7 Reasons to Give the Gift of Experiences—Like Early Childhood Music Classes!

We love music around here. Surprised? We didn’t think so. During the holiday season, you can often find us listening to favorite songs we first heard as children. (Muppets Christmas, anyone?)

Just listening to certain songs revives memories of twinkling lights, candlelight, laughter, the smell of yummy goodness baking in the oven, and the comfort of family. Each year we look forward to creating more musical memories with our friends and families. It’s no wonder that Oscar Wilde penned: “Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.”

Our childhood memories and experiences help shape who we become as adults. This holiday season why not give the gift of experiences to your child. Every child on your shopping list will love the gift of time and an individualized gift of doing something you love WITH someone you love!

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7 Reasons to Give the Gift Experiences to Children

  1. The memories will last a lifetime—long after a child loses interest in the latest toy or gadget.
  2. An “experience” gift can be custom-tailored to a child. Does your little one love new books? Take a trip to the library and read 20 books in one afternoon or all the picture books by the same author. Does your child sing throughout the day? Host a family karoke night and spend the evening singing and dancing together. Is your little guy or girl fascinated with the great outdoors? Camp out in the living room!
  3. You don’t need to find a spot for one more toy. (You know what we are talking about!)
  4. Your child learns the value of spending time together.
  5. No batteries or assembly required (i.e. no late nights spent putting together toys or lamenting proper sticker placement on tiny plastic cars.) Woo-hoo!
  6. It’s fun for you, too.
  7. Investing time with our kids pays off by creating heart-to-heart connections with them. As your children grow, they will begin to shift focus to peer-to-peer relationships but by teaching them the value of spending time as a family, children will RETURN the gift to you during the teen and adult years….and pass the gift on to their own children.

Of course, we would LOVE for you to give the gift of music. It’s what we do after all. However, here are 18 other ideas for “experience” gifts.

Graphic_GiveTheGiftOfMusic_holiday-icon_Pinterest_600x600Find a local Kindermusik educator to give the gift of music AND support a local small business owner.

4 benefits of music for babies

Kindermusik_SoundtrackForAnySeason_web-250x250-250x250Nothing really prepares a person for the season of life called Parenting. It’s one of those things that no one really tells you. After all, parenting feels a bit like playing a game where the rules change constantly. For example, shortly after mastering the perfect origami-like swaddle, your child no longer needs it to sleep through the night. Or maybe you finally figured out how the straps on the stroller work but now your little one insists on crawling or walking everywhere. Sometimes just when you think you got it figured out, baby number 2 arrives on the scene and well, it changes again! One rule will never change: A parent is a child’s first and best teacher.
In Kindermusik, we celebrate the unique role a parent plays in a child’s life and the life-altering benefits of music throughout each season of parenting and childhood. In fact, even the youngest baby learns through music. One study showed that babies who participate in interactive music classes with their parents smile more, communicate better, are easier to soothe, and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music. That’s not all. Here are four more benefits of music for babies.

