Research: Involving Parents Increases Positive Outcome for Kids Enrolled in Head Start

New research once again shows that an intentional partnership between parents and teachers positively supports children’s educational outcomes. Without a doubt, parents are a child’s first and best teacher. We know that intuitively and we hear that from early childhood experts and teachers. But, let’s face it. Parents need help. They need partners in their children’s education to best equip them in their role as teachers. They need information and they need practical ideas and tools that they can easily use in their everyday routines with their children.


Involving Parents Helps Young Children Maintain Literacy Skills

Recently, a research team recruited 200 children and parents from families enrolled in 24 Head Start programs in rural and urban Pennsylvania. The families were split into two groups. The control group received math games to play on their own. The other group received materials, such as books and learning games, and visits from “educational counselors” who provided coaching on how to use the games with their children. Those materials specifically supported the lessons from the Head Start classroom.

The children who participated in the second group showed significantly higher retention of literacy skills (vocabulary and fluency) and social skills (self-directed learning and social competence) acquired in the classroom when compared to the control group.

A Listening Game to Support Early Literacy Skills

While not a part of the Head Start study above, Kindermusik programs provide materials (games, music, books) and child development information and resources parents can use OUTSIDE the classroom to support what happens INSIDE the classroom. For example, this fun game—“Reading” the Violin”—supports children’s early literacy skills.

 Violin game

Matching sounds to a visual image is an extremely important early literacy skill. It is, in fact, the precursor skill to the alphabetic principle, or the understanding that there is a relationship between letters and sounds. Before children can explore letter-sound relationships and learn to decode words, they must first understand the connection between a sound they hear and an image they see.

This game provides kids lots of practice with associating a specific bit of audio with a specific bit of visual, and they’ll have no idea that this game is actually preparing them to read. It also supports other important early childhood cognitive competences, including:

  • Selective Attention: the ability to selectively concentrate on one aspect of the environment while ignoring distractions.
  • Auditory Working Memory: the ability to retain information that has been presented orally (e.g., listening to a target sound and then matching the sound to its image)
  • Auditory Discrimination: the ability to discriminate between similar sounds.

Did you know Kindermusik offers a program for Head Start and Early Head Start Programs that include materials and resources, like the game above, for families to use? Learn more.

Happy International Children’s Book Day

International Children's Book Day LogoWARNING! Kindermusik Educators may burst into song at any time and in any place. They also sometimes carry egg shakers in their pockets for a little accompaniment. After all, pianos are not exactly portable. An equally true fact is that their bookshelves, iPads, and, in some cases, car trunks overflow with kids books. After all, music and reading go together like, well, music and egg shakers. So, we thought the best way to celebrate International Children’s Book Day today was to share some of Kindermusik Educators favorite children’s books. And the best way for YOU to celebrate is to read one of these—or your own favorite—with the children in your life!

Children’s Books Kindermusik Educators Love to Read

You Will Be My Friend and Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer

~Alicia Bourdier


I’m a Little Teapot by Iza Trapani

~ Melinda Lise Pokorzynski


The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

~ Jamie Henry Espen


How to Speak Moo! By Deborah FajermanBooks for Kids We Love Pinterest Board

~ Cathy Huser


I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt

~ Molly McAllister Ziegler


The Feelings Book and It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Park

Look Who’s Talking on the Farm and Look Who’s Talking at the Zoo by Danny Tepper

~ Lindsay Levin


To Market to Market by Anne Miranda

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

~ Yvette Odell


The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort

~Jane Hendrix


Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee

Who Hoots? By Katie Davis

~ Jan Janz


mom reading to her babyPete the Cat by James Dean

Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington

~Kathy Morrison


Bumpa Rumpus and the Rainy Day by Joanne Reay

~ Julie Stewart


Tanka Tanka Skunk by Steve Webb

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Iza Trepani

Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand

Little White Duck by Bernard Zaritzky

~ Bernadette Baird


Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

Baby Beluga by Raffi

~ Whitney Shelton


Mrs. Wishy Washy’s Farm by Joy Cowley

Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James

Do You Want to Be My Friend by Eric Carle

Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood

~Helen Peterson


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

We All Go Traveling By by Sheena Roberts

Over in the Ocean: On a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes

~Danielle Smith

Shiny Dinah is one of our favorites from Kindermusik class! Take a listen and you’ll soon hear why parents, educators, kids love this book!


