New Research: Teaching self-regulation increases school readiness

“To researchers’ awe, music and movement experiences help children better self-regulate behavior and enjoy a safe, creative outlet for self-expression. Studies point to a specific cluster of social-emotional skills—called self-regulation skills—as particularly important for a variety of school successes.”  (Dr. Debby Pool, Vice President at Kindermusik International)

According to a new study from Oregon State University co-authored by child development expert Megan McClelland, children with strong self-regulation skills – skills that “help children pay attention, follow directions, stay on task and persist through difficulty” – transition more successfully into Kindergarten.

At-risk children participated in an intervention program that utilized movement and music-based games to help children develop and learn self-regulation skills. These music games were designed to help children learn to stop, think, and then act, three steps that are part of the self-regulation process.

“Most children do just fine in the transition to kindergarten, but 20 to 25 percent of them experience difficulties – those difficulties have a lot to do with self-regulation,” McClelland said. “Any intervention you can develop to make that transition easier can be beneficial.”

Here’s a music and movement game from Kindermusik@Home that gives kids fun practice with those all-important self-regulation skills:

Head and Shoulders 1-2-3Want to learn more about using music in your school to reach children from underserved populations? Visit

Contributed by Kindermusik educator Theresa Case, whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios is located in beautiful upstate South Carolina.




4 ways after-school programs help students who may be at risk

Elementary Curriculum - ABC Music & Me

Elementary Curriculum - ABC Music & MeFor students who may be at risk, school can be a place to eat a warm meal, access and read books, and play safely outside with friends. When the bell rings at the end of the day, many underserved students leave the safety and structure of school for an environment less than ideal. However, quality after-school programs can provide many benefits for children, especially those students who may be most at risk.
The Afterschool Alliance reviewed dozens of studies on after school programs in the United States. The Summary of Formal Evaluations of
 the Academic Impact of Afterschool Programs found four reoccurring themes that showed how an after-school curriculum impacts underserved students.

4 key ways quality after-school program curriculum impacts students who may be at risk

  1. At-risk students who participate in after-school programs show improved school attendance and measurable increases in learning engagement during regular school hours.
  2. At-risk students enrolled in an after-school curriculum improve test scores and grades, including in the areas of literacy and math.
  3. The frequency and duration that students who may be at risk participate in after-school programs is directly correlated to the positive benefits of attendance.
  4. Students at the greatest risk show the greatest gains from participating in an after school program curriculum.

After-school curriculum uses music to teach early language and literacy

Created by Kindermusik International, ABC Music & Me uses the proven cognitive benefits of music to boost the school readiness skills of young learners, including students who may be at risk. ABC Music & Me can be used as an after school curriculum to help all students experience gains in phonological and phonemic awareness, boost vocabulary acquisition, increase self-control abilities, and grow gross motor skills through whole body movement. In fact, participation in just 30 minutes a week delivers a 32 percent literacy gain!
Here’s what one Executive Director of an early learning center (and one of the first schools to use ABC Music & Me) said about how music, and ABC Music & Me, reaches at-risk children in her community.

Learn more about using ABC Music & Me as an after school program curriculum for young learners, including students who may be at risk. Email us at and request a demonstration to experience firsthand our customizable options for after-school programs.

4 reasons why steady beat skills matter in early childhood education


Thanks to the steady beat of our hearts, we are created to respond to a steady beat. It’s probably why we can’t help but tap our feet or nod our heads along to the beat of the music we hear.

The ability to consciously recognize and demonstrate steady beat, however, takes practice. In our early childhood music classes and early childhood curriculum, we help young children, including at-risk students, to develop steady beat by leading children to move their bodies to a beat, play instruments, clap their hands, or even walk, jump, and tiptoe to a steady beat.


4 reasons why steady beat matters in early childhood education

  1. Steady beat competency impacts gross- and fine-motor skills. The ability to keep a steady beat helps children walk with a steady gait, run, pedal a bicycle, dribble a ball, and even use scissors and write smoothly.
  2. Being able to keep a steady beat correlates to early math abilities. In an early childhood curriculum that uses music, children experience patterns in the beats, rhythms, and melodies of the music and also through movement and playing instruments. Repeating the steady beat heard in a musical piece helps children identify and repeat a simple pattern. Pattern recognition is an foundational math concept.
  3. The ability to move to a steady beat is closely connected to early language and literacy skills. Our brains process music in a similar way to how our brains process language. Children with more musical training, including steady beat, showed increased neural responses to speech sounds in comparison to children with less musical training.
  4. Children love music. Who loves music? Ask a classroom filled with students—children with special needs, four-year-olds in a state-funded PreK classroom, at-risk students—and every single hand will raise. It’s no wonder that most children learn their ABCs by—you guessed it!—singing the ABC song. Music engages children of all abilities, from all backgrounds, from all languages. And engaged children are learning children!

At-risk students benefit from early childhood music

A new study published in PLOS ONE shows that participating in one year of music classes helps at-risk students in elementary school keep a steady beat. This foundational music skill also impacted the early language and literacy development of these at-risk students. The research team behind the study plans to further investigate how music classes can increase the early language and literacy development of at-risk students.

ABC Music & Me - Early Literacy and Language CurriculumOur early childhood curriculum, ABC Music & Me, uses music as the vehicle for teaching children of all abilities early language and literacy. ABC Music & Me delivers a 32 percent literacy gain in students, including at-risk students, who participate 30 minutes a week.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me as part of an early childhood curriculum, childcare curriculum, or elementary school curriculum, email us at

At-risk students more likely to experience language development delays

Any teacher at a Title I school can confirm that children do not start school on a level playing field. Some children walk into Kindergarten already reading on a third-grade level; whereas, other students walk into that same classroom without any knowledge of a single Pre-Primer sight word. While language and speech delays can occur in any socio-economic environment for various reasons, not surprisingly, a new three-year study from Great Britain shows that at-risk students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are twice as likely to experience speech and language development delays.