4 benefits of music for babies

1. Music supports the early stages of language development.
Contrary to what babies sound like at times, they are not turning into a pterodactyl, a creature from the Amazon rainforest, or a boat. When we hear babies exploring the wide-range of noises possible with the human voice, mouth, and tongue, they are actually engaging in play—vocal play to be specific. Cooing, babbling, blowing raspberries and, well, screeching like a pterodactyl are all part of it.
BenefitsOfKindermusik_BabyMusicClasses_InfographicVocal play is one of the early stages of language development and parents play a pivotal role. In class, we create many opportunities for vocal play to happen. A baby and caregiver engage in vocal play by touching, gazing, observing, listening, and imitating. All of this vocal play support’s a child’s vocal development by encouraging breath control, the use of the vocal cords, and the coordination of the small muscles in the face and mouth. Plus, the pausing and waiting during vocal play teaches a baby conversational turn-taking.
2. Music helps babies experience patterns. During the first several months of life, babies follow a predictable pattern. Eat. Sleep. Diaper change. Eat. Sleep. Diaper change. Mathematicians call that an A-B-C pattern. Parents call it the “will-I-ever-sleep-again” pattern. (Spoiler alert: You will…one day!) Patterns help babies connect to and learn about the world. From recognizing the facial pattern of two eyes, a nose, and a mouth to hearing the vocal patterns of the common language spoken at home to even responding to the day-and-night pattern and eventually sleeping longer at night (really)!
Babies and young children who learn to identify patterns strengthen their sense of safety and feel happier and more relaxed because they can better predict what happens next. Plus, a solid understanding of patterns eventually leads to success in school, especially in math, science, and reading. Each week in class, babies experience patterns through rhythm and meter, tempo contrasts, dances, language and vocal play and the routine of the lesson flow.
3. Music and movement provide opportunities for fine- and gross-motor skills development
Babies grow by leaps and bounds their first year—or more accurately by grasps and scoots. One minute you hold a newborn who reflexively grasps your finger. Seemingly, the next minute your little baby intentionally reaches up to touch your nose. Whether reaching for a nose, lifting a head during tummy time, clapping, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, or walking, a baby exerts tireless hours to learning how to intentionally move.
Each week in class, we provide many opportunities for a baby to engage in fun, musical activities that support and strengthen each stage of a child’s movement development. From tummy time to playing with baby-safe instruments to gently bouncing a baby in a caregiver’s lap, class activities will support the development of the small and large muscles as well as coordination for more complex movements like eventually kicking a ball, jumping, and even writing.
4. Music helps babies gain active listening skills.
Do you ever just stop and really listen to your surroundings? It’s kind of noisy. You might hear the sounds of music, television commercials, the humming of the refrigerator or air conditioner, birds singing, cars driving by, wind blowing, phones buzzing, coffee maker brewing, microwave dinging, someone talking, and more. Thankfully, as an adult, you know how to tune in to the sounds that matter most. Babies do not. In fact, young babies hear most of it—including the more than 300 different phonemes, tones, and clicks used to express every single language in the world!
At Kindermusik, we know babies need to learn how to tune in to the sounds and language most needed in their daily lives. In fact, a baby can already distinguish the sound of a parent’s voice from everyone else’s voice. In class each week, we enhance a baby’s growing discriminatory listening skills when we listen to and imitate different animal noises, the various sounds of instruments, and the voices of adults singing and humming. This ability to detect and attend to sounds, and to distinguish between them, sets a baby on the path to fine-tuned listening and receptive language.

For parents too!

Dad and baby babbling and bonding in KindermusikBecoming a parent turns a person’s world (and social calendar) upside down and inside out. A person moves from lengthy conversations over dinner to brief chats scheduled around naptimes. Eventually, a parent progress to speaking in short sentences interrupted by wardrobe and diaper changes, boo-boo kissing, rocking, sharing interventions, and a few paparazzi moments. (Children do the cutest things after all!).
When enrolling in Kindermusik, many parents list “socialization” as one of the reasons. We do help children develop social and emotional skills, but we also connect grownups with parents and caregivers who understand the unique joys and challenges of parenting a child the same age. In Kindermusik class, parents often make lasting connections of their own with the grownup sitting next to them or changing a diaper or kissing a boo-boo or experiencing a paparazzi moment, too.

Experience for yourself the benefits of music for babies (and parents!). Contact a local Kindermusik educator and visit a class!

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

Where are the future scientists? In a music class for kids!

Future scientist?
Future scientist?

At first glance, music classes for kids might not seem like the best place to look for future scientists, technology experts, engineers, or mathematicians. Well, look again! New research indicates that an early childhood music class is exactly where we should look.
Researchers from Michigan State University recently published a study that found that 93 percent of STEM graduates (college students who majored in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) reported musical training as a child compared to only 34 percent of the average adult. STEM graduates also showed an increased involvement in the visual arts, acting, dance, and creative writing.

Benefits of music for children continue through adulthood

“The most interesting finding was the importance of sustained participation in those activities,” said Rex LaMore, director of MSU’s Center for Community and Economic Development, in a press release. “If you started as a young child and continued in your adult years, you’re more likely to be an inventor as measured by the number of patents generated, businesses formed or articles published. And that was something we were surprised to discover.”
According to the research team, participation in the arts, such as music classes for kids, encourages “out-of-the-box thinking.” The STEM graduates reported using those skills they learned in music or art classes—such as analogies, playing, and imagination—to solve complex scientific problems.

Music and learning in early childhood education

3_why_music_rectangle_yellowIn Kindermusik, we know children also use exploration and problem solving to learn what an object does and how it works. We call that process epistemic play. In our early childhood curriculum, we provide many opportunities for children to explore objects in order to better understand how they work. While trying out all the ways to tap, shake, or roll an instrument or stomp, tap, tiptoe our feet, children gain a foundational understanding of how things work. Plus, all this epistemic play supports a child’s overall cognitive development.

Learn more about using music in the early childhood classroom to support the cognitive development in children, including early math, science, literacy, and language skills.

To experience the benefits of music with your child, find a local Kindermusik educator in your area. 

