Alex and Music’s Magic: A Kindermusik Story

Kindermusik Story

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Mark and Kim Elicker and their son Ethan were a wonderful family, but they all had so much more love to give. About six years ago they traveled to China to adopt two year old Alex. This is his story – a story of endless love and musical magic.


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Kindermusik for Ethan

Before Alex came home to his family, Kim, an early childhood educator herself, took her son Ethan to Kindermusik from the time he was a baby until he aged out. Lydia Klinger was their Kindermusik educator and really drew the family in. Kim shares why she choose Kindermusik:

Lydia was the reason we started and fell in love with the program. With Ethan I admit I valued the social benefits of being with other Mom’s and families. As an early childhood educator I connected with the developmental appropriateness of the curriculum. Years later when we adopted Alex, I once again became a stay at home mom and I wanted that connection to other families. I chose Kindermusik again with Alex because I loved it so much with Ethan, but I honestly, remember seeking activities that I believed would foster our bond and attachment.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

The day Alex legally became a member of the Elicker family!
The day Alex legally became a member of the Elicker family!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Alex Comes Home

When Alex came home with the Elickers at age two he wasn’t very verbal. He was a child surrounded by sounds he had never heard. Occasionally, he’d speak a word or two of Mandarin, like mā-ma (mother), bà-ba (father), gē-ge (older brother), and siè-sie (thank you).

Dr. Boyle: When Alex came home with you, how would you describe him?

Kim Elicker: He was quiet and energetic, though when he first came home he didn’t have a lot of stamina. He was curious and resourceful! He could play with a bucket, a box of crayons, and a paper bag. That was just him – he didn’t need anything fancy.

DB: You mentioned he wasn’t very verbal.

KE: He wasn’t. And that’s a typical very typical of children who are adopted into a family who speaks a different language than he was born into.

DB: Right…so what he had been hearing for the first two years of his life, he’s wasn’t hearing that any more and was a completely different environment for him.

KE: Exactly. In our situation, everything changed – what he saw, what he heard, what he smelled, even what touched his skin. It was all very different.

DB: So…you shared with me that on days he was going to Kindermusik, Alex tended to be more verbal.

KE: Yes. In the beginning, receptively he picked up English rather quickly. He was following simple one step directions.

DB: Little kids are sponges.

KE: Yes! But his communication pretty much shut down verbally. We expected that from classes we took before the adoption. His brain was switching gears. We read to him, we talked to him, we engaged him all the time, but he didn’t attempt to speak a lot.

When we started Kindermusik, in the beginning much of it was listening in that particular first program he was in. I noticed his concentration level – his focus – was very intent. He would be very tired those afternoons after Kindermusik in the morning!

By his second set of classes, I started noticing a change. We’d go to Kindermusik, we’d have lunch, and the rest of the day he’d be much more talkative. He’d attempt new words. Anytime he tried new words, it seemed to be on Kindermusik days. Once I noticed the pattern, I really started paying attention to it. It followed this trend for about a year.

DB: And did you take part in the classes with him?

KE: Yes.

DB: That’s great. There’s all this research out there that tells us that because of the way music impacts the brain, when you make music with another person, it builds empathy between you and the other person, it builds trust between you and that other person. You can become more comfortable with that person when you share a musical experience.

KE: That’s an interesting take on my situation. When you are first adopting you need to build trust. That’s part of the attachment process. It’s an interesting thing for me to hear you say – it makes total sense![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Alex and Ethan
Ethan and Alex having fun in the band room.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]DB: Sounds like Kindermusik was an important part of Alex’s process.

KE: Yes! I remember sharing the news of Alex’s increased verbal activity with Lydia, our Kindermusik educator. She said it just gave her chills! She was excited to get that feedback.

DB: I would imagine! Kindermusik is certainly fun with music and movement, but the mission is really to help kids develop socially and emotionally…getting them to interface with other kids and have positive interactions with adults. It helps them move through those developmental domains.

