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.

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.

Spatial Awareness

Do you remember that class in school where you wondered if you would ever use that skill in the real world? Quadratic equations and drawing a sentence might come to mind. Spatial awareness, on the other hand, is something you use every day but never took an actual class on it. You employ spatial awareness when you use a fork to pick up food from your plate and put it in your mouth or when you read and recognise how each of the letters relate to each other and relate to the page. Simply put, spatial awareness is an organised awareness of the objects in the space around us and an understanding of our body’s position in space.

 

At Kindermusik, we know that to develop spatial awareness in children requires involvement with concrete situations and interactions with people and objects. (Cue the hula hoops, drums, and room full of children and adults!) So, each week when we pretend to be animals who fall into their holes or play the drums on “Bumpin’ Up and Down,” your child gains a greater understanding of spatial awareness, which leads to learning other concepts such as direction, distance, and location. That is a skill your child will use forever. Really!

 

Everyday Connection: Location, Location, Location. Try a new twist on an old favourite. Play “I Spy” but instead of spying colours use spatial terms. “I spy something on the table, under the tree, beside the cup, to the left of the car.”

The Social and Emotional Toddler

People crave connections. It’s one of the reasons we have hundreds of Facebook friends, including that kid you played soccer with 10 (or 20!) years ago, that parent you met in birthing class, and, of course, your circle of closest confidants. However, social and emotional connections involve more than just making friends. Did you know those connections also prime our brains for learning and remembering?

 

At Kindermusik, we get it. We know the importance of your toddler making emotional and social connections with you—and with other children and adults. In fact, joyfully playing together in class teaches children that they are loved, important, and fun to be around. So, when we ask and implement each child’s idea for singing hello, point out a new way a child plays with an instrument, or engage in a game of peekaboo with scarves, your child receives positive social-emotional messages. Seeing you enjoy playing with him in class and at home offers your child the self-confidence he will need to build strong and loving relationships throughout his life.

 

Everyday Connection: What’s so funny? Be silly with your toddler. Have tickle fights. Make funny noises or goofy faces. Laughing together creates social bonds and healthy emotional attachments. Plus, laughing strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress—and is just plain fun!

Exploring the World

Think about your ideal place to go on holiday. For many, the beach ranks near the top. It’s no wonder: the feel of the sand between your toes, the smell of the salty air, the blue of the water, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the taste of fresh fish for dinner. (Ready for holiday yet?) Whether or not the beach is your top spot, your memory most likely draws from many of your senses when you think about your favourite location. There’s a reason for that—experiences that use more than one of our senses stay with us longer.

At Kindermusik, we understand that even the youngest baby benefits from hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, and smelling new things. Even the lesser-known senses, the proprioceptive sense (which reports information to the brain about body position) and the vestibular sense (which controls alertness and balance), are involved in discovering, exploring, and helping baby figure out how the world works. That’s why Kindermusik class is chock-full of opportunities for your baby to experience the world through multiple senses simultaneously. It’s one of the reasons we take off our shoes—so baby can feel with his feet! It’s why we listen to the sound of a buzzing bee, play with jingly bells, and blow a gentle “wind” on baby’s skin. So go ahead, kick off your shoes and enjoy a mini-vacation with your baby in Kindermusik class!

Everyday Connection: Sensational Learning—Go on a real nature walk with your baby. Let your little one feel the different textures of grass, leaves, tree trunks, or even feathers. Talk about what you see. Point out the different sounds you hear and the smells you encounter.

Fine Motor Skills

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.

Tuning Baby’s Listening Ears

Do you ever just stop and really listen to your surroundings? It’s kind of noisy. You might hear the sounds of music or television commercials, the humming of the refrigerator, birds singing, cars driving by, your baby babbling, wind blowing, a coffee maker brewing, the microwave beeping, someone talking, and more. Thankfully, as an adult, you know how to tune in to the sounds that matter most and tune out the sounds you don’t need to focus on. Babies, however, are still working on this skill.

 

In Kindermusik classes, we enhance your baby’s growing discriminatory listening skills when we listen to and imitate instruments, animal noises, and all kinds of other sounds. This ability to detect and attend to sounds, and to distinguish between them, sets your baby on the path to fine-tuned listening and receptive language.

 

Everyday Connection: Tell Me More! Model and encourage active listening—and the art of conversation—by talking with your baby. Pause. Listen to your baby’s reply. Then respond by saying, “Tell me more,” or, “That sounds interesting.”

Baby’s Work Through Play

It’s hard to argue with a genius like Albert Einstein. After all, he was, well, an actual genius. So it’s no shocker that he was right when he declared that “Play is the highest form of research.” Turns out that even babies use play to research the world. Infants learn about new sounds, sights, tastes, movements, and touches—all through play.