Educators in Italy speak the language of music and learning

Italy trainingWith educators in over 70 countries, you can imagine we speak a lot of languages when we get together! Thankfully, we do share one common language: music and learning. A group of  VYL ELL teachers in Italy recently experienced this common language at a one-day training session hosted by Kindermusik.
Danny Berryman and Laura D’Abbondanza, Kindermusik project leaders and Teacher Trainers in Italy, brought together this group of VYL ELL teachers from Lingua Point in Reggio Emilia and The Victoria Company in Recanati and Jesi for a one-day training session using ABC English & Me, Kindermusik’s English Language Learning curriculum. Lingua Point and The Victoria Company are both authorized Cambridge ESOL examination centers, recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education and Members of the Italian Association of Language Schools (AISLI), founded in 1979 to promote excellent teaching standards.
And, even though we know “We Love Kindermusik” Week officially ended last week, we didn’t want to wait until next year to share with you why these VYL ELL teachers in Italy love Kindermusik! Here’s what some of them had to say about the experience.

Why VYL ELL teachers in Italy love Kindermusik…

Italy ESL training“I’ve really enjoyed this ABC English & Me Training day. It was very informative and gave us many opportunities to try out this comprehensive and effective way of teaching. I was pleased to see that it is based on strong research and feel it is something that will surely help me develop, both professionally and personally. I am confident that this method of teaching will successfully bring a whole new way of language learning to this school that can only benefit our students.” ~ Kate Letts – Lingua Point
“During the workshop, we learned an innovative method for teaching English to children aged 2 to 7 years old. This method, Kindermusik, combines music and movement for language acquisition; and is loaded with lots of fun! We also had a great time by emerging ourselves in the method with the techniques learned in class during role-play sessions.”  ~ Julia Stegmann – Lingua Point
“Danny Berryman and Laura D’Abbondanza, Kindermusik project leaders and Teacher Trainers here in Italy, gave Lingua Point the opportunity to get to know and experience an engaging and alternative teaching approach for our most precious clients: kids! The training combined didactics, marketing, and the sharing of ideas. The above, along with a nice lunch and many laughs, were the ingredients of a day that was full of ideas and energy. It is always nice to invest in projects that make you grow! From now on, English learning for our kids from 3 to 6 is going to be set to music.”  ~ Enrichetta Antichi, school co-founder – Lingua Point
“This day gave me a new perspective when it comes to teaching English to young children. This method is dynamic, rich and most importantly, fun! It offers structure and more material than a teacher could desire while at the same time not limiting the teacher’s imagination in the education process.  It is truly interesting and one to try out!” ~ Oana Alexandra Samolia –The Victoria Company 
Italy ESL trainingThis training was very useful. In reality, putting the method into practice is much simpler than it seems with the help of the Kindermusik site and digital teachers guides. I have no doubt that the children will find the lesson activities engaging and fun. On the other hand, the teachers can find all the support necessary on the website and through the music provided.” ~ Sara Verducci – The Victoria Company
“It was a beautiful experience that not only answered questions with words, but in a concrete and practical way also. This training has motivated me even greater and I am certain that both the teachers and children are going to be enthusiastic about this project. Parents will have a real chance to take part in the development of their children as they see the method and fall in in love with it just like myself. ~ Ilaria Mandolini – The Victoria Company

ABC English & Me - Teaching English to Children through MusicLearn more about bringing ABC English & Me to your school!

Music & Movement Benefits: Why and How to Sing to Your Child

Most of us have some songs we can recall from our childhood.  Start singing and the tune and the words will probably come back to you.  And if you’re in a Kindermusik class, you are enjoying a growing repertoire of songs to pull out and sing for almost any occasion!
Why Sing
Singing to a child is a priceless gift.  It doesn’t matter if you feel like your voice is not star quality; to your child, the sound of your voice is the best sound in the whole world.  According to Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine (Dec/Jan 1999), singing with and to your child can:

  • calm when upset, soothe fears, and reduce irritability;
  • enhance a child’s grasp of language and sense of beauty;
  • remind a child that he/she is cherished and loved;
  • improve communication and intimate bonding between parent and child.

How to Sing

  • Bounce your child in your lap and sing a song together.
  • Pick out individual words or groups of words from the song and let your child echo you.  Change your voice, using lots of inflection.
  • Accompany yourselves by tapping wooden or plastic spoons together with a beat.
  • Dance while you sing.
  • Put your own words to a song – whatever fits the occasion or the task at hand.
  • Let a song inspire dress-up and pretend play.

