[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Next week, Kindermusik International’s Director of Professional Development, Betsy Flanagan, will present two sessions at the 43rd Annual National Head Start Conference and Expo in Nashville, Tennessee – the Music City. Think about that nickname – it’s quite appropriate that she’ll be speaking about the benefits of music in learning and reducing stress in the classroom. In addition, Betsy will address music’s power in daily transitional moments, like leaving home for school. Click here to let us know you are coming![/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”mulled_wine”][vc_column_text]For the better part of a year, Betsy Flanagan has headed professional development for Kindermusik, but for the past 14 years, she’s guided the direction of Musical Pathways Foundation as founder and director, a non-profit organization that offers Kindermusik curricula to families just north of Madison, Wisconsin. A seasoned speaker, she brings her considerable education, knowledge, and experience in the musical education of young children to the NHSA conference attendees.
[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Music + Movement = Monumental Impact” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left|color:%238224e3″][vc_column_text]Betsy shares that different aspects of music and movement activities has a positive impact on all domains of learning – physical, social, adaptive, and cognitive. Beyond this, it reduces stress in just about all situations. But how? Betsy tells us, “Music helps children learn to keep their emotions in check: as music is filled with transitional movements from verse to refrain, Self-Regulation skills are practiced, and when young children are allowed to practice through play, learning soars.” It seems to be that magic combination of group music making, coupled with physical movement, that builds a sense of safety. “Using music activities on a daily or weekly basis, helps children feel the security of a playfully structured environment,” says Betsy.
Music and movement – it’s a powerful combination.
“I have not found another teaching tool like music that
-captures a group of children’s brains for extended periods of time
-while also firing their brains on all cylinders,
-while being easily repeatable
-literally lowering the stress in the environment
-and simultaneously speaking to all learning styles at the same time.”
– Betsy Flanagan[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”The Magic of Music” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%238224e3″][vc_column_text]Because music allows children to increase skill acquisition speed, learning goals are reached faster. And as we have discussed in previous posts, when young children have moments with caring adults – parents, educators, caregivers – the lasting impact is increased.
Have you ever had a challenging time getting your little one to school or picking them up – maybe because he didn’t want to leave a given situation? Well…Betsy has just the prescription for that! Music Rituals, songs coupled with short activities, can ease these moments. “Hello Song is the easiest tool to incorporate for pick-up time at school and for when family members return home. Hello songs that include verses with touch, smiling, and hugging are most effective for refilling the child’s love tank after having missed the parent/family during the school day, or missing the parent who has been gone to work all day. Music is important in this function, as music not only fires the entire brain, but it is also inherently easily repeatable with built-in verses and refrains…and fun of course!” [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]As you might imagine, these rituals help build positive connections between parent/child and teacher/child. “The connectedness, the synchrony that children feel when engaging with others in music activities, is priceless for relationship development. Trust and a feeling of safety between two people is required to develop a relationship, and music activities supply those elements,” says Betsy. [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=” Conference Session Takeaway” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%238224e3″][vc_column_text]What does Betsy for hope those who attend her sessions as learning outcomes?
1. Attendees will learn to integrate impactful music & movement activities into their lesson plans and home visits to accelerate learning, increase joy, and reduce stress.
2. Attendees will receive all songs presented to allow for immediate application in their programs.
3. Attendees will understand each activity’s developmental benefits as related to the Head Start Five Domains.
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]So…if you are at the National Head Start Conference and Expo next week, join Betsy for these exciting sessions! Click here and we’ll save you a seat! If you are unable to attend the conference, contact us about how the Kindermusik curricula and our highly rated professional development can benefit you, your students, and your school.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Betsy Flanagan obtained her Bachelor’s in Music Education (summa cum laude), Kindergarten thru 12th Master’s degree from Illinois State University in Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance, and has completed her Doctoral coursework in Choral Conducting from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana where she was awarded a Fellowship on staff. Betsy has taught children of all ages and backgrounds in public grade schools, high schools, universities, summer camps and also privately in her home studio for over 30 years, providing her students high quality instruction together with passionate motivation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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.
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.
This month Head Start celebrates 50 years of life change and we love being able to celebrate this milestone with them at NHSA’s Annual Head Start Conference and Expo. However, it also got us thinking about how music also supports life change in children and families. In fact, we know from experience—and by hearing from the Head Start and Early Head Start programs that use the Kindermusik curricula—that music gets kids ready for learning! So, we put together a list of 50 reasons why music gives kids a lifetime of opportunity.
But first, see how music is changing the lives of these kids and MS421:
50 Reasons Why Music Gives Kids a Lifetime of Opportunity
Music improves phonological awareness.
Music can effectively teach children self-regulation, which research indicates can be a key factor in early school success.
Moving to music helps children become aware of the space around them and strengthens spatial awareness.
Patterns in music help children recognize patterns in math.
Music refines auditory discrimination.
Rhymes and fingerplays give practice with ordering, which is an early math skill.
Musicians have better memories when compared to their peers.
Actively participating in music classes gives young children an opportunity to learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate.
Fingerplays and playing instruments supports fine motor skills development.
Children love music and learning through music teaches them to love learning!
Rhythm skills or lack thereof could predict reading disabilities leading to early intervention.
Music increases auditory sequencing ability.
Music heightens oral language development.
Music enriches vocabulary development.
Steady beat skills give children the ability to read fluidly.
For babies, moving to music in a caregiver’s arms develops babies’ vestibular system, which is responsible for helping the brain understand gravity, gain balance, and develop spatial awareness.
Music enhances speaking skills.
Dancing and moving to music supports cross-lateral movement, spatial awareness, eye-hand coordination, and eye-tracking—foundational skills for reading.
Participating in music classes supports social and emotional development.
Listening to soothing music can help teach young children to learn how to relax.
Pairing a word with a movement increases children’s understanding of the concept even before they can speak.
Musical activities stimulate development in every area of the brain: vision, balance, speech, behavior, sensation, skill, movement, and emotion.
Learning to play a musical instrument or sing can help disadvantaged children strengthen their reading and language skills by improving the way their nervous systems process sounds.
Musical ensemble experiences help children to listen closely and work together as they play-along and sing-along together as a group.
Circle dances create a sense of community, belonging, and self-esteem.
Early experiences with music spark the brain connections and neural networks that shape the brain and impact how it will function later in life.
Music encourages children to move and movement stimulates the release of chemