The Power of Singing to Kids

Father and daughter singing together into wooden spoons.

On one of our puppy’s first car rides, he began to whimper and tremble in distress.

“Try singing to him,” suggested my 7-year-old. And so I began to hum “Baby Mine,” a lullaby I have sung to my children every night since they were born. It’s what I sing when they wake up to nighttime thunder at 3am. It’s what I sing when they are sick and need some extra soothing. Sometimes I even catch myself humming it to myself before I give a presentation.

And as my son predicted, my puppy settled down by the second verse.

It’s not that particular song that’s special — it’s simply that act of singing. As Dr. Anita Collins, author of “The Music Advantage: How Music Helps Your Child Develop Learn and Thrive,” told me, “Song is our very first language, and it is an incredible mechanism to connect with babies and other human beings.”

Here are three reasons we should sing to our kids.

1. Sing to build connection.

Don’t worry if you can carry a tune, Collins said. “Your baby doesn’t care. They are picking up that you are a safe person, that you are a person they are connected to. You are your baby’s favorite rockstar.”

There’s a reason we instinctively use sing-song sounds with young children. Before they learn speech, they learn sounds — and melody is highly appealing to young children. Think about how kids light up when we do song-based finger plays with them, such as “Five Little Monkeys” or “Where is Thumbkin.” Preschool and children’s librarians know that an engaging opening song can grab kids’ attention and quickly build a sense of togetherness. Schools and faith traditions use songs to foster community. And a family dance party or karaoke night is a great way to get the wiggles out and make memories.

2. Sing to support brain development.

Nina Kraus is a neurologist who has spent years studying the effects of music on the brain. When it comes to helping kids develop the skills they need to learn, “music is the jackpot,” she told me. According to her research, music builds attention, working memory, and language development. It’s also highly motivating and emotionally satisfying, which is also key to learning.

And before kids ever take a music class, simply singing to them, rocking them, and bouncing them really pays off. Rhythm is directly linked with learning how to read. In fact, school-age children who struggle with keeping a beat are more likely to have reading challenges.

“Strengthening one’s rhythm skills, which is something that music does inherently, creates a biological foundation that helps with language and literacy,” Kraus said. When we sing to our kids, their brain is exposed to sounds, rhythms, and rhymes that are the building blocks of reading.

3. Sing to teach routines and skills.

If I asked you to recite the alphabet, chances are you would sing it to me. If you can recite all fifty states, you might have had an elementary school teacher who taught you a song about it. And there’s a reason every “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” episode contains a strategy song. Songs are memorable! Kids are still developing their executive function skills — including working memory — so putting a routine to music makes it easier for them to remember.

Singing to and making music with our kids is a winner. It builds connections, enhances feelings of safety, promotes brain development, and teaches skills. So don’t worry about the quality of your vocals. You really are your child’s favorite rockstar.

-Reposted from PBS; written by Deborah Farmer Kris

Music Matters

As we see school budgets being slashed, often one of the first things to get cut is music. This is unfortunate and will be to the detriment of students because music is not elective. Music is core.

Music is one of the most amazing ways to experience the world. Humans are able to appreciate music even from birth. Has your nighttime lullaby singing ever soothed your fussy infant? Has a favorite album played in the car ever quieted your restless toddler? Before infants learn to speak they are able to express themselves and respond to emotional stimuli through music.

This is why it is so crucial that children have access to musical instruments from the earliest days of their development so that they can explore the possibilities of self-expression through sound.

This musical experimentation helps them develop fine and gross motor skills. It helps them with emotional awareness. It gives them a sense of confidence and individuality as they explore different ways to play an instrument.

All these experiences are present in every single Kindermusik class. From our foundations classes for babies all the way up for our more advanced music education classes for our 5-7 year olds.

The intellectual and technical skills practised through learning an instrument benefit children in other areas. Children who begin to learn reading music at an early age typically do better in core subjects such as mathematics and literacy during their primary school years. This head start can set them on the path to lifelong academic success, as well as providing them with the foundations for a skill which can be developed throughout childhood and enjoyed in later life.

A musical start in life is a smart start. A musical start is a joyful start. A musical start is a beneficial start. The benefits roll in from the earliest of days and can continue through a person’s lifespan.

This is the why of Kindermusik. This is why Song of the Heart Studios exists. To bring the benefits of music to you, to your families, to your lives. It is our hope that your time here in our studio will set your children on a path of musical experiences, abilities, and appreciation that will last them for many years to come. The investment you are making now will pay dividends long into the future.

