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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 surprise that he was right when he declared that “Play is the highest form of research.” It 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 cot, in the pushchair and in the supermarket trolley, 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 work it out for himself!

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?

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 and avoid crashing into the wall, or navigate around a maze of other skaters to avoid a collision. That’s called spatial awareness, and it’s the ability to comprehend where you are in space and 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 maneuver 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 stands!). 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 maths, and the development of abstract thought.

 

Everyday Connection: Hokey-Pokey at the Store. “You put your toddler in (the trolley), 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.

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, helps babies connect the sounds of words with pictures, provides a natural time to engage in conversations and vocal play, and even models for little ones how to read a book. But 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, such as 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,” label the movements in “I Like to Sing,” and even develop 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 favorite 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.

Empathy

The signs are all there. The glazed eyes, unwashed hair, clothes with stains of undetermined origin, and a changing 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 empathize 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 favourite 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.” Recognizing your child’s emotions and giving your child the words needed to express and identify emotions helps to build empathy.

Contrasts in Movement and Independence in Movement

It’s a well-known fact. No matter how many parents over the years have wished for it and continue to wish for it, toddlers do not come with an on/off (or even a pause!) button. At some point around the one-year mark, a baby turns into a movement machine. Constantly on the go, crawling, standing, wobbling, walking, and, yes, eventually running and jumping everywhere and anywhere—and often away from a parent in a one-sided game of chase! All of this newfound movement is exhilarating for children and a wee bit exhausting for parents. Ah, to hit the pause button for a moment!

 

In Kindermusik class each week, we help channel all that movement energy in a way that fosters your child’s growing independence and gross-motor development, and emphasizes your unique role as your child’s first and best teacher. When we listen to “Toodala” and practice different motions around the room, dance with our scarves using contrasting movements such as high and low or up and down during “Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder,” or even when your child sits (for a moment!) on your lap to bounce to “Pancake Day, Heigh-Ho,” your little one is discovering new ways to move.

 

Everyday Connection: On the Go-Go Dancer. Celebrate your child’s love of being on the go with music. Put on some of your favorite songs and dance, walk, wobble, run, and jump around the house. Mix up the music to include fast and slow, loud and soft, and energetic and calm.

Wiring the Brain for Communication

Do you ever wonder what newborns would say if they could talk? Where am I? What just happened? Who turned on the lights? Whew, that was a lot of work! I’m exhausted. Why is everyone looking at me? Do I have something on my face? Mom! Dad! It’s me! Truth is—most newborns all say the same thing: WaaaaWaaaa! Of course, children aren’t born talking. However, even at birth, a child can usually respond to a mother’s voice, an early sign of communication.

 

Speech and early language development involve both receptive language (what a child hears and understands) and expressive language (what a child says to others through sounds and gestures). Receptive language skills show up first as babies learn to turn toward interesting sounds or respond to tones and even their own names. In class, we provide many opportunities for caregivers and babies to communicate with each other both verbally and nonverbally. So, when we actively listen to the Big Clock Sound, integrate language and movement during “Hickory Dickory, Dock,” or use sign language, your child gains practice hearing words and making connections to their meanings—and all of this heightens your little one’s abilities to communicate with you!

 

Everyday Connection: Cuckoo for Coos. Responding to your child’s first and continued attempts at communication teaches your baby about the give-and-take of conversation. So, go ahead, get face to face with your baby and repeat those smiles, “coos,” “bababababas,” and “mamamamas.”

Social Development

Before Facebook, making friends and maintaining relationships involved more than clicking yes to a “Friend Request” and commenting on the occasional status update. (Well, technically it still does.) To be a good friend, regardless of age, we need to share, use our “kind and polite words,” take turns, show empathy, listen, practice conflict resolution—essentially put into practice all those skills that make a good friend (or colleague, neighbour, spouse, etc).

 

At Kindermusik, we know the first five years of a child’s life present unique and lasting moments for laying the groundwork for healthy social development. Each week in Kindermusik, we provide many opportunities for your child to practice cooperation, turn taking, active listening, paying attention, and other key social development skills that will help your child grow to be a socially confident and adept person. So while you see your child taking turns with a favorite instrument or rolling the ball back and forth with a friend, we see a child practicing social skills that will prepare your child for school—and life—success.

 

Everyday Connection: Friendly Gesture. Children love getting mail. With your child, pick a neighbor with a little one close in age to yours and become pen pals. Draw a picture. Leave a piece of candy or a special rock. Your child will enjoy leaving (and receiving) little reminders of friendship.

Simple Maths—Counting and Patterns

One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, shut the door. Five, six, pick up sticks. Seven, eight, lay them straight. Nine, ten, begin again. You did it, didn’t you? Before you finished reading that nursery rhyme, you found yourself singing it, instead. It’s okay. You probably do that with the ABCs, too. We can relate. It’s how many of us learned those building blocks of maths and reading—through nursery rhymes, songs, and maybe a few dance moves!

 

And now, a generation later, your toddler learns the same way. Like you did, your little one learns to count by rote—a memorizing process using routine and repetition. Learning to count by rote helps your child develop number vocabulary, memory, patterning, and sequence—all foundational skills for maths. So, in Kindermusik classes each week, we give your child many opportunities to practice counting. When we “roll, roll, roll…1, 2, 3” the rainbow shakers, count to three and jump up during the circle dance, or recite numbers while playing with balls, your child practices counting in a fun, engaging way, which reinforces the beginning stages of learning numbers.

 

Everyday Connection: 1, 2, 3, Count with Me! Toddlers love games. Tap into that love to help reluctant toddlers make smoother transitions from one activity to another. Invite your child to play the “1, 2, 3, Count with Me!” game as you count together how many toys to put away, how many steps it takes to get to the bathtub, or even how many people need a plate for dinner.

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.

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 class, 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.

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: Traveling 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

Baby’s World of Patterns  

In Kindermusik, we understand that babies and young children who learn to identify patterns strengthen their sense of safety and feel happier and more relaxed because they can better predict what happens next. Plus, a solid understanding of patterns eventually leads to success in school, especially in maths, science, and reading. Each week in class, your baby experiences patterns through rhythm and meter, tempo contrasts, dances, language and vocal play, and the routine of the lesson flow. So, when your baby giggles and wiggles “going into the kitchen to take a peek” or dances with you to the changing tempos of “Peas and Carrots,” your little one gains a greater understanding of patterns—and the world.

 

Everyday Connection: A little night music. Create a special nighttime playlist filled with soothing lullabies. During your child’s last feeding or at the beginning of the nighttime routine, put on this playlist. The predictable pattern of music each night will help your child recognize the end of the day. Try these Kindermusik favourites

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 realise 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.

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 classes 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, a lift, or a cot. Before putting it in the recycling bin, encourage your child’s pretend play with an empty box or a kitchen paper tube.

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