Vestibular System: Finding the Right Balance

Destin HarborFor parents with young children, Life Balance is a mythical beast! A hammock gently swaying in a warm ocean breeze as you watch ships leave the harbor or the quiet creaking of a porch swing in the dappled afternoon sunlight can bring thoughts of a little Life Balance in an increasingly complex world. For parents of children under 2, however, the nursery glider moving back and forth at 10:16pm, 2:01am, and 5:34am might be the closest you can get to that beach or front porch. It can work in a pinch though!

All that nursery rocking reinforces balance of a different kind in young children. The rocking, swaying, and movement stimulate children’s vestibular system, the part of the brain that controls balance. In Kindermusik class, we rock to lullabies, bounce on knees, and even make hammocks out of blankets to help young children begin to develop their sense of balance and to reinforce balance and stability in young walkers.

Try this with the swaying activity with the children in your life for a little balance!

This activity supports more than vestibular development. Children also develop vocabulary, language skills, and make emotional connections with a loving caregiver!

Looking for more ideas on how to support the development of your child? Visit a Kindermusik class and get connected with an early childhood expert!

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell a freelance writer in the Atlanta area.

A Song A Day May Keep the Doctor Away

There are all kinds of articles and research out there touting the academic and cognitive benefits of music, but did you know that singing and making music can have significant health benefits as well?

Singing - just what the doctor ordered

Our Top 7 Benefits of Singing and Making Music

1.  When we sing, we take in more oxygen and improve aerobic capacity.

2.  Singing in a group increases the heart rate and reduces blood pressure.

3.  When we participate in musical activities, such as singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, our brains release endorphins, which makes us feel good!

4.  Singing improves blood circulation.

5.  Music can relieve chronic pain.

6.  Singing releases oxytocin, a natural stress reliever.

7.  Singing boosts the immune system.

By the way, if you need a song to sing, we can teach you hundreds of Kindermusik songs to sing and enjoy, whether or not your child is in the car with you.  Now that you know some of the health benefits of singing, you can hold your head high and belt all of the verses to “Wheels on the Bus.”  Just keep your hands on the wheel when you’re singing in the car.  Your child can take care of the motions from the back seat.

And if the singing thing is still a bit daunting to you, no worries.  We’ve got some great tips on how and why to sing to your child HERE.  Or you can join in singing the “Toe-Tappin’ Blues” with these adorable Kindermusik kids.

Kindermusik at Home - Singing with Mom
Want to experience the health benefits of music?  Contact your local Kindermusik educator and schedule a free class visit.

Easy Activity for Teaching Social Studies through Music

bigstockphoto_Little_Girl_Smiling_And_Dancin_592683Understanding and accepting similarities and differences among people is the foundation of Social Studies skills in the early childhood years. Teaching social studies through the arts, including music education, increases children’s understanding and engagement and also gives voice to cultures that may not be reflected in the current classroom or community.

Dancing the way to understanding cultures

“Dancing along” with other families around the world, all doing the same dance movements, helps children understand that in some ways, we are different (e.g., people look, speak, and dress differently in different parts of the world) and in other ways, we are the same (e.g., we all love to sing and dance)!

Mama Paquita is a favorite song and dance among Kindermusik families around the world. Try watching—and dancing along—at home or in the classroom.

Kindermusik@Home

Learn more about using music to teach skills that prepare a child for school.

Want to Teach Kids Empathy? Try Music.

A new study recently found that children who simultaneously participate in a physically engaging, time-based activity feel more positively towards each and can experience greater empathy for one another.

According to the lead author of the study, “[s]ynchrony is like a glue that brings people together — it’s a magical connector for people.”

synchrony on the drums in Kindermusik class

The word “synchrony” is key.  When people interact together in rhythm (or time), that’s synchrony.  And that’s what happens in every Kindermusik class – we tap sticks together, shake bells together, dance together, clap together, and so much more. Synchrony and the joint-collaboration involved explains why the Kindermusik experience is such a powerful one.

This study specifically references music and dance as two of the types of synchronous activities that bring children closer together – the kind of closeness that results in more cooperation and greater empathy for one another. Music and movement in a classroom are a powerful combination, but it’s not just about the academic and cognitive benefits anymore. It’s about all of those benefits and so many more, including the social and emotional benefits.

Simply put, this study emphasizes that allowing children to make music and dance together promotes the kind of pro-social behavior we need in our classrooms and in our society.

“‘The findings might be applied to formulate new strategies for education in our effort to build a more collaborative and empathic future society,’ she said.

“And studying this phenomenon in children is especially important, Rabinowitch added, since the connection between music and social and emotional attitudes manifests itself so early in life.”

Graphic-Learning-Domain-Icons-single-social-emotional-144x144-144x144
Looking for more ideas on how to use music to support the social-emotional development of children? Try our free e-books.

 

Contributed by Theresa Case who loves watching the beauty of synchrony unfold in every Kindermusik class she and her teachers teach at Piano Central Studios in beautiful upstate South Carolina.

Making the Connection: Movement & Second Language Learning

ABC English & Me - Teaching English to Children through MusicWant a child to speak more than one language fluently? Start early! Research shows that when children learn another language at a young age the more likely they are to understand it and speak like a native speaker. It’s never too early to begin learning another language. In fact, evidence indicates that babies have the ability to learn all the languages of the world but self-select to their native language as early as 9 months.

Our EFL Program, ABC English & Me, adopts the “Natural Approach” to support English language learning for very young learners. We emphasize language “acquisition” as opposed to language “processing.” In other words, children learn to speak and think in the second or foreign language.

Learning Another Language through Movement

Movement or Total Physical Control (TPR) coordinates meaning to physical movement. Language acquisition indicates that TPR allows children to internalize meaning and greatly influences fluency.

TPR can be closely related to drama and pretend play. Using drama techniques enhance the quality of TPR activities and prepare children for gross motor movement activities. Here are a three ways we use TPR in our EFL program.

3 Ideas for Using TPR with English Language Learners

  1. Freeze games can be done with children as young as 2. In addition to developing inhibitory control, freeze games promote improvisation skills and children’s ability to act spontaneously especially as they get older.

preschoolerFreeze Game Activity for the Classroom: Have the children spread around the room. Tell them that they can run around the room freely once you clap your hands, but when you shout, “Freeze,” they must stop in their current position. To begin, let the children run around for 30 seconds and then shout “Freeze!” Make sure children hold the position for at least 10-15 seconds before you let them run around again. When focusing on language learning, use simple linguistic phrases to describe what you see: “Andrea is standing up like a tree”or “Olivia is a stone.” Repeat several times.

  1. Miming is great to explore and develop physical skills (movement, actions, posture, gesture, facial expression, and body language). Create and perform mime sequences to develop imaginative skills and the TPR exploration of nouns.

Mime Activity for the Classroom: Use a theme like animals or Christmas presents. Ask children to draw a picture of a noun. Then, take turns miming their words while the rest of the children try to guess the answer.

  1. Fingerplays are ideal for younger children to develop body awareness through identification and labelling of the body parts as well as developing fine motor movement through muscular coordination. As children get older, fingerplays sharpen memory and linguistic skills and is the perfect TPR activity to perform with a lack of space for those big gross motor movements.

We like this fun twist on a classic fingerplay:

The games identified above develop physical movement but also the 4-Cs: confidence, communication, co-ordination and concentration, which are necessary for any child acquiring a new language!

Learn more about using movement and TPR with English Language Learners.