But as beneficial as it is to your child’s development, an immediate benefit is the joy and connection it brings to you both NOW. We hope every day that you join in with us is a day we bring you delight.

Now let’s make some more music together.

Congrats Grads!

It’s that time of year again! We are SO PROUD of our Kindermusik graduates. They have worked hard this year learning their instruments during a peculiar time. Some students learned online at home, others came to the classroom. It was very challenging learning with the hurdles they faced this year and they did amazing!

Last year we had a virtual graduation. We were so glad to be back in person for our graduation this year. It was distanced and different than in the past, but the one thing we’ve learned from this last year is to be flexible and adaptable.

We kicked things off with a Kindermusik Fiesta, including tacos, a sombrero dance, and a piñata.

Each graduate was able to share with the class and parents what their favorite part of Kindermusik was. It was wonderful to hear them each speak and they all looked so adorable in their purple mortar boards.

It is such an honor to be able to have been a part of your child’s early development. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for allowing us to foster a love and understanding of music in them. Now they are ready to SOAR in their future instrument studies. Come back and visit so we can watch them grow. We will miss you, Music Friends!

Screen Time Can Boost Development in a COVID-Era World

 

3 Ways Screen Time Boosts Development in a COVID-Era World

For years, parents have been advised to limit screen time. We’re all aware of the limits suggested by organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and families try hard to follow them.

But then…a pandemic hit, and the world turned upside down. Routines and rules changed, and technology was recast as a positive necessity.

In the wake of COVID-19, researchers/authors Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross found that of their three classes of digital parents(Embracers, Balancers, Resistors), “complete resistance” became nearly impossible. Who can completely resist technology?

Many little ones can only see their extended family members via FaceTime. School-aged children must use technology to continue learning. Stressed out families need to relax together, and watching a wholesome movie is a great option. But when you add up all of that screen time, isn’t it alarming?

Siblings look at content on a smartphone together. While screen time should be closely monitored, it can have major benefits to early development.

Screen time experts say…”Relax.”

As times have changed, so have guidelines. In March, the AAP released a statement about technology use. What’s missing from this statement are any guidelines around technology time limits for young children.

That was a deliberate choice—there’s not a “one size fits all” standard anymore. Instead, the focus is on what Dr. Jenny Radesky (one of the writers) calls the Three C’s: Child, Content, and Context.

In a nutshell, trust yourself.

Parents know their children better than anyone else does. You also know the content you value and when it’s appropriate to incorporate it into your family routines.

According to Livingstone and Blume-Ross, the important question to ask isn’t “How much screen time?” It’s “How do we want to live, and how does technology fit in?”

Here are 3 ways you can use screen time to boost early development in a COVID-era world:

1. Stay in Touch with Loved Ones

Staying connected is one of the most important things we can do for everyone’s mental health (especially when it comes to children), even in quarantine.

The AAP reminds us that children are more likely to thrive when they are able to see friends and family—even if it’s on a screen. Connection is key to fostering positive social-emotional skills, which is an essential part of early childhood development.

2. Create Memorable Shared Moments

At Kindermusik, we believe one of the best ways to stay connected is to enjoy shared musical moments. Keep those scheduled virtual family chats going, but mix them up by singing favorite songs together and maybe even start a weekly family dance party!

Need some help? Grab our free Kindermusik app (download it on the Apple Store or Google Play), and find something everyone will love. And don’t watch the clock! You’ll be moving, grooving, and making memories, so it doesn’t count as actual “screen time.”

3. Sign Up for LIVE Virtual Classes

To capitalize on early developmental benefits through digital instruction, sign up for live virtual classes, like the ones Kindermusik offers!

Digital instruction is on the rise, but in order to really capitalize on early development and social-emotional benefits, choose live, interactive virtual classes. This type of setting allows you to share learning experiences, conversations, and even laughter with other families. Trust us, children can tell the difference between when a teacher is actually asking them a question, and when it’s a recording.

At Song of the Heart Studios, ALL our classes have an in-person and a LIVE VIRTUAL option, so that you can connect with your class family and still have the Kindermusik experience at home. You can keep the JOY and CONNECTION and GROWTH happening from the safety of your living room.

On that note, take a deep breath, and use technology when it makes sense for your family.

-Reposted with edits from Kindermusik International