7 Benefits of Group Music Classes for Toddlers

Times are busy. Commitments are tough. So, what makes a music class for toddlers the right choice for your family?

Research tells us learning that happens in the first three years of life is vital to early brain development. And we also know that when multiple areas of the brain are activated at once, the brain gets a complete workout. Enter Kindermusik…

A Better Organized Brain

What exactly does that mean and why is it important?

Daniel Levitin (a researcher into early childhood music experiences and the brain) found “Musical activity involves nearly every region of the brain that we know about.”  Schlaug and other researchers (2010) claim that the benefits not only result in a better organized brain, but also produce long-lasting change even after the brain has reached its mature self.

A well-organized brain results in learning more easily and a higher level of skills. These benefits not only last for early childhood but lay the foundation for skills that will affect brain growth and formation well into adulthood.

Balance

Better balance comes through making sure the vestibular system is working accurately. The vestibular system is a small set of three semi-circular canals in the middle ear. It is the governor and chief of all sensory input, and allows us to stand, jump, balance on one foot, move in any way, and not be dizzy.

During a Kindermusik class, the vestibular system is connected to every activity, whether it be rocking, balancing on bilibos, or jumping like a rabbit.

Social Skills

Social skills are learned over time and with lots of practice. Reading cues, taking turns, and responding appropriately to other toddlers is an essential step in growing into a balanced adult.

In a group music class, toddlers dance and play instruments with their peers. They get their own instruments and learn to hand them back in a given timeframe. They wait for their turn during circle time. So, opportunities to refine how to interact with and respect others are always at the forefront.

Emotional Intelligence

Toddlers are (appropriately!) egocentric, but they can begin to learn what it means to be sorry, to think of others, and to recognize when others are hurting or sad and how to respond to that.

Kindermusik classes are a wonderful way for your toddler to begin learning those essential skills. Through the help of class interactions and parents or caregivers, they learn to build empathy, which is key to healthy social-emotional growth.

Language Skills

Increased language is one of the biggest benefits of Kindermusik classes for toddlers. At a stage where language is still developing, your toddler gets to hear different sounds, is exposed to a variety of musical styles, and plays with their voice in vocal play. All of these experiences allow your child to process and learn different nuances in sound, and the skills acquired translate to language where the differences between letters is so small.

Math Skills

Math and music share a lot of the same skills in a similar way to music and language.  Children learn skills such as division (as they hear the division of beats between slow and fast notes), counting (as they count the number of instruments they have and learn to count in their books) and categorizing and sorting (as they put instruments back in their correct container).

They eventually learn to count forwards and backwards and other opposite concepts such as fast and slow, high and low, all of which play a huge role in school readiness.

Confidence

Routines within a music class for toddlers encourage self-esteem and confidence, but only at a pace that each child is comfortable. The emotional security of knowing what is coming next helps a child feel more secure.

Plus, children who are shy are given the space to grow in confidence within timeframe. For example, they can slowly venture out to get their instruments for an activity and then return them again. Or they can sing along in a group with the comfort of their special grownup nearby.

You Can Benefit Together.

The best part about a Kindermusik class is that the adults benefit as much as the little ones. You’ll discover community with other parents and caregivers, learn musical tips to help better communicate with your child, and so much more.

If you’re looking to boost brain development in a joyful environment, a group music class might be the perfect way to keep your child (and you!) engaged with learning that sticks.

-Reposted from Kindermusik International

Kindergarten? I’m Not Ready!! How To Prepare Your Child

In the not too distant future looms an important day. It’s almost time for your child to walk through the doors of Kindergarten as a student! Gulp. Take deep breaths. You’re an adult…you can handle this! Let’s focus instead on your child.

IT’S ABOUT MINDSET

The ultimate goal is that Kindergarten is a great experience for your child. An essential component of that is having a positive attitude regarding Kindergarten—one that rubs off easily on your son or daughter. That is best cultivated by maintaining a sunny outlook, being sure to take your child to visit the Kindergarten class and meet the teacher in advance of the first day, getting your child used to following routines, and other practical measures.

IT’S ABOUT THE WHOLE CHILD

But another essential component is doing your best to be sure your child has skills that set him or her up for success.

Remember the deep breathing strategy mentioned above? Try that now. Then read on…carefully.

Here’s the truth. Early Kindergarten success is not so much about reading and math readiness, alphabetical and counting skills. It is about the key characteristics Kindergarten teachers wish every child displayed:

  • Expressing feelings in healthy ways.
  • Displaying empathy.
  • Understanding and readily following direction.
  • Taking turns and sharing when playing with other children.
  • Practicing self-regulation (by delaying gratification, by stopping an action on demand, by adjusting voice volume to situations, by sitting still in order to pay attention).
  • Showing an interest in learning.