Take the song, “The Muffin Man,” for example.  The words are:
Do you know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man?
Do you know the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane?
Yes, I know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man.
Yes, I know the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane.
You can have fun singing, adapting, and playing with this song in many ways.  Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Try inserting another occupation, like “the bakery lady,” “the lawn mower man,” “the fireman,” or “our doctor friend.”
  • Substitute your own street name for Drury Lane.
  • Accompany yourself by tapping a spoon on a muffin pan.
  • Explore the many different kinds of sounds you can make as you tap, rub, or scrape the muffin tin.
  • Create a muffin game.
  • Put on an apron and/or a chef’s hat and then bake some muffins together – or just pretend to do so!
  • Play with the question and answer part of the song.
  • Come up with your own muffin song.

Shared by Theresa Case, who has an award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC.
 

Bringing the benefits of music to the slums of Thailand

Thailand 1The benefits of music can transform a child’s life. Music can also be a lifeline. In early childhood music classes around the world, music brings light and laughter and joy to children surrounded by poverty and crime and exploitation. Kindermusik educator, Nikol Hellebrandova shares ABC English & Me (an English Language Learning program) with young children in one such place.

Early childhood music in the slums of Thailand

Two times each week Nikol Hellebrandova teaches ABC English & Me to a small group of children between the ages of 4 and 6 at a charity daycare in the slums of Pataya, Thailand. The Hand to Hand nursery school is located in an old business building. The former garage and warehouse area now serve as two classrooms for 60 children. A third room is used to store material, clothes, non-perishable food, and various items distributed to families and others living in the slums.
Thailand 2“Despite the hardships these children encounter each day, they love music class! The lessons are very interactive and the children are really getting into it,” explains Nikol. “They especially love interacting with the orangutan puppet and playing the instruments. In the class, children also enjoy taking turns being the ‘activity leader’ and giving instructions in English for the rest of the class—including me—to follow!”
Since beginning the ABC English & Me classes, children can now answer simple questions, name pictures, and sing the English songs for kids. Although the children can only access the home and classroom materials at school, Nikol also integrates the English vocabulary throughout other parts of the day so children’s English language learning happens naturally and through play.
“Sometimes it is difficult to arrange everything to make a nice learning environment,” confesses Nikol. “I really salute the courage and self-sacrifice of the Hand to Hand staff. They do so much more than run a daycare. They visit and take care of people in the hospitals, in jail, and in the neighborhood by supplying food, clothes, and medicine. In spite of everything, they always find the reasons and the way to enjoy life!”
Thailand 3Hand to Hand works everyday, one child at a time to make a difference to the children living in the slums. Hand to Hand provides a safe place where potentially exploited children can come and play and receive food, clothes, and a sense of worth. Hand to Hand is changing the lives of children.

To learn more about the Hand to Hand Foundation, visit their website.

Kindermusik… It's What's Good for You!

Development of the BrainOne of the best things about Kindermusik is the way the music and movement activities are so carefully and creatively designed to enhance every area of a child’s development.  You might think it’s just about the music, but as we’re often fond of saying, “We’re so much MORE than just music.”  There are many benefits of music, but none more important than those that affect every area of a child’s development – like Kindermusik does.
Chants and Fingerplays help children explore fun sounds and practice new words, providing a rich language environment.
Rhymes and Stories give Kindermusik kids a rich head-start in literacy development.
Singing and Playing Instruments inspire a love for music and lay a foundation for musical learning.
Marching, Jumping, Bouncing, and Twirling allow a child to be more self-expressive and to explore the many different ways a body can move, contributing to his physical development.
Rocking and Quiet Time promote special bonding time between parent and child and make those emotional ties even stronger.
Multi-sensory Activities which engage more than one sense at a time are part of what sparks vital cognitive development.
Circle Dances foster a sense of belonging and community, contributing to a child’s healthy social development.
Come See KindermusikMusic and learning go hand-in-hand.  So come swing, sway, dance, LEARN, and play with us at Kindermusik.  Try a free class today!  You’ll love seeing firsthand all the many ways your child will flourish in Kindermusik – in every area of his development.

4 ways to use early childhood music to help children sleep

sleeping toddler finalSleep. It’s such a simple word. And, yet, for parents with young children—or early childhood educators with a classroom full of wiggling and giggling little ones at naptime—sleep can seem like a mirage that teases and tricks and lingers just out of reach. Or, it can leave us driving around willing all the lights to stay green so our little ones will stay asleep just a little bit longer.
While this lack of sleep bonds us together, it also isolates us in our individual struggles to lull our little ones to sleep. No need to call a Sleep Nanny just yet. Try these musical solutions to help solve childhood sleep woes.