During the first year of life, your baby engages in two types of play —social play and object play. In Kindermusik, we provide opportunities for both! When we play a peekaboo game while singing “I See You,” your little one develops his motor skills, his visual skills, and his understanding of object permanence. Best of all, he bonds with you! During object play with instruments, your baby begins to understand cause and effect and how objects can be grouped—all by reaching, grasping, touching, mouthing, pushing, kicking, and even dropping the instruments! And throughout this play, you’re there to support your baby’s “research” with smiles, singing, and encouragement.

Everyday Connection: All the world’s a playground! Your baby plays inside and outside the Kindermusik classroom, in the car and in the crib, in the stroller and in the shopping cart, and everywhere in between. Support your child’s play by talking to your child to enhance his language development, stepping in when he needs help, or stepping back and watching your little scientist figure it out himself!

Repetition

As a parent, some things are worth repeating—the first time you hold your baby, your child’s first laugh or first few steps, watching your child make a new friend, and even a random snuggle on a rainy day. Other moments are best left in the past—your child’s first bout with croup (or an ear infection or a stomach bug!), the, um, nappy incident that happened on a quick trip to the shops, and yes, even the 95th reading of your child’s favourite book.

 

However, from a child development standpoint, reading that same book over and over again is actually a good thing. Few things build your child’s brain and open opportunities for learning more than consistent repetition of healthy activities and experiences. Every new activity your child participates in makes a new neural pathway in your child’s brain. Each time that experience is repeated, the neural pathway (learning!) is strengthened. So, every week in Kindermusik class, we intentionally repeat some of the same activities from previous weeks and also give you the music and resources to repeat them at home. It’s how your child learns best!

 

Everyday connection: Practice makes perfect learning. Listen to the music from class and do the activities together at home. Repeat. Listen to the music from class and do the activities together at home. Repeat.

Early Literacy Development

In the words of writer Emilie Buchwald, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” Being held by a parent during storytime promotes bonding and helps babies connect the sounds of words with pictures. This time provides a natural time to engage in conversations and vocal play. It also models for little ones how to read a book. Yet early literacy development for babies encompasses so much more than snuggling with your baby after a bath and reading Goodnight Moon (no matter how much we love that book!).

 

At Kindermusik, we understand that early literacy extends beyond a parent’s lap. It involves the development of key skills. These include cross-lateral movement, spatial awareness, eye-hand coordination, and eye tracking. Each week in class we intentionally provide music-and-movement activities to support all the areas of your baby’s early literacy development. For example, we move in a variety of cross-lateral ways during “Wash the Dishes,”. We label the movements in “I Like to Sing,”. Whilst also developing spatial awareness during “Water Come a Me Eye.” All of these seemingly unrelated skills combine to help your little one eventually read the words on the page of a favourite book—a moment in which you might find water come a your eye!

 

Everyday Connection:

Mr. Brown Can Mooove. Throughout the day, support your baby’s early literacy development by adding in some of your favourite movement activities from class. Have fun with a little cross-lateral movement after a nappy change, or try labelling a movement as you rock your baby before naptime.

Steady Beat

Walking, running, riding a tricycle, dancing, kicking a ball: you name a whole-body movement and your child is probably trying to master it….in the house, in the garden, at the supermarket, and sometimes while in the car. (Please, stop kicking Mummy’s seat.) All this movement takes a sense of time and the ability to organise and coordinate movements within time.

 

In Kindermusik, we call this regularly paced repeated motion: steady beat! The most basic property of music is beat, the underlying, unchanging, repeating pulse. When playing the sandblocks while listening to “Donkeys Love Carrots” or tapping, shaking, or jingling the bells during “Sweet Potatoes,” your child is practicing steady beat. That same sense of steady beat will help your child walk, run, ride a tricycle, use scissors, and, yes, even kick the back of your seat in time to the music.

 

Everyday connection: Can’t catch me! Put on your favorite Kindermusik songs and pretend to be the Gingerbread Boy (or Girl!). As you take turns chasing each other, try stomping, running, marching, or jumping to the beat to get away. If the Gingerbread Boy gets caught, try tickling to a steady beat!

Steady Beat

Parents of really young children develop interesting habits: the two-minute shower, the no-hands nappy check, and the need to smell newly opened jars of baby food. One habit above all else, however, catches the attention of music teachers. With a baby or toddler in her arms, a parent will steadily sway back and forth, left and right, just like a human metronome. No wonder steady beat is usually the first musical skill a child learns.

 

At every stage of development, Kindermusik includes steady-beat activities. We know that the benefits of steady beat extend well beyond musical skills. Steady beat gives children the ability to walk effortlessly, speak expressively, and even regulate repeated motions such as riding a bicycle, brushing teeth, or dribbling a ball. In Kindermusik classes, your child experiences and responds to steady beat during lap bounces, instrument play, and yes, even when you hold your little one in your arms and sway back and forth, left and right, at the end of class. Now, that’s a habit you will never want to break.

 

Everyday Connection: And the beat goes on. Look for opportunities for your child to experience steady beat outside the classroom. Put on some music and tap, sway, clap, walk, or bounce to the beat.