IT’S ABOUT PROVIDING THE RIGHT EXPERIENCES

So how do children get the skills Kindergarten teachers crave for them to have? It’s all about the experiences you provide.

Some of those experiences occur at home. You can give your child developmentally appropriate chores to do and routines to follow … and discuss how well your expectations are being met. You can ask your child to help you complete tasks, expressing your appreciation (and showing patience when small things might take longer to accomplish!). You can talk regularly to your child about how he or she feels. Show your appreciation about those feelings, modeling how to express them in calm ways. You can show your own joy at learning opportunities—whether it’s reading a book, cooking a new kind of food, or trying a new craft together. That joy is contagious.

For other experiences, go outside the home. Seek play opportunities with other children the age of your child. Find public library, museum, and recreational park activities to participate in. Join classes that focus on the well-being of the whole child.

Kindermusik classes, for example—that begin for babies and their parents and carry on through age 7—have all of the key skills for children baked into their lessons. Kindermusik music and movement classes offer natural ways to: reinforce self-regulation skills, highlight healthy expression of feelings, provide interactions with other children and parents, and set expectations for children to follow directions. For these reasons, many Kindermusik educators hear from elementary school teachers how appreciative they are when Kindermusik children enter their classrooms.

So, stop stressing in anticipation of the day you will try not to cry when saying goodbye to your Kindergartner. Focus on how well that day will go for your son or daughter!

Also helpful: Continuing to breathe. Be confident! The world is waiting to welcome your child.

-Republished from Kindermusik International

Why Shared Musical Experiences with Your Child Are So Important (And Ideas to Implement!)

Parents who seek information about what is best to do for their child—parents like you!—are relieved when an idea can be described as definitively true. It’s even better when that idea involves something that is easy and fun for children and caregivers to do together.

That’s what describes this idea coming out of years of study in Australia:

“…[I]nformal encounters with music at home are critical for young children’s development – with benefits above and beyond those of shared reading. And quite beautifully, the best results are seen when music making is a shared experience between parent and child.”

This statement is highlighted in a December 2017 article about the ongoing research efforts of Professor Margaret Barrett of the University of Australia, Queensland. Barrett began receiving grants to study the different effects of various types of musical exposure on young children in 2001. By 2013, she had honed in on a study called “Being and Becoming Musical.” At that point, Professor Graham Welch, Established Chair of Music Education at the University College London’s Institute of Education, joined her and her team. Data drawn from 3,100 families who participated in the study led the team to this conclusion: “shared music-making at the age of 2–3 years correlates positively with increased school readiness, pro-social skills, and literacy and numeracy outcomes at age 4–5.” That’s some powerful evidence in favor of music!

WHAT DO SHARED MUSICAL EXPERIENCES LOOK LIKE?

The research team included many examples of the types of musical activities parents and children did together. Beyond citing the evidence necessary in a research report, this gives parents some great ideas! Here is a sampling:

  • Parents and children made up simple songs to sing together during routines, such as bath time or meal time.
  • Parents put simple tunes to the words they used to describe what they were doing with children while doing those things—whether it was building with blocks, walking in nature, or dressing to go somewhere. So, rather than simply commenting on how good the warm sun feels, parents might sing about it to a familiar tune like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”: Shiny, shiny sun so high, shiny, shiny in the sky. Thanks for warming us today. You make it nice for us to play. Shiny, shiny sun so high, shiny, shiny in the sky.
  • Parents and children made up movements and danced together while listening to music.
  • Parents and children figured out how to make instruments like rattles and drums using things around the house, then played them together.

One particularly interesting finding stemmed from the fact that the research team was careful to include parents who ranged from “not at all musical” to “play a musical instrument” in the study. No matter what the parents’ musical background or comfort with making music, the shared musical experiences with their children had positive outcomes.

So don’t let any discomfort you might have get in the way of enjoying musical experiences with your child! Music brings joy. Period.

WHAT ELSE WAS INTERESTING ABOUT THE STUDY?

Dr. Barrett and her team became especially fascinated with the idea that purposeful shared musical experiences had a bonus effect…on the parents! She saw clear signs of something she is calling “musical parenting.” She theorizes that music leads to great opportunities for parent-child bonding. She believes it can help to “foster stronger family relationships.” So stay tuned for more research coming out of the Barrett team providing statistical support for this belief!

Meanwhile, don’t let any time pass before making shared musical experiences as important in your family life as reading aloud hopefully already is. You’re already engaging in this way through Kindermusik classes, but don’t forget your Kindermusik Online at-home materials. And enroll now in our Summermusik classes or pick out your Fall class, and keep that music happening year-round.

To learn more about Dr. Barrett and her research, visit: http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/2030

-Reposted from Kindermusik International