KE: Certainly. And in our case, it was quite obvious because he wasn’t really verbal at all…it was very easy to pick up on when was happening.

DB: It’s just so cool to hear about this – a very specific situation in which music helped a child affected by a rather involved transition find his voice. That’s music reaching parts of the brain that everyday speech or conversation does not. I would imagine that music coupled with music was helpful.

KE: Yes! That was his other area. According to the typical US standard, he would have been lacking in gross motor. Within six months he had caught up. The movement in the class was beneficial.

DB: That’s great. So how long did Alex do Kindermusik?

KE: He was five, almost six when we stopped. When we love something we stick with it![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Kindermusik Educator
Lydia Klinger, the Elicker’s Kindermusik Educator, with Ethan, and guest trumpet player Allen Vizzuti.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Kindermusik was a very important part of the Elickers lives. Ethan, now 15, lives for the trumpet and plays as often as he can. And Alex? He’s going into third grade this fall. He’s taking piano lessons and singing in church. His ultimate goal is to play organ!

Lydia, their Kindermusik Educator, retired after 20 years of serving musical smiles to her community. She now plays with the Harrisburg Symphony. The Elickers still keep in touch with her. Recently, she arranged a meeting with the Symphony’s guest trumpeter, Allen Vizzuti and Ethan.

For the Elickers, participating in Kindermusik classes helped smooth the complex process of an international adoption, helping Alex open up and explore his verbal possibilities in his new language. As an educator, Kim knew exactly what was happening. As a mom, she got to see music work its magic in her son’s young life. Friends, that’s why Kindermusik Educators do what they do. They are in it to change lives.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Ethan prepares to play a duet with a friend.
Alex prepares to play a duet with a friend.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Music Can do THAT? – Learning Languages Through Music

Music enriches our lives in so many ways, but for young children, music is also a very powerful tool for learning. Kindermusik’s English language learning program for young children, Kindermusik English & Me, has been an outstandingly successful and beautifully delightful of teaching children a second language through music, music, stories, rhymes, and more.


 

Kindermusik English and Me

Here are just a few of the amazing ways that music and a music class help children learn another language:

  • Music and movement literally wake up the brain, making it easy to take in, absorb, and remember even more new information.
  • A music class is an immersive environment like no other. The entire class time is filled with English vocabulary, phrases, and patterns of speaking.
  • Music activates more parts of the brain than just speaking can. In fact, music activates both the left and right sides of the brain and gets those neurons firing!
  • Songs and rhymes “stick” in the memory longer than anything else. Kindermusik classes are filled with repetition in class, and the @Home Materials allow parents to review, reinforce, and enjoy those same songs and rhymes at home throughout the week for an even more powerful learning experience.
  • Music acts like a glue that causes all the pieces of learning another language to not just stick, but also stay, together.
  • A music class like Kindermusik gives rich and varied opportunities for children to listen, listen, listen – which sets them up for greater success when they begin speaking the new language.
  • The combination of listening, speaking, and singing in the Kindermusik classroom increases fluency.
  • The joy and delight of an interactive children’s music class fosters a happy motivation to learn, therefore making learning the English language so much easier and more natural.

So whether your little one is just learning to speak or you have a young child who is an English language learner, one of the very best and most effective tools for learning is music.  And here’s a little secret… YOU as the parent will love your Kindermusik too!

Yes, music – and especially Kindermusik! – can do all that!

Super Foods for the Brain: Music & Second-Language Learning

When it comes to healthy eating, some super foods seem to be easier sells to kids than others. Avocados, Bananas, and Greek Yogurt? Yes! Kale, Bok Choy, Edamame…not so much. (Well, maybe with a side of ranch or ketchup.)

Of course, young children need more than super foods for their bodies. They also need super foods for their growing brains, too. Second-language learning and music offer super foods for the brain that children love! (No ranch or ketchup necessary!)

What Happens to the Brains When Kids Learn a Second Language?

