an afternoon nap. Well, the truth is no developmental stage is actually “easy.” Each stage comes with unique challenges and delights.

 

At Kindermusik, we celebrate your child’s stage of development with the indelible joy of music. Woven through and around the learning in a Kindermusik class is the simple pleasure of making music together. When we play drums in class during “Ritsch Ratsch” or dance around the room to the “Yangtze Boat Song,” your child expresses thoughts and feelings naturally and easily through movement and music. Plus, when you join in the music making in class or “rumble, rumble, rumble in the jungle, jungle, jungle” at home, you create memorable moments full of joy that you and your child will carry in your hearts from one developmental stage to the next!

 

Everyday Connection: Singing in the Rain. You don’t need a sunny day to sing. Anytime is the right time to sing with your child. So, go ahead, sing along with the music from class or make up your own songs together. The memories you create will last a lifetime!

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—mummy’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 humour. 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.

Benefits of Music

As a parent, you may wonder from time to time if you are doing the right thing and making the right choices for your little one. After all, you want the best for your child. It’s probably one of the reasons you enrolled in Kindermusik in the first place. Take heart. You ARE in the right place.

 

When young children are consistently engaged by music in an age-appropriate, socially accepting environment, they benefit on so many levels. Learning through music literally lights up every area of your child’s brain and teaches your little one to love learning. When we recite a nursery rhyme, participate in a circle dance or movement activity, play a vocal game, and explore instruments, children develop in so many ways:

 

  • Early Literacy. They gain the phonological processing, spoken language, and comprehension skills that are the foundation of reading.
  • Quantitative Reasoning. They build the spatial-temporal and reasoning skills required for maths, science, and engineering.
  • Social-Emotional Skills. They develop social and emotional skills that are essential for school readiness—like the ability to regulate their responses and relate to others in complex ways.
  • Physical Dexterity. By moving and dancing to music and playing simple instruments, children improve their gross- and fine-motor skills.
  • Creativity. Activities that encourage freedom within a fun and friendly structure spark children’s creativity and provide inspiration.
  • And, of course, they develop a lifelong love of music.

 

Everyday Connection: Let the music play. You are your child’s first and best teacher. Throughout the week, listen to music from class together, sing lullabies, dance around the house, or do favorite activities from last week’s lesson. Your child will love spending special time with you, and you will love the positive effects music has on your child!

Spatial Development

Do you remember learning how to drive a car? Working out how to safely merge into traffic, learning the speed at which to take a curve, and even mastering (gulp!) parallel parking took practice. You needed to familiarise yourself with the size and shape of your vehicle, learn how to manoeuvre all the necessary gadgets, and figure out how close your car was to others on the road. Driving takes a keen sense of spatial awareness, which is the ability to be mindful of where you are in space and to see two or more objects in relation to each other and to yourself.

Although they’re not quite ready for their driving licences, babies are learning how to “drive” and control their bodies—and spatial awareness helps them, too. In Kindermusik, when you hold your baby “up in the sky” during the circle dance, interact with moving balls during tummy time, or even play with scarves, your baby gains a greater understanding of his body and how it relates to his surroundings. The music and movement activities in Kindermusik help your child begin to grasp concepts such as distance, speed, placement (over, under, behind, etc.), and even gravity.

Everyday Connection: Space (Awareness) Cadet. Any time of the day is the perfect time to support your child’s spatial development. So go ahead, put on some music, pick up your baby, and ziggy-zag-zoom around the house, down the street, or in front of the bathroom mirror. Your little space cadet will gain a greater sense of spatial awareness while you get a few extra snuggles and smiles!

Tempo

Have you ever noticed that on Kindermusik days (or go-to-the-park days) your child can fly through the morning routine like a superhero leaping tall buildings; but on days that call for a trip to the supermarket, your child uses superhero brain power to think of every excuse NOT to get ready? Each day’s agenda can motivate a child to move faster than fast or sssssllllllooooowerrrr than ssssssllllooooooowwwwww.

 

In Kindermusik, we use music and movement to explore the concept of tempo by harnessing a child’s natural interest in moving fast and slow. When we listen to “Let’s Go Riding Together” and travel around the room quickly or slowly or when we play the sticks along with “Down by the Station” in different tempi, your child experiences the concept of tempo before being able to explain it with words. Using music and movement to express tempo helps your child learn to control and coordinate body movements that can lead to success in a wide range of activities, from using scissors to playing sports or piano and even to reading aloud.

 

Everyday Connection: Travelling at the speed of music. The next time your child tries to set a different tempo to your morning routine than you would like, try adding some music to the mix. Listen to “Hine Raveket” (or other songs with different tempi) and encourage your child to get dressed, brush teeth, etc. to the song’s tempo.

Musical Notation

Pop stars may sing about the power of love, but in Kindermusik circles we sing about the power of music. Humming a favourite 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 maths 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.

Social Constructivism

Every child’s birth is unique. In the delivery room, the mum- and dad-to-be, doctor, midwife, nurse, grandmother-to-be, etc. all contribute to the process—whether it’s physically labouring, checking vital signs, or offering a hand to be squeezed (ouch!). Ask each person post-birth to describe what happened and all would construct a slightly different story based on their own life experiences and contributions to the process.

 

While newborns regularly attend Kindermusik, we don’t experience many births! However, we do create a learning environment where every participant contributes and takes away something unique based on their own experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. This experiential environment where the learning process is shared by everyone in the group—including children, parents, and the teacher—is called “social constructivism.” Each week, a Kindermusik educator guides the class towards a learning objective, such as steady beat, timbre, or vocal play, with children as active participants in the learning process. Providing children with ample time to reflect, compare, make choices, express opinions and preferences, and engage in problem solving activities together teaches children not only the lesson focus but it teaches them how to learn.

 

Everyday Connection: A Puzzled Look. As a family, put an age-appropriate puzzle together without showing your child the picture as a guide. Along the way take guesses of what the puzzle is and create stories about what is happening. After the puzzle is complete, talk about what you discovered and how you figured out how to put the puzzle together.

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