One Small Change for Preschool Teachers, One Giant Leap for Preschoolers’ Math Abilities

preschoolers and mathWhen a researcher sets out to understand how children learn, or better yet, don’t learn math, some interesting information comes to light, especially when the research focuses in on the early years when preschoolers are just beginning to be introduced to fundamental mathematical concepts.  Such was the case in a recent study conducted by Dr. Nicole McNeil and her team at the University of Notre Dame.

What the researchers found was interesting.  How the concepts were presented and labeled had a significant impact on how well the children understood and applied the concepts. 

Something minor, which in this study was giving the mathematical patterns an abstract label (i.e., A, B, A, B) instead of a concrete label (i.e., naming the colors in the pattern), was actually very major.  The children in the study who worked with the abstract levels solved more problems correctly than the children who worked with the concrete labels.

More than abstract or concrete labeling, the key finding in this study was this:

…[E]ven differences in relatively specific, microlevel factors can affect how children understand certain concepts. I think this means that we need to be very purposeful about structuring lessons and our instructional input to ensure that we are setting children up to construct an understanding of the most important concepts.

A small change in planning and presentation, but a giant leap indeed for children’s understanding and success in learning.

Want to learn more about learning and teaching math through music?  Take a look at our free e-books.

To the Mom Who Showed Up Late to Music Class

I saw you today.

Yes. You!

Did you really think that you could slip in unnoticed after class already started? We had finished all the rounds of the “Hello” song and just transitioned into rhythm sticks when you and your child walked into the classroom. You held your head down trying to avoid eye contact, but your little one didn’t even think about feeling embarrassed for arriving late. Instead, she burst through the door ready to make music with her friends.Rhythm sticks

But I saw you.

Did you see me?

I smiled. Big Time. Could you guess that behind my smile I said a cheer for you: “You made it! Woo-Hoo! Good for you!”

It doesn’t matter what time the clock reads. It matters that you came. After all, time takes on a different meaning when a child enters your life. Every parent learns that lesson sooner or later. We’ve all experienced one or two (or all of these!) reasons for being late somewhere:

A Few Reasons Kids Make Us Late

  • As soon as you dress your infant and strap her in the carrier she experiences her first diaper explosion—the kind your BFF warned you about—and the one you didn’t believe because she tends to exaggerate. After the shock wears off, you spend the next 30 minutes cleaning up your baby, your car, and yourself.
  • Your child refuses to get dressed in anything other than his Buzz Lightyear pajamas, except said PJs are stained with who knows what and two sizes too small. After 20 minutes of intense negotiations, you arrive at a compromise of last year’s Scooby Doo Halloween costume, which is only a slightly better option.
  • It takes your toddler 13 minutes to walk 10 steps to the car. She keeps stopping to investigate something spectacular—a rock, an old piece of chalk left in the rain, an ant. When you attempt to spur her on down the path, it sparks an epic meltdown on full display of the elderly couple next door. After 8 minutes, your child forgets the root of her despair and happily gets in the car.
  • Ten minutes before you need to leave for class your child FINALLY decides to take a nap. You debate letting him sleep to help ward off the evening drama guaranteed to happen on “no nap” days. You opt to shorten the nap by letting him sleep 20 minutes instead of his usual 30 minutes…which means you are 10 minutes later for class. You hope a short nap is better than no nap, but only time will tell.
  • YOU take a nap. Hey! Parenting is EXHAUSTING…as in “will-I-ever-sleep-again exhausting.” You needed that nap because you know you will be up three times between your child’s bedtime and 630am.

So, while your reason for arriving late may not be listed above, it’s okay. You are welcomed whether you show up early, on time, late, or not at all on some days. We understand. It’s why I wasn’t the only one who noticed you arriving late. The other parents did, too. We all widened the circle to include you. After all, we are a family and that’s what family does.

Kindermusik Class Toddler

Do you want to join a community of other families who understand what it’s like to be a parent today? Find a class near you!

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer in the Atlanta area. Through the years, she arrived late countless times to Kindermusik class (for all of the reasons listed above).

The 9 Best Kindermusik Activities to Do at Home

Music activities at home with young children

From class to home and back again!  The value and impact of a music class increases exponentially when the music, concepts, and activities enjoyed in class are also incorporated into everyday family life.  It’s easier than you might think to make the connection between class and home even stronger.

The 8 Best Kindermusik Activities to Do at Home

#1 – Sing Hello and Goodbye (Good Night).
Sing the Hello song each morning when your child wakes up.  Change the word “goodbye” to “good night” and the goodbye song becomes part of a sweet, soothing bedtime ritual.

#2 – Dance together.
After a diaper change, on a rainy day when you’re stuck inside, or while you’re waiting on supper to cook, turn on your Kindermusik songs and dance together.  You can also do a slow, cuddly waltz together just before nap time or bedtime as a way to connect and relax before putting your child to sleep.