Some at-risk students more “at risk” than others

The research

further reveals that not all at-risk students experience the same level of language development delays. Children from ethnic minority backgrounds show a greater likelihood for delays compared to non-minority peers, and boys more so than girls.

The research findings “have huge implications for practice, and suggest children’s needs are being missed,” said lead researcher Professor Geoff Lindsay in a press release. “There is a higher likelihood of children in some schools in socially deprived areas having problems learning language or developing speech,” he added. “This reflects the lack of opportunity within these communities. Early intervention can help to overcome that. Putting resources into those schools is important.”

Elementary curriculum uses music to reach at-risk students

Created by Kindermusik International, ABC Music & Me uses the proven cognitive benefits of music to boost the school readiness skills, including language and early literacy development, of at-risk students. When used as an elementary curriculum, at-risk students experience gains in phonological and phonemic awareness and vocabulary acquisition. For at-risk students, we understand that the learning must extend to the home environment to achieve maximum results. So, we include materials—in English and Spanish—to increase parent involvement in education.

To learn more about using ABC Music & Me as an elementary curriculum with at-risk students, including English Language Learners, email us at We can also show you how ABC Music & Me aligns with Title I Funding.

Encouraging children to “use words” supports early literacy

(Source: Carol Read’s ABC of Teaching Children blog)

“Use your words.” Early literacy and preschool teachers, parents, grandparents, and other caregivers can often be heard patiently saying that same phrase to young children throughout the day. Teaching and encouraging children to use words to express thoughts, feelings, and opinions not only supports a child’s social-emotional development, but also increases vocabulary acquisition. Not surprisingly, new data released from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows a strong connection between vocabulary acquisition and literacy.

Connections between literacy and vocabulary acquisition

The report released last month compares vocabulary results from 2009 with 2011 reading assessments. Both assessments were based on nationally representative samples of fourth-graders, eight-graders, and twelfth-graders.

  • Fourth-grade students performing above the 75th percentile in reading comprehension in 2011 also had the highest average vocabulary score.
  • Lower-performing fourth-graders at or below the 25th percentile in reading comprehension had the lowest average vocabulary score.
  • At both grades 4 and 8, the average vocabulary scores for at risk students were lower than the scores for other students.

Using music as part of an early literacy curriculum

While this report measured literacy and vocabulary abilities of fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders, we know that vocabulary acquisition and literacy begin much earlier. ABC Music & Me, an early literacy curriculum created by Kindermusik International, uses music to support young children’s early literacy and language development, including vocabulary acquisition. Picture vocabulary cards support unit-by-unit vocabulary, comprehension, memory, and pre-literacy skills. The ABC Music & Me early literacy curriculum is full of vocabulary-building opportunities. Our stories, songs, and activities introduce students to hundreds of words and their meanings.

For more information about using the ABC Music & Me early literacy curriculum in your classroom, school, or district, email us at

Preschoolers count their way to math success

Preparing children to be successful in math during elementary school begins long before that first day of Kindergarten. New research shows that both reciting and counting (assigning numerical values to objects) should be emphasized in a preschool or daycare curriculum to lay the groundwork for understanding more challenging math concepts in elementary school. In fact, the study implies that being able to count objects up to 20 in chronological order predicts success in first grade.

Preschoolers’ counting abilities and first-grade math abilities

Louis Manfra, PhD reviewed the reciting and counting abilities of 3,000 at-risk students in preschool and then later in first grade. Manfra found that the students with the highest math scores in first grade could also recite and count to 20 while in preschool. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of the at-risk students could count and recite to 20.

“Counting gives children stronger foundations when they start school,” Manfra said in a press release. “The skills children have when they start kindergarten affect their trajectories through early elementary school; therefore, it’s important that children start with as many skills as possible.” Continue reading “Preschoolers count their way to math success”

E-books can put the “E” in early literacy development

Supporting early literacy development in a classroom of preschoolers takes many different tools and tactics. Some children immediately walk into the classroom and head over to the book corner each morning. Those children seem to eat phonemes for breakfast. Children on the other end of the early literacy development spectrum may not engage in reading and literacy activities as eagerly. Recent literacy research from Kansas State University

implies that e-readers can be used to motivate less enthusiastic students.

E-readers can interest children in reading

In her research, Assistant Professor Lotta Larson used Kindle readers with second-graders. At the time, the version of the e-reader used allowed children to make the text audible, increase or decrease font size, and let them make notes while reading.

“It’s interesting to see the kinds of things these kids have been able to do,” Larson explained in a press release. “As a teacher, I know a student understands the book if she’s talking to the characters. If you take a look at those notes, it’s like having a glimpse into their brains as they’re reading.”

While research continues to emerge about the impact of e-readers and e-books on early literacy and language development, we compiled current best practices for early childhood teachers to use in the classroom.

Early literacy development through music and technology

At Kindermusik International, we share a commitment to follow, participate in, and integrate the latest research on how children learn best, including educationally appropriate ways to include digital formats of music and books. Our standards-based early language and literacy curriculum, ABC Music & Me, uses music as the vehicle for learning in preschools, daycares, and public schools while also appropriately implementing technology into the process. We’d love to schedule a demonstration to show you firsthand how to use music, technology, and the latest research to teach children early language and literacy, including at risk students who may also be reluctant readers.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me to boost early literacy and language development, email us at