4 musical ideas that puts children to sleep (literally)

  1. Listen to lullabies. Lullabies can lower the heart rate of children and help grown-ups to relax as well.
  2. Use soft, quiet music the same time each evening to signal that sleep time is near. Routines and rituals help young children make sense of their world and predict what comes next. Listening to the same music at the end of the day tells children that it is time to get ready for bed. This can mean bath time, cozy pajamas, a story, and then a final snuggle before lights out.
  3. Be consistent with musical selections. Familiar tunes work best to signal to a child that bedtime is near.
  4. Teach children their own soothing lullaby. Children learn through repetition. So, by singing a favorite song night after night, children will not only learn the song by heart, but they will learn a musical self-soothing technique. Bonus: That same tune can help calm children under stressful situations, like a skinned knee or a visit to the doctor’s office.

We know there is power in early childhood music. Whether used as part of a toddler curriculum to teach early literacy and language skills, played in the background at toddler play groups, or even used in the middle of the night to lull an infant to sleep, music puts a soundtrack to childhood. And, music and learning go hand in hand!

Looking for musical solutions to other parenting challenges? Visit a Kindermusik class to connect with other families where you can discover more about the benefits of early childhood music. Find a local Kindermusik educator today!


10 Reasons Why Toddlers Thrive in Early Childhood Music Classes

Since Kindermusik International is the world’s leader in early music and movement learning, we could probably probably give you 10,000 reasons why toddlers thrive in our early childhood music classes with Kindermusik educators all around the world using our toddler music curriculum.
But we’ll keep this short, sweet, and to the point and just share 10 of our favorite reasons why early childhood music, and specifically Kindermusik classes, are so important for young children.
Music - happy familiesReason #1: Parents are engaged and involved with their toddler for the entire class and toddlers blossom with this kind of focused attention and quality time together.
Reason #2: Toddlers benefit from the social facet of the class, watching their peers, making friends, and practicing sharing.
Reason #3: Creativity and imagination are ignited through Kindermusik’s rich, multi-sensory learning environment.  Music and learning go hand-in-hand.  Watch this video for more!
Reason #4: In a Kindermusik program, most children will have the opportunity to have the same caring, nurturing Kindermusik teacher for several years, providing a security and familiarity that enriches the learning process.
Reason #5: The Kindermusik curricula deliberately expose toddlers to a wide variety of musical genres and styles, expanding their musical taste and appreciation.
Reason #6: Toddlers absolutely thrive on happy rituals and predictable routines, both of which are an intrinsic part of each and every Kindermusik class.
Reason #7: At a time when vocabularies are exploding, Kindermusik classes inspire toddlers to practice silly sounds and learn new words through songs, chants, and vocal play.
Reason #8: Toddlers love to go, and Kindermusik classes give children a safe place to actively explore all of the different ways little bodies can move.
Reason #9: Kindermusik classrooms are a place of discovery and delight, and nothing is more satisfying to a toddler than to be able to do and explore all by himself – with mom or dad close by, of course!
Reason #10: The Kindermusik curricula are carefully designed to give these active learners exactly what they need when they need it, inspiring a love of music and an appetite for learning that will last a lifetime.
cute girl making a funny faceCome see for yourself how your toddler will thrive in a Kindermusik class!  Try a free Preview Class today.  We promise… Kindermusik is one of the best things you can do for your child.  We’d love to show you why.

Shared by Theresa Case who owns an award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC.

Music & Movement Benefits: Naturally Speaking, Of Course!

Kindermusik prepares your child for schoolThe more you expose your child to language, the stronger his verbal skills will be.  Language acquisition is a gradual process that involves many facets of development including listening, imitating facial expressions, playing peek-a-boo, and babbling.  Your child will learn language naturally by hearing it used in context when you sing, read, talk, and listen to him.
Kindermusik tips for…
Your Baby: At two months, he coos and babbles.  In his first year, he’ll begin making vowel sounds (oohs and aahs) and then move to new sounds and vowel-consonant combinations.  Your baby is also learning the art of conversation.  Bring your face close to his, and talk to him.  Ask him a question and let him respond.  He is learning that conversation is a two-way street.
Your Toddler: In a verbal growth spurt, your toddler’s vocabulary expands from about 50 to 200 words.  When your toddler displays emotion, give him the language to identify it:  “You’re happy!” or “I can see you’re sad.”  You’ll enhance his emotional intelligence as well as his vocabulary.
Your Preschooler: Playing rhyming games is a fun way for a preschooler who is developing phonemic awareness – the recognition that sounds make up words.  Encourage him by making up rhymes and laughing together.
Enrolling in early childhood music and movement classes is one of the very best ways you can enhance early literacy development in your child.  We happen to believe that Kindermusik is the best choice!  But don’t just take our word for it… come try a free preview class on us.