#3 – Try an indoor hammock.
Save out one big towel from the clean laundry you’re folding and before putting it away, rock your child in a towel hammock (two adults required) as you play some gentle music or sing a loving lullaby.  For more about hammocking, click here.

#4 – Take your child on a hayride.
That same towel you hammocked with easily transforms into a swervy-curvy, silly-willy kind of indoor hayride.  Simply have your child sit or lay on the towel, then pick up the end closest to his/her head.  Then pull them down the hall and around the room.  Add some music for a little extra fun and movement inspiration.

#5 – Sing in the car together.
If you want your child to love being in the car or running errands, turn car time into singing time.  Your child can teach you songs he/she learned in music class, or you can both enjoy a sing-a-long with your music download or CD from class.

#6 – Do the “Johnny & Katie” fingerplay.
This one is fun!  Starting with the pinky, say “Johnny, Johnny…” while tapping each finger.  Say whoops as you slide down from the pointer to the thumb, tap the thumb (saying “Johnny”), then head back to the pinky saying “Johnny” every time you tap a finger.  Next say “Katie” on each finger.  The fingerplay can go on from there with Daddy, sister, brother, Grandma, Grandpa, aunt, cousin, and more!

#7 – Start a family band.
Pots, pans, bowls, wooden utensils, cups, and spoons can all be the instruments for an impromptu band.  Accompany yourselves as you sing, or do a play-along with the recordings your favorite Kindermusik songs from class.

#8 – Read together.
The Kindermusik library stories your child hears in class during Story Time are available when you login to your @Home Materials.  You’ll enjoy the common shared experience, having something new to read, and knowing that you’re doing a world of good for your child’s literacy,

#9 – Rock together.
Nothing says “I love you” quite like being cuddled and sung to, and those lullaby-laced memories will put an emotional bond around your child’s heart that they will remember forever.  We highly recommend a lullaby and some rocking before bedtime every night!  (And if it’s hard for your child to get going in the morning, singing and rocking together can ease that transition too.)

These are 8 simple ideas with big emotional impact – ideas that also connect class to home and make the learning that much more powerful too.

friends around the world - cartoon illustrationKindermusik teachers all around the world love helping families make the class-to-home connections every week.  But did you know that Kindermusik also offers a curriculum for schools that intentionally includes parent materials to easily connect the classroom to the living room? Find out more.

– Shared by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program is located at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC.

4 Lesser Known Childhood Milestones Worth Celebrating

Developmental milestones exist for good reason and can be a great help, but “pushing” for development will only cause stress for everyone. Here are some “milestones” that are just as important, but parents may not have thought to celebrate.

Milestone: Your child pretends to have a snack with their teddy bear.

What it means: Exhibiting pretend behaviors may seem like no big deal, but are actually early signs that your child has acquired symbolic reasoning (e.g., putting an empty spoon to your mouth is not eating, but represents eating.)

Milestone: Your child deliberately turns a bowl of cereal upside down.

What it means: Your child is developing wrist control, which is necessary for just about everything we do with our hands.

Milestone: Your child’s new favorite toy? A pop-up toy.

What it means: Your child has figured out, When I push that button, something will pop up! In other words, cause-and-effect, or I can make something happen.

Milestone: You say, Don’t touch! And your child doesn’t touch!

What it means: Your child is learning self-control! At long last, they understand that they are in charge of their own wants and actions, and can exercise (some) control over their impulses.

Milestone: Your child is obsessed with pushing, pulling, and throwing.

What it means: Your child is discovering the properties of weight, size, force, and mass. They are investigating questions of science, including which things do what and how.

Village baby with new logoLooking for more child development information? Every Kindermusik class comes complete with materials and information—just like this—that gives parents insight into their child’s development. Find a class near you!

Happy Hammock Day!

baby boy in hammock blanketToday is a special day… it’s Happy Hammock Day!  A time to celebrate the feel-good joy of hammocking. No hammock, you say? We have a simple solution. A solution if you’re under the age of 5, that is. Two adults holding a beach towel or thick blanket makes for the perfect kid-sized hammock.

But why exactly would you choose to celebrate Happy Hammock Day today or any day? That’s because there are all kinds of benefits to hammocking, which is actually just a type of rocking.

There are many reasons why it’s good to rock, and by rocking, to stimulate the vestibular system. We talk a lot about the vestibular system’s function in controlling balance and coordination. But the vestibular system also coordinates information in the ear, eyes, muscles, hands, feet, and skin. It also helps adjust heart rate, blood pressure, and immune responses… just to name a few! And when the vestibular system is activated, it helps the brain make new learning connections.  Who knew rocking – and the vestibular system – could accomplish all that??!!

Happy Hammock Day to all, and to all some good rocking!

We’d love to see how your family celebrates Hammock Day! Post a photo on social media with the tag: #KindermusikHammockDay

baby boy in a hammock