When compared to adults, young children use both hemispheres of their brains and gain a greater understanding of a language’s social and emotional contexts. A few other advantages of learning more than one language include higher density of gray matter, more brain activity when engaging in a second language, and better executive function.

This TedX video by Mia Nacamulli explains more benefits of a bilingual brain:

Benefits of Bilingual Brain

 

Music, Multi-sensory Learning, & Language Learning

Around here, we often say music is like spinach disguised as ice cream. After all, music is rich in benefits, yet children gulp it down (and ask for more!) like the best ice cream sundae. Using music as a tool for teaching second-language learning instantly engages children in a multi-sensory learning environment. Take this ABC English & Me video as an example.

The Just Me! music video incorporates a multi-sensory teaching approach to support visual, auditory, and tactile learning:

Just Me Kindermusik@Home

Visual learning happens through seeing. Children can watch the kids in this video waving their hands, pointing to their knees, and touching their toes. The arrows pointing to the various illustrated body parts also aids children’s visual learning.

Auditory learning happens through listening. Children will listen to the song “Head and Shoulders,” which names the parts of the body. Listening to this song over and over will help children learn lots of new vocabulary.

Tactile learning happens through moving, touching, and doing—sometimes called TPR, or Total Physical Response. Children can mimic the movements in this video. Encourage children to point to their nose, touch their shoulders, and to follow along with all the movements in this song!

Learn more about using music to teach young children in English Language Learning Programs or in international schools.

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

Babies Benefit from Learning Two Languages at the Same Time

Baby learning two languagesWe get fired up about the importance of early childhood education. The reason is simple. In the first seven years of a child’s life, their brains are firing up with learning—literally! Every new experience lights up the synapses in the brain and repetition makes those pathways stronger.
At the age of two, a child’s brain includes over a 100 trillion synapses. That’s 50 percent more than we have as adults. While these new connections form rapidly and are strengthened through repetition, the brain also prunes connections not used frequently. This strengthening and deleting that happens in young children’s brains ultimately helps them process thoughts and actions more quickly.

Babies’ brains ripe for learning more than one language

All that action in the brain makes children under the age of 7 the ideal age for engaging in new experiences, including learning more than one language. In fact, new research conducted with six-month-old infants in Singapore indicates a generalized cognitive advantage that emerges early in infants raised in a bilingual home and is not specific to a particular language.
“As adults, learning a second language can be painstaking and laborious,” explained co-author and Associate Professor Leher Singh in a press release. “We sometimes project that difficulty onto our young babies, imagining a state of enormous confusion as two languages jostle for space in their little heads. However, a large number of studies have shown us that babies are uniquely well positioned to take on the challenges of bilingual acquisition and in fact, may benefit from this journey.”
The study found that:

  • The infants raised in a bilingual home become bored with familiar images faster than children brought up in a monolingual home.
  • Those same infants paid more attention to new images when compared to babies living in a monolingual home.

So what does that all mean? According to the press release, previous studies show that a quicker response to familiar objects and interest in new objects can predict preschool developmental outcomes, including non-verbal cognition and expressive and receptive language. Think about it. Children learning two languages at the same time are exposed to the sounds of more than one language and must learn to distinguish between the two. This makes for more—and stronger—neural connections! See why we get fired up for early childhood education?

Rocking the bilingual brain

At Kindermusik, our ELL curriculum, ABC English & Me,  uses songs, story time, puppets, and Total Physical Response for English Language Learning. Research shows that music ABC English & Me - Teaching English to Children through Musichas a positive impact on learning a second language. For example, in class ELL students may hear and repeat the rhythmic language of a nursery rhyme or song multiple times. The repetition creates stronger connections in the brain and helps children learn to speak and later read in English as their English language phonological awareness increases.

Learn more about using music to learn English as a second language at www.Kindermusik.com.

