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.

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!

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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!

Pretend Play

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then your toddler probably lavishes you with flattery throughout the day. You might notice your child “driving” in the backseat, putting a nappy on a favourite stuffed animal, or even “taking a photo” and “posting” it to Facebook with your phone. All of this imitation helps your toddler to begin experiencing the world from an external point of view.

 

For toddlers, imitating the behaviours they see around them is an early stage of pretend play and lays the groundwork for the development of empathy, emotional intelligence, creativity, and imagination. In Kindermusik class each week, we include themes about familiar activities your toddler may experience every day at home. So, while your child imitates a dog barking, pretends to look for a lost dog, or even pretends to be Rover sitting down, lying down, and rolling over, your little one is exploring and developing pretend play.

 

Everyday Connection: A box is a box—unless it’s not. A box may be a box to you, but to your child it can be a computer, a car, an elevator, or a baby bed. Before heading to the recycle bin, encourage your child’s pretend play with an empty box or a paper towel tube.

Building Vocabulary

Do you remember the first time your child said your name (or something that closely resembled your name)? Your heart melted a little bit, didn’t it? Then, you probably encouraged your child to say your name again and again, while repeating your name and pointing to yourself—all while holding a camera inches from your baby’s face. You instinctively created a contextual learning experience for your child when you supported the use of your baby’s new word in this way.

 

Now, as a toddler, your little one has probably moved beyond just saying your name. However, contextual learning—talking about and naming an object during an interaction with that object—remains a key way your child learns new words. In Kindermusik, we intentionally include contextual learning activities that support your child’s language development skills. So, when we talk about our hands or fingers, move them in different ways, gaze into mirrors and talk about what we see, or even sing about shaking out our tummies, your toddler builds vocabulary in a meaningful—and personal—way.

 

Everyday Connection: Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Washing Knees in the Tub! During bath time, label your child’s body parts as you bathe your little one. For older toddlers, try mixing up the names. “I’m washing your toes” (while you scrub your little one’s belly). Your child will love correcting your “mistake.” Plus, all this fun helps your child learn new words.

Gross-Motor Skills

New parents tend to invest in tons of baby gear—a Moses basket, a buggy, a baby swing, a bouncy seat, a car seat, and, of course, nappies, nappies, and more nappies. Sometime around the one-year mark, though, parents realise that they need to invest in one more vital item: a good pair of shoes…for themselves. When you have a toddler, it sometimes feels like you’re never ever going to have the chance to sit down again. After all, toddlers love to be on the go and are constantly looking for ways to try out their developing gross-motor skills—walking, running, hopping, and even climbing stairs and furniture. (Yikes!)

We get it. Toddlers learn to move and move to learn. It’s exhausting for parents, but crucial for kids. That’s why we’re so focused on movement in Kindermusik class. We stomp hello at the beginning of the lesson, fly like birds, stand and stretch our arms high like trees, and dance around the room to strengthen and refine the children’s gross-motor skills. All this movement also stimulates the release of brain chemicals that support memory and learning! And the best news for you: no shoes required.

 Everyday Connection: I got moves like…. Put on some music and play the “I got moves like…” game. Name an animal and ask your toddler to move like that animal. Then, switch it round and name different ways to move: walk, hop, march, twirl, crawl, gallop, and more!

Empathy

The signs are all there. The glazed eyes, unwashed hair, clothes with stains of undetermined origin, and a nappy bag the size of a small country. First-time parents of a newborn certainly stand out in a crowd. As an “experienced” parent of a toddler, you can empathise with those new parents. It’s why you may let them go ahead of you in line, smile encouragingly, say a kind word in passing, or even bring them dinner. After all, you survived it and your empathy helps a new parent feel like they will, too!

 

Over the years, you learned how to understand another person’s feelings and to respond with care and concern. Now, as a parent, you model for your child how to do the same. Even a young toddler can begin to show empathy by offering a stuffed animal to an upset child or by giving you a hug when you seem sad. In Kindermusik, we give your child plenty of opportunities to discuss, explore, and understand a wide range of feelings and to practice kind behavior in a safe and loving environment. So each time your child experiences happiness when singing a favorite song or sees another child’s frustration when it’s “egg shakers away” time, you are supporting your little one’s development of empathy.

 

Everyday Connection: Feelings nothing more than feelings.

Throughout the day, label your child’s feelings and the feelings of others. “I see you feel happy when you listen to your favourite song.” “It looks like you feel angry that I said you couldn’t eat a biscuit for breakfast.” Recognising your child’s emotions and giving your child the words needed to express and identify emotions helps to build empathy.