4 reasons why music matters in early childhood education

ABC Music & Me Special Education Curriculum - Sycamore Creek Elementary

Music belongs in our schools. Of course, we know we are preaching to the choir (figuratively and literally!). In the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, music teacher Glenn Holland said: “You can cut the arts as much as you want…sooner or later, these kids aren’t going to have anything to read or write about.”

ABC Music & Me Special Education Curriculum - Sycamore Creek ElementaryIt’s true. Music and the arts speak to us and for us in profound and immeasurable ways. When used as part of an elementary school curriculum, early childhood music can also impact the measurable side of education, including early literacy and language acquisition. In our early childhood curriculum, ABC Music & Me, children experienced a 32 percent literacy gain after participating in our music education classes.

4 more reasons why music matters in early childhood education and belongs in our schools

1. Early childhood music classes teach children to identify and discriminate between sounds—and focus on sounds that matter most. During the school years, children will spend an estimated 50 to 75 percent of classroom time listening to the teacher, other students, or to media. That doesn’t mean the rest of the classroom noises automatically cease. Little fingers will still tap on the desk, children’s laughter from recess outside will still be heard, students will still whisper to each other, and shuffling feet will still walk through the hall. Developing strong active listening skills, prepares young children to focus on the lesson at hand rather than the other distracting noises. Our early childhood curriculum, ABC Music & Me, gives young children many opportunities to develop those strong active listening skills. In one 30-minute class, children may listen intently for the sounds of a specific instrument in a classical piece, use instruments to practice the difference between Staccato (short) and Legato (long) sounds, or even move their bodies fast or slow in response to what they hear in the music.

2. Our brains process music similarly to how we process language. To become successful readers, young children need to understand that words—like music—are made up of discrete sounds. Later they use that knowledge of sounds to read and build words. Research shows that children with these skills are more successful learning to read than others. Kindermusik’s early childhood music classes provide many opportunities for children to discriminate similarities and differences in sound. So, while children gain musical skills in class, they also make gain in phonological awareness and reading development.

3. Music teaches young children self-regulation skills. Self-regulation is the ability to control our thoughts, feelings, and actions. When used as part of an early childhood curriculum, music (and movement) can help children learn to tell their bodies what to do, when to stop, when to go, and when to move to another activity. So, when children participate in a circle dance, transition from one activity to another, and even share instruments, children are learning and practicing self-regulation skills. Those same skills will help children pay attention in school, act and behave appropriately, and transition from one activity to another.

4. Participating in early childhood music classes teaches young children how to learn. In our childcare curriculum, ABC Music & Me, an educator guides the class towards a learning objective with the children as active participants in the learning process. Providing children with ample time to reflect, compare, make choices, express opinions and preferences, and engage in problem-solving activities together teaches children not only the lesson focus but it teaches them how to learn.

Early childhood curriculum uses the power of music

Early Literacy Curriculum with Research-Proven Results

Yes, music belongs in our children’s lives. And, yes, music belongs in our schools. Our early childhood curriculum, ABC Music & Me, uses the latest research on how children learn as well as the proven cognitive benefits of music to support the growth of phonological awareness, focused listening skills, self-control, early language and literacy skills, and more. Plus, our childcare curriculum intentionally creates lessons that give teachers the opportunity to notice, observe, and include children of all abilities in a group learning environment.

To learn more about bringing ABC Music & Me (and the power of music!) to your preschool, elementary school, or daycare, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

Or, if you are at the NAEYC’s 2013 Annual Conference and Expo this week, stop by our Booth (#2712)!

2 new brain studies look at music and learning in a group

ABC Music & Me early literacy curriculum

ABC Music & Me early literacy curriculumWhat do you get when you cross group activities for kids with music and learning? That’s just one of the questions a research team led by Dr. Nina Kraus seeks to answer in two new brain studies funded by the NAMM Foundation. Unlike past research that compares children taking private music lessons to those not enrolled, one unique aspect of Kraus’s latest music and learning research is that it focuses on children learning in a group as part of a school curriculum.

“The NAMM Foundation is honored to support Dr. Kraus in these studies, which we believe will push the boundaries of knowledge about the effects and impact of music learning,” said Mary Luehrsen, executive director of the NAMM Foundation in a press release. “Over time, these and other studies will continue to substantiate that music education is essential to learning for every child.”

The Music and Learning Brain Studies led by Dr. Kraus

  1. “The Harmony Project: Biological Benefits of Musical Training in At-Risk Children.” The initial phase of the research study found that children between the ages of 6 and 9 years old who took music lessons could better differentiate speech sounds, which directly relates to language and literacy skills. In the next phase, the team expects to find that children with musical training have an enhanced auditory cognitive function, which can also directly correlate to increased literacy skills.
  2. “The Impact of In-School Music Classes: Rhythm, Language and the Brain.” In collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools, Kraus and her team want to better understand how musical training impacts cognitive, linguistic, and perceptual skills and associated brain development.

And the answer is…

So back to the first question (with an added bonus!): What do you get when you cross group activities for kids with music and learning AND parent involvement in early childhood education? Well, Kindermusik, of course! From Kindermusik classes in more than 70 countries around the world to ABC Music & Me programs used as part of an elementary school, PreK, or Head Start curriculum, we use

music as the vehicle for learning. Plus, we include materials that connect the classroom learning with the everyday lives and routines of children to increase family involvement in education.

To find a Kindermusik educator in your area, visit the Class Locator.

To learn more about ABC Music & Me as part of a PreK, Head Start, or elementary school curriculum, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.