How music helps a teacher and children in Monaco live happily ever after

Munchkins Club Monoco 2Once upon a time, an educator who loved music moved from Milan, Italy, to bring the joy of learning English through music to children in a land faraway. Around the same time, an enchanting place called Monte Carlo Munchkins Club opened its doors to welcome children during their most formative years. As in any great fairytale, the two were destined to meet.

On the way to happily ever after

And, so begins the magical journey of Kindermusik educator Alina Botezatu, who explains in her own words how teaching children is changing her life and theirs!
“I love Kindermusik and seeing how the little curious minds assimilate information like sponges. It took some time to win the children’s trust, but now, as soon as they see me, they hug me and are excited about joining the class. This is such a wonderful feeling for a teacher. 
teaching ELL students“I’ve only been living in Monte Carlo and teaching Kindermusik at the Munchkins Club for a few months but I can already see the children’s progress in so many ways, including:

  • They learn new English words faster.
  • They sing many of the songs with me.
  • They dance and move their bodies in a more balanced way.
  • They know the stories we read together.
  • They have better concentration and listening abilities.
  • They are happy to take turns sharing instruments and helping each other and me during the class.

“It is always a lot of fun to sing and dance together. I’d like to thank my mentor, Laura D’Abbondanza Berryman, for all her invaluable support and my cute friends—the puppets—that make the children laugh and have fun during the lessons!”
Inauguration Monte-Carlo Munchkins Club 2013Of course, what fairytale is complete without a princess? Alina’s story includes Princess Charlene of Monaco, who visited the Munchkins Club to show her support for early childhood education.
We love happy endings. And, with Kindermusik, it is a good beginning with a happy ending that never ends!

Learn more about bringing Kindermusik’s ABC English & Me to your Language School, Nursery School, or Children’s Centre.

7 reasons for children under 7 to learn a second language

Je suis. Tu es. Il est. Nous sommes. If you studied a second language in high school or college, you probably know all about conjugating verbs. As teenagers or adults, learning the grammar rules of another language often form the foundation for second-language learning. However, teaching a second language to children looks completely different. After all, children under the age of 7 can’t read or write. However, young children are uniquely suited to learn another language. Here’s why:

7 reasons for children under 7 to learn another language

  1. Learning a second language under the age of 7 is cognitively as easy as learning a first language. Young children learn languages by listening to the sounds, structures, and intonation patterns around them. So young ELL students learn English the same way they learn their first language.
  2. Young English language learners learn to speak like a native speaker, without an accent.7 reasons for children under 7 to learn a second language
  3. Teaching English as a second language positively impacts the cognitive development in children. According to research, children who learn a second language experience better critical-thinking skills, enhanced spatial relations, and increased creativity when compared to their monolingual peers.
  4. Acquiring second-language fluency prepares children to live and work in a global society.
  5. Young English language learners experience a boost in the language and literacy abilities of their first language, including vocabulary development. Added bonus: this advantage continues to broaden as children grow older.
  6. Children who learn a second language exhibit enhanced attention skills when compared to monolingual peers.
  7. Learning a second language at an early age increases children’s confidence and teaches them to love learning. 

ESL curriculum uses English songs for kids (and more!)

Our ESL curriculum builds on our more than 35 years of teaching young children. Through English songs for kids, story time, movement activities, and puppets, young ELL students learn English in a fun and engaging environment using research-proven methods. Plus, enrollment includes access to Kindermusik@Home where parents can support the English language learning at home where a child can continue to naturally acquire language skills.
Kindermusik@Home ESL activityTry this sample Kindermusik@Home activity. The Just Me! music video incorporates a multi-sensory teaching approach to support visual, auditory, and tactile learning.

Learn more about Kindermusik’s English Language Learning curriculum, ABC English & Me. 