Looking for more great books to read with young kids? Try our “Books for Kids We Love” Pinterest Board.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell a freelance writer in the Atlanta area. Her go-to children’s books include the Piggie & Gerald books by Mo Willems.


March is National Reading Month

Yes, we know that today is February 28.  But that means that tomorrow is March 1, and March is National Reading Month in the U.S. And what exactly do reading and early literacy skills have to do with music, you ask? More than you might think!
Here are just a few of the connections between music and reading – and just some of the reasons why literacy and books are an important part of our Kindermusik curricula and the musical learning that is so foundational to all we do:
• Music incorporates rhythm and tempo just like words and sentences do.
• You read music the same way you read music – from left to right.
Patterns are as much a part of music as they are of reading.
• Music helps children learn to listen which is also an essential skill for literacy.
• In both music and reading, symbols are used when writing music and words.
In celebration of National Reading Month which kicks off with National Read Across Amercia Day on Monday, March 3, here are a few of our favorite music-themed books.
Meet the Orchestra Ann HayesMusical Instruments from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman
Meet the Orchestra by Ann Hayes
Ah, Music! by Aliki
Music, Music for Everyone by Vera B. Williams
Hand Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss
Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett
The Musical Life of Gustav Mole by Kathryn Meyrick
And here are some additional resources to help you and your child get reading.
Also, enjoy these Read Across America printables and resources from

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”  ~ Dr. Seuss

Shared by Theresa Case, who has 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.

Reading with children and why it matters to early literacy development

Story timeIn the world of early literacy development, reading with your children matters more than reading to your children. It makes sense. When parents read with children, adults and children both become active participants—rather than passive participants—in the reading process. Try some of these early literacy tips the next time you read together!

5 tips for engaging toddlers and preschoolers in reading

  1. Read with an expressive tone. Children’s books provide ample opportunities for parents (and children!) to try out silly voices, make funny noises, or read LOUDLY or quietly.
  2. Ask questions. What is going to happen next? Why won’t he try green eggs and ham? Do you like to try something new?
  3. Make connections between the story and real life situations. Did you just read a book about a farm? On your next visit to the grocery store, point out the different fruits and vegetables mentioned in the story.
  4. Read throughout the day. Of course, as creators of an early literacy curriculum, we recommended marking the end of the nighttime routine with a snuggle and a quiet reading time together. However, reading together can happen throughout the day.
  5. Read it again…and again. Children learn through repetition. Reading a favorite book over (and over!) again supports a child’s early literacy development. In repeated readings, children recognize new details and begin to make more connections between the words spoken and the printed page.

“One of the things that I really hope for, and have found, is that these things spill over into other areas,” explained Bradford Wiles an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in early childhood development at Kansas State University. “So you start out reading, asking open-ended questions, offering instruction and explaining when all of a sudden you aren’t reading at all and they start to recognize those things they have seen in the books. And that’s really powerful.”

We couldn’t agree more!

A musical twist to early literacy development

Early Literacy gains with ABC Music & Me

At Kindermusik, we use musical learning to support early literacy development and engage the whole family in the process. Children participating in our early literacy curriculum, ABC Music & Me, for just 30 minutes a week experience a 32 percent

literacy gain. In class, children participate in music and movement activities that emphasize steady beat, rhythm and pitch, practice active listening skills, and build social-emotional skills. Plus, each month families receive access to the music from class, the storybook, and other ideas on continuing the learning outside the classroom.

For more information about bringing our early literacy curriculum to your school, preschool, or daycare, email us at

14 ways to celebrate 2014 with early childhood music and early literacy

(Source: She Knows Canada)

At Kindermusik, we celebrate new beginnings throughout the year—from new babies being born to new families discovering our early childhood music classes to even launching new curriculum for babies and toddlers. However, whenever a new calendar year rolls around, we look for even more ways to celebrate! We invite all of our Kindermusik families to help ring in—or shake or sing or dance in—the new year with one of these ideas.

Welcome the New Year through early childhood music and early literacy

  1. Make a musical time capsule of your family’s current favorite music with a 2014 playlist. Include your child’s favorite lullabies, get-up-and-go songs, or theme songs from beloved television shows or movies. Expand the playlist beyond early childhood music, too. Be sure to include your own favorite songs that you share together.
  2. Read musical storybooks together. Try some of these Kindermusik favorites to support early childhood music and early literacy development.
  3. Go on a letter sound treasure hunt. Show your child a letter. Make the sound of the letter together and then go on a treasure hunt around your house to find an object that starts with that same sound.
  4. Make a personalized alphabet eBook. During your letter sound treasure hunt, take a photo of each object: M for Mommy; S for stuffed animal; K for Kindermusik. Then support your child’s early literacy development by creating a personalized alphabet eBook with the photos.
  5. Try one of these websites or mobile apps for kids that support early literacy development. The Reading Rainbow app will soon include a music-themed “Kindermusik” island. Stay tuned to hear more!
  6. Read (and memorize!) a favorite nursery rhyme. Nursery rhymes build phonemic awareness as your child begins to hear the differences between rhyming words like “Humpty” and “Dumpty” or “wall” and “fall.”
  7. Play alphabet musical chairs. Here’s one way to combine early childhood music and early literacy skills with a familiar childhood game.
  8. Sing together. One study says talking (or singing) to your young child is the most critical aspect of parenting a baby or toddler. Learn more about the child development benefits, including vocabulary development and early literacy development.
  9. Dance together. The ability to move to a steady beat is linked to language skills. Plus, it’s fun and great exercise for the whole family and gives your child the opportunity to practice all those growing gross motor skills!
  10. Make music and reading part of your daily routine. Routines and rituals help young children make sense of their world and predict what comes next. Each day signal to your child the end of the day by listening to (or singing!) lullabies and reading books together after bath.
  11. Hold a Freeze Dance party. Children love freeze dance. However, as creators of early childhood music classes and early literacy curriculum, we know there is more behind a game of Freeze Dance than giggles and silly moves. Children practice inhibitory control by learning how to tell their bodies when to dance and when to stop. Inhibitory control prepares a child to sit still and pay attention during the school years.
  12. Get out some instruments (or pots and pans) and hold a family jam session. Your child will practice steady beat and rhythmic abilities. Rhythmical abilities show a strong positive correlation with decoding skills, both in reading accuracy and reading prosody. Plus, being able to keep a steady beat helps a child feel the cadence (rhythm) of language.
  13. Play “Name that Sound.” Gather different instruments or objects that make sounds. Take turns closing your eyes and naming the instrument or object. That same sound discrimination helps your child hear the minute differences between letter sounds or phonemes, which supports early literacy and language development.
  14. Enroll in Kindermusik classes! Our classes for babies, toddlers, big kids, and families are loved by more than 2 million families in over 70 countries.

    Contact a local Kindermusik educator today! Ask to visit a class and see for yourself why parents and children around the world love our early childhood music classes.








Research Proves Just 30 Minutes/Week of ABC Music & Me Delivers 32% Literacy Gain!

Improving Student Language & Literacy Skills:

A Study of the Effectiveness of ABC Music & Me


To evaluate the effectiveness of Kindermusik’s ABC Music & Me curriculum, an independent research firm, SEG Measurement, conducted a national, multi-site study* following 299 preschool children during the 2012-13 school year. ABC Music & Me is a supplemental early childhood curriculum that uses music and movement to engage young children while teaching a variety of skills critical to later school success. Extensive at-home materials, provided to parents monthly with each new curriculum unit, inform families of their children’s classroom experiences and provide the means for continuing classroom learning at home.

Research Proves 32% Literacy GainThe findings indicate that students in classes using the ABC Music & Me program made significantly greater gains in language and literacy skills as compared to students in classes that did not use any of the ABC Music & Me program components.

Study Design

The study examined the effectiveness of the ABC Music & Me program by comparing the growth in language and literacy skills among preschool students receiving the ABC Music & Me curriculum to a comparable group of preschoolers who did not receive the ABC Music & Me program.
The study incorporated a pre- and post-test treatment- and control-group design. All participating students took the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) Pre-K Assessment** at both the beginning and end of the school year. Students in the treatment group received ABC Music & Me instruction and activities as part of their preschool curriculum during the school year. Students in the control group did not receive any ABC Music & Me instruction or activities.
Students in the control and treatment groups attended the same or comparable schools, and statistical analyses were conducted to ensure that the groups were comparable. Analysis of Covariance was used to compare treatment and control-group performance on the post-test while controlling for any initial differences in ability.
Teacher and parent feedback regarding ABC Music & Me was also collected through biweekly teacher surveys on curriculum usage, an end-of-year teacher survey, a classroom environment survey, and two parent surveys investigating families’ use of the ABC Music & Me Home Materials.


The results of the study show that students who received ABC Music & Me instruction showed significantly larger gains on the PALS test than did students who did not receive ABC Music & Me instruction. In fact, ABC Music & Me students showed 32% more improvement on the PALS test than did control group students. These results indicate that the ABC Music & Me program successfully boosts preschoolers’ language and literacy skills.
Graph: Research Proves PreK Student Literacy GainsResults from teacher surveys indicate that preschool teachers found the ABC Music & Me curriculum to be effective in teaching a variety of skills, and would strongly recommend it to other preschool teachers, and that parents would recommend the program to other parents.


Students who participated in ABC Music & Me showed significantly greater gains in language and literacy skills than students who did not receive ABC Music & Me instruction.
Teachers who used ABC Music & Me found the program to be effective in many areas. Both teachers and parents would strongly recommend the program to others.
*This study was conducted by SEG Measurement, supported by a grant from Kindermusik International. SEG is an independent research firm, providing research services to educational publishers, technology providers, and government agencies, since 1979.
**About PALS: The PALS-(Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) Pre-K Assessment is a scientifically-based phonological awareness and literacy screening that measures preschoolers’ developing knowledge of important literacy fundamentals and offers guidance to teachers for tailoring instruction to children’s specific needs. The assessment reflects skills that are predictive of future reading success and measures name writing ability, upper-case and lower-case alphabet recognition, letter sound and beginning sound production, print and word awareness, rhyme awareness and nursery rhyme awareness.
View a Summary of the Report
View the Full Report

11 summer-friendly literacy activities for parent involvement in education

Ask a child to define “summer slide” and responses may include descriptions of the tunnel slides at the local park, the indoor slide at the restaurant down the street, or maybe the water slide at the pool. Ask an early childhood educator, however, and the response would probably include an explanation of what can happen to the early literacy skills of a child who doesn’t read or engage in early literacy activities over the summer.
As a child’s first and best teacher, parent involvement in early childhood education can stop the “summer slide.” We put together 11 tried-and-true early literacy activities for families to do together over the summer (or anytime!) that supports early literacy development.

11 summer-friendly early literacy activities

1. Read with your child 20 minutes each day. Include a mixture of books that you both choose.
2. Practice letter writing in the sandbox, chalk on the sidewalk, or even a cookie sheet with flour (for those rainy days).
3. Act out your child’s favorite story together.
4. Go on a “Letter Sound” scavenger hunt. Help your child find objects around the house or in your neighborhood that start with every letter of the alphabet.
5. Listen to books on CD or download stories from
11 Summer-friendly early literacy activities6. Add eBooks to your reading list. eBooks can be especially engaging for reluctant readers.
7. Go fishing. Put magnetic letters in a bowl. Tie a string to a paper clip and let your child “fish” for a letter. After catching a letter, your child identifies the letter and the sound it makes.
8. Connect stories to your child’s life. Reading a book with characters that live in the woods? Go on a hike. Is the setting at a lake? Visit a lake, pond, or even a stream.
9. Look at the clouds and make up stories about what you see.
10. Play “I Spy” with letter sounds. “I spy something that starts with the letter B.” (Then make the sound of the letter.)
11. Download the Reading Rainbow app, the number 1 app in Education. Plus, with hundreds of books and videos, new content added every week, and music-themed content by Kindermusik, we know you can find something for every young reader!

Early childhood curriculum increases family involvement in early childhood education

ABC Music & Me is an early childhood curriculum that uses music and movement to teach young children. We also increase parent involvement in early childhood education by providing families each month with the music from class as well as a Family Activity Guide (available in English and Spanish). The guide includes the story from class and related literacy activities that families can do together at home.
For more information on how ABC Music & Me uses music to teach early language and literacy and increase parent involvement, email us at

How to Help Your Child Become a Better Reader

benefits of reading with young childrenWe all know that reading to our children is an important part of their intellectual and emotional development. But why is this so?  Susan B. Neuman, professor of childhood studies at the University of Michigan, gives some insight.
Dr. Neuman points out that reading is fun, stimulates the imagination, provides knowledge of the world and life, including problems and the solving of problems. Language development is also strengthened by hearing words being read aloud. Children who are read a variety of books on a daily basis also develop a sense of community, an understanding of “what it means to be human,” and to learn empathy as they are introduced to cultures and people that are different than their own.
Most parents are already convinced of the importance of reading, but with so many children’s books on the market, it can be hard to know which books are best.  Here are some simple tips for choosing – and reading! – books according to your child’s age.
birth – 1 year
Look for small, brightly colored books with photos of babies and familiar objects like balls and bottles. Draw attention to the objects by saying things like, “Look at the ball,” or point to pictures and ask, “What’s that?”
1 – 2 years
Look for sturdier books that can be handled and carried; few words on teh pages or simple rhyming themes. Talk about the pictures — you don’t necessarily have to read the book to tell the story.
2 – 3 years
Look for silly or funny books with subjects like food, animals, or making friends. SImple word books are good choices. Keep stories short and read them with few interruptions. Then, re-read them.
3 – 4 years
Look for books that tell simple stories with a beginning, a middle, and end; stories that relate to life, like overcoming fear; information books about children’s interests. As you read ask your child questions about the story: “What do you think will happen next? Why?” Keep them engaged.
5 – 6 years
Look for stories and information books that evoke children’s lively imagination and interests; books about space, machines, time, and other cultures. Ask your child to tell you what interests her most about the story. Use open-ended questions to encourage her to relate her ideas. Allow her to ask questions as you read.
Compiled by Theresa Case, whose Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC, is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide.

Digital learning in the early childhood classroom (and at home!)

Have you seen the video of the one-year-old child interacting with her father’s iPad and then a print magazine? After touching the tablet screen to make images increase in size, she tried doing the same thing to pictures in a magazine. Of course, that didn’t quite work!

Most children today will never remember a time before the Internet, smart phones, and tablets. Not to mention, with 30 percent (and rising!) of today’s college students taking at least one online class, higher education will look quite different for our children.

Digital learning and early childhood

Children engage in digital learning from an early age. Even the youngest child can model the actions of a parent talking on a smart phone or reading an eBook. A recent report, Take a Giant Step: A Blueprint for Teaching Children in a Digital Age, published by the Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council, includes strategies and tactics to better equip preschool and elementary teachers to provide age-appropriate digital learning opportunities for young children.

“Teaching young children today demands a new approach to an exciting but increasingly complex set of challenges,” said Linda Darling-Hammond in a press release. “Quality early learning programs in our digital age will be led by highly prepared, flexible teachers who can effectively integrate what they know about healthy child development with the resources of an always connected, thoroughly modern environment.”

The report highlights the understanding that integrating digital learning into early childhood works best when it enhances children’s engagement, such as talking, interacting, manipulating, pretending, reading, constructing, and exploring. (Sounds like a Kindermusik class to us!) In order to help early childhood educators best capture the power of digital learning, the report outlined several goals to accomplish by 2020:

  1. Advance technology integration and infrastructure
  2. Modernize professional learning programs and models
  3. Expand public media use as a cost-effective asset for teachers
  4. Create a Digital Teacher Corps

Digital learning: making connections between the classroom and home

In one early childhood digital learning study featured in the report, researchers worked with a Kindergarten teacher and her five- and six-year-old students. The researchers loaded math activities, video clips, and digital worksheets onto tablet computers. The tablets also included material for parents on the goals of the activities and information on the math topics and keywords the students learned at school. For homework, each student received a tablet to take home for four weeks.

After the four weeks ended, parents said that they felt more connected to what was happening in the classroom and were better able to offer their children help because they knew exactly what they were working on and what concepts they should understand. Plus, children spent more time on their homework and improved mathematics skills.

Digital learning and eBooks with Kindermusik@Home

After more than 30 years of developing early childhood curricula, including music classes for toddlers, babies, big kids, and families, we understand that the days may pass slowly but the years fly (or dance) by. One day a baby may be taking her first steps in a Village class and seemingly the next day she is walking across the stage to receive a high school diploma. Wow. Talk about a fast dance.

Kindermusik@HomeWe know that music can impact a young child in profound ways and can set a child up for early academic success.  We also know, as the above report showed, how important technology fluency will be to your child, which is one of the reasons we created Kindermusik@Home. With Kindermusik@Home, families can engage in age-appropriate digital learning, such as virtual field trips and active listening games, read eBooks, and download all the music from class. Kindermusik@Home connects the classroom learning with a family’s everyday life, making the learning (and fun!) last throughout the week.

To learn more about enrolling in a Kindermusik class and receiving access to Kindermusik@Home, contact a local educator via our Class Locator.

Schools, preschools, and childcare centers can also benefit from Kindermusik@Home. To learn more about bringing our digital early learning curriculum into your classroom while also increasing parental involvement, email us at