Later, we had a great deal of fun with my multilingual family, comparing animal sounds in different languages. My father-in-law is from Lebanon, my mother-in-law descended from Polish immigrants, and I am Russian. Our family, being so culturally and linguistically diverse, sure has lots of benefits, yet at times it can be a little too much to process for a toddler’s mind. In order to avoid future misunderstandings, I had to resolve the linguistic and phonetic dispute about animals from various regions of the world once and for all. Naturally, it must be done in a fun and creative way, so that all parties would accept this new multicultural “animal sound” language as quickly as possible. What was my method? You guessed it! Music was my savior once again!
Recently, I agreed to babysit my friends’ toddler boy. This was going to be easy breezy. I’ve babysat my nephews and niece, I’ve babysat for my friends and for the friends of my friends, I’ve even babysat triplets, I am a pro babysitter and have seen it all. My system is simple but effective. Change the diaper: Check. Feed him yogurt: Check. Give him water: Check. Clean the vomit: Check. Wait what?!? His parents warned me that he suffers from two troubling maladies, severe separation anxiety and GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease). "He's going to cry until he starts to vomit, and then he'll vomit until... Well, until I come back,” said his mother with little doubt in her voice.
If there is one maxim in motherhood, it is: There are no uneventful days! A new day brings forth a new challenge. Today’s test had my toddler, Anna, turning naptime into hyperactivity time! Parents familiar with the napless toddler will anticipate the looming disaster. Wiggling and giggling on the bed, Anna’s cards were laid on the table revealing an endless “crankyorama” that was to come. Panicking, my mind scrambled for solutions. Can I stop the inevitable struggle? Of course I could “plug her in” to the TV or laptop, and hope that Elmo or one of his furry friends would provide relief, but I knew all too well that this remedy would be short lived. Besides, screen time stimulates too, and the last thing I need is to energize an overtired child. Naptime has passed, should I still let her snooze when she winds down? No, not an option either - it would totally ruin her, my, our night and subsequent schedule. Then, a light bulb flickered; once again Kindermusik to the rescue! Extended quiet time? We can do that! If it only results in a few minutes break, it may be enough to restore my sanity.
We are 6 weeks into a new semester of Kindermusik classes and the magic is starting to happen. I love this time in the semester, because I witness the enormous benefits that age-appropriate exposure to musical activities means for a child. It takes time and repetition for all the learning to be absorbed and processed in your child's rapidly growing brain.
You see, Kindermusik is not about instant gratification. In this day and age of ubiquitous immediate rewards, that may be difficult for some parents to swallow. But you can't just press a button and have immediate delivery of the life-long benefits that Kindermusik provides. It takes a little time and patience to tease out the magic.
Communicating with a child who has a speech delay can be challenging, especially when she needs something but can’t verbalize it. Did you know that incorporating music into regular interactions might help? Many researchers believe that music activates the entire brain, connecting the right and left hemispheres. A study conducted in 2010 found that children who received music therapy showed an improved understanding of speech, cognitive structures, and even level of intelligence.
Rachel Arnston, a speech-language pathologist, uses music as an essential tool to help children overcome their speech delays. In a guest post on smartspeechtherapy.com, she explains that children respond better to higher pitch and extended vowels in speech, which mimics aspects of music that are valuable to kids with speech delays. Here are some of her tips for utilizing music at home.
As a mom, you are the first person your child bonds with. You are also a teacher, role model, and protector. You want the best for your little one, and strive to create a safe and loving environment that will stimulate learning and independence. What if there was a place to help you do just that? A place where you'll meet new friends, learn about your child's developmental stages, and be encouraged to learn right alongside your child as you create memories together.
Our Mommy and Me Kindermusik classes come with extra special benefits:
We often talk about how wonderful music is for our little ones. It helps them develop early literacy skills, enhances their imaginations, and it's just plain fun. But we don't always talk about how music makes parenting easier.
Here are three reasons that Kindermusik is good for moms (and dads), too:
Music add fun to everyday chores. Parents and kids together can sing a special "clean-up" song that makes putting toys away into a fun activity. Or, while you're brushing your kid's teeth, try singing this song to the tune of "Row your boat." Make up silly additional verses as you brush along!
Your car is packed with kids of all sizes. You've got the birthday presents, ballet shoes, soccer jerseys and hockey sticks in the trunk, and for a moment you can't even remember which of these kids activities you're headed to first! If many days you find yourself a frazzled parent, spread too thin, your children might not be benefiting from your efforts as much as you think.
Considering recent studies, it may be worth looking into a paradigm shift around the topic of parenting and over-programmed kids. A new movement encourages families to take more quality time with their children. This “Slow Parenting Movement” also calls to question extensive use of technological tools, and exposure to digital stimulus.
