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?"