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

 

Music and language share common brain pathways

(Source: http://www.womenshealthmag.com)
(Source: http://www.womenshealthmag.com)

Athletes employ the benefits of music to boost overall performance. Science shows that specific types of music can really get the blood pumping and focus the mind on the task at hand—like 1-minute planks or running those last few miles. However, a new study also shows that music can get the blood pumping for language development, too.
Music and language development on the same path to learning
In two related studies, researchers from the University of Liverpool found that brief musical training can increase the blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain—the same area of the brain responsible for language learning.
The initial study examined the brain activity patterns in musicians and non-musicians as they participated in musical activities and word generation tasks at the same time. The results showed that the musicians’ brains showed similar paths during the activities, but the non-musicians did not.
In the follow-up study, the researchers measured the brain activity patterns of non-musicians who participated in both a word generation task and music perception task. Then, the participants received 30 minutes of musical training and then completed the tasks again. After the musical training, significant similarities were found in the brain.
Amy Spray, who conducted the research, explained in a press release:  “The areas of our brain that process music and language are thought to be shared. Previous research has suggested that musical training can lead to the increased use of the left hemisphere of the brain. This study looked into the modulatory effects that musical training could have on the use of different sides of the brain when performing music and language tasks. It was fascinating to see that the similarities in blood flow signatures can be brought about after just 30 minutes of simple musical training.”
Music and young ELL students
ABC English & Me - Teaching English to Children through MusicWhile the study above focused on adult participants, the results impact English language learners in the early childhood classroom, too.  ABC English & Me, our English Language Learners curriculum, uses ESL activities for kids, words with picture cards, puppets, and English songs for kids to teach young children English. From the first song at the start of each class to the last shake or tap of an instrument, children quickly become engaged in actively learning English through fun, games, and, of course, music!
Plus, we provide materials for families to use together at home. These monthly interactive materials support the classroom learning, while giving parents the tools they need to continue the English language learning at home through music.

Learn more about bringing ABC English & Me and the power of music to your school!

Let’s call the whole thing early language development!

Are you familiar with the old George and Ira Gershwin song, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”? They wrote it for the 1937 film Shall We Dance, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Sing with us:

You like potato and I like potahto

You like tomato and I like tomahto

Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto.

Let’s call the whole thing off.”

 [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ3fjQa5Hls[/youtube]
In the song, the two characters sing about their differences, primarily around the way they pronounce certain words. We love that song (and movie clip) even more after reading a new early language development study from the University of Toronto.

Toddlers and early language development

In the early language development study, researchers set out to investigate if and how children in the early stages of learning their first language come to understand words spoken in different regional variants of their native language. (You like potato and I like potahto!”) For example, English spoken in England sounds different from English spoken in Australia or the United States, not to mention the multiple dialects found within regions of countries.
The team found that toddlers are remarkably good at comprehending speakers who talk with regional accents, even if the accent is new to the children. Although initially in the study, children as young as 15 months old could not comprehend unfamiliar accents, they quickly learned to understand after hearing the speaker for a short time.
“Fifteen-month-olds typically say relatively few words, yet they can learn to understand someone with a completely unfamiliar accent,” explained Elizabeth K. Johnson, associate professor with the University of Toronto’s Psychology department in a press release.  “This shows that infants’ language comprehension abilities are surprisingly sophisticated.”

ELL students and early language development

While the University of Toronto study focused on a toddler’s first language, it highlighted the incredible language-learning abilities of very young children. Children under the age of 8 who learn a second language are more likely to speak like a native speaker and also show marked improvements in their first language. Our ESL curriculum, ABC English & Me, uses English songs for kids in an immersion environment filled with music and movement.  In addition to the ESL curriculum in the classroom, ABC English & Me includes materials for families to use together at home to support a parent’s role as a child’s first teacher and further develop English language skills. Try this ESL activity for kids:

Find & Count: Where’s the Frog? 

Kindermusik@HomeYoung children love to search for hidden or missing items. Following the English language directions in the video, and then finding (and saying hello to!) the frogs, fish, and ducks, provides young ELL students much-needed feelings of mastery and success in English.

Learn more about bringing ABC English & Me and the power of music to your school!

 

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell who prefers tomatoes but will eat a tomahto or two on occasion. 

A whole new rhythm to English Language Learning

Brain on musicWe rock out in our early childhood music classes—literally and figuratively. From our classes for babies, toddlers, big kids or families to our early literacy and language program in preschools, Head Start programs, and daycares to our ELL curriculum, we use the benefits of music to engage children of all abilities in learning. And, we have a lot of fun in the process!
In the first several years of life, the cognitive development of children fires up. Connections in the brain are formed as children engage in new experiences—and repeated multi-sensory activities strengthen those connections. It’s one of the reasons research indicates that it is the critical period for teaching a child another language. Before age 8, children who learn another language are more likely to speak like a native speaker. In fact, young children who learn to speak another language, such as English as a second language, actually reshape the brain, and also strengthen their first language abilities (contrary to a previously debunked myth).

Take a peek inside the brain of bi-lingual children:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhpVd30AJaY[/youtube]

3 reasons to use music and movement in a bilingual curriculum

Musical activities engage all of the senses and stimulate development in every area of the brain. Regardless of a child’s first language, every child speaks music and research shows it positively impacts English language learning, including these three ways:

  1. Music stimulates language learning, builds phonological awareness, and enhances language skills.
  2. Children who learn through movement show a marked improvement in memory.
  3. It’s fun! (Never underestimate the power of fun—and music—when it comes to engaging children!)

Try this activity for young ELL students 

ELL students will love hearing the rhythmic language ofThis Little Car”—over and over Kindermusik@Home ABC Englishagain. And doing so will help them learn to speak, and later read, in English, because this video is full of opportunities for them to increase their English language phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate words, syllables, and sounds in oral language. Research has shown that phonological awareness is one of the strongest predictors of later reading success—in English as well as in many other languages.
ABC English & Me - Teaching English to Children through Music
 

Learn more about our bilingual curriculum…

that meets the EYFS framework in the UK, CEFR developed by the Council of Europe, and TESOL English Language Proficiency Standards for Pre-K.

Changing our world…through music!

There was a fascinating article recently published in Forbes magazine about how one man is using music, and specifically a music school, to shape a new generation in Vietnam.  The title of the article says it all, “Music Awakens Education in Vietnam.”  Nguyen Hong Minh’s vision is to use music to broaden minds, expand opportunities, impact the current culture, and create future leaders – all with a goal of changing his society for the better.  And he believes that he can accomplish his mission through one very powerful means… giving students an opportunity to study music and the performing arts at Erato Music & Performing Arts.
Thailand 3For over 30 years, Kindermusik International has also been committed to a similar mission – that of changing our world through music, one child at a time.  KI’s newest initiative, ABC English & Me, demonstrates the power of music to help children learn, develop, and blossom.  ABC English & Me is a unique and exciting mix of music and movement activities proven to help teach young English language learners while at play.
But like all Kindermusik classes, ABC English & Me is much more than just a weekly class experience.  The fun, music, and learning extend throughout the week at home through interactive @Home Materials that help parents support, enjoy, and enlarge the learning process in the place where children often learn best – at home.

Here are a few simple ways you can change your own little corner of the world through music and make a powerful difference in your child’s life:

  • Expose your children to a wide variety of music.
  • Keep music playing at home and in the car whenever possible.
  • Talk about what you hear in the music, identifying specific instruments or discussing the qualities of the music (fast, slow, loud, soft, etc.).
  • Have age-appropriate musical instruments available for your child to explore and play.
  • Sing and dance together – Your child doesn’t care how good you are, just that you care enough to sing or dance with him!
  • Read books about music to your child.  Here’s a list compiled by an elementary music teacher.
  • Take your children to music performances and concerts.
  • Watch good music and performing arts performances on TV, DVD, or webcast.
  • Inspire a love for music and take advantage of the benefits of music from a very early age – Kindermusik classes are a great place to start!  (You can even try a class for free!)