A generation of Americans grew up learning the preamble to the Constitution, the times tables, and the difference between adjectives and adverbs, by singing along to Schoolhouse Rock. It wasn't just that the cartoons were cute or that the tunes were catchy. Dr. Nina Kraus did a survey that proved giving children music lessons led to superior reading scores. She said, "We are finding that musical training can ...create a better learner." A Canadian study some years earlier came to the same conclusion: children who took music lessons performed better on tests of memory, literacy and mathematics. Another study by Dr. Kraus strongly suggested that moving in times to a steady beat is closely linked to stronger language skills.
Music is a powerful part of everyday life. It is enjoyable to listen to and also provides a sense of calm when a person enjoys it. However, there are also great health benefits to music as well. According to PBS, music stimulates the brain and it has been shown that it can help those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Because music is so helpful when it comes to memory, it is a fantastic tool to use with our children as well. One of the best ways to introduce music to your children is through music and movement classes like Kindermusik. Music has been shown to increase test scores and grades in children and can actually improve their intelligence ratings. It is specifically helpful with spatial reasoning, math and reading.
In parenting, one of the greatest daily challenges comes from the need to transition. Simple transitions for adults, such as getting from one's living room to the car, can become an enormous and dramatic scene when kids and car-seats are involved, ending with the parent feeling drained and the child upset. By putting the transition to a soundtrack, the rough edges and heartbreaking cries of our most treasured little angels can be alleviated, sometimes as quickly as the time it takes to sing a few notes of a song, or the opening phrase of a chant.
Did you know... There are numerous studies linking music instruction to higher literacy development in children?
A study by Butzlaff involving more than 500,000 students found a "strong and reliable association" between music instruction and scores on tests of reading comprehension.
Kindermusik recognizes this correlation, and we work hard to create an environment where young children are exposed to numerous language and literacy-rich musical activities. The rich musical experience of a Kindermusik classroom is exactly what your child needs to help develop her literacy skills.
Scaffolding - an engaging way to help your baby, toddler and preschooler learn
What is scaffolding?
The term scaffolding brings to mind the image of "a temporary or movable platform or a supporting framework"
Did you know that scaffolding also applies to parenting? You are your child's support. By incorporating scaffolding when engaging with your child, you will not only help build your child's skills, you will also foster their budding self-confidence. You are your child's best teacher - their best vehicle for helping to build their minds.
When I tell parents in class that we are going to work on inhibitory control, which helps their child learn to control their bodies, they smile, nod their heads, and some say, “boy does my kiddo need help with this!"
"Control of the body is the first kind of control children have over themselves and is the first step toward development of internal control or "self discipline." Activities that encourage the child to focus, listen, then react through movement or non-movement develop a strong sense of internal control."
Dance for Young Children by Sue Stinton
Children are all born with a predisposition to be mesmerized by steady beat. In the womb they are constantly exposed to the even cadence of their mother’s heartbeat. It’s no wonder few things are more comforting for little ones than snuggling up to mother’s chest to be lulled by that rhythm again.
In Kindermusik we understand the multi-faceted benefits of steady beat exploration. In our baby music classes, we do purposeful activities that expose baby's body to steady beat exercises. Even at a very young age their bodies begin to internalize the beat, and with repetition their minds start to gain the ability to organize time and space. The development and subsequent expression of this skill is so important to a child’s physical, intellectual, and even social development. Let’s take a moment to explore just how steady beat really makes a difference.
I am always amazed that during Quiet Time, we can actually get two year olds to stop what they are doing and lie quietly for 2-3 minutes. It’s a learning process, for sure, but after a couple of weeks, you can usually hear nothing but the music in a room which, just minutes before, was full of the whirling-dervish, all-out-energy of 2-3 year olds. As I watch them resting by their caretaker, I see an occasional head pop up to send a smile to me or a friend but the majority of the time is spent quietly snuggling or whispering to their grown-up. Class routine and peer/parent modeling show the little ones what this time means.
A wave hello, a shoulder shrug, a wink of the eye.....non-verbal communication enhances and even changes the meaning of language. It can be as simple as saying ”come here” with outstretched arms versus simply saying, “come here”. We use it all the time.
As your baby’s awareness expands, his previously used system of vocalizations and non-specific body movements becomes inadequate to express wants and needs. And to our delight, our baby begins to use a more conventional system of communication, one that uses more specific movements and vocalizations ....that of gestures.
Children are fascinating. And they are even more fascinating to observe when learning is involved. Small babies show recognition when the familiar “Hello” song starts or when we sing a song they have heard many times before. Toddlers, who are beginning to assert their independence, stop in response to the American Sign Language sign for “stop”. And when it’s Quiet Time, a class full of rambunctious two year old boys lie down beside their grown-up and do nothing for 2-3 minutes. It’s amazing. And why do they react in these ways that seem mature beyond their age? I feel it’s the scientific power of music.
"Music education is exercise for the brain" - Anita Collins, PhD in Neuroscience and Music Education
In the TEDx video below, Anita Collins shares how learning music influences brain development and why it is essential for children birth to 7 years of age.
She begins by saying, "What if there was one activity that could improve our cognitive function, help our memory systems to work, help us to learn language, help us to moderate our emotions, help us to solve complex problems, and help our brains to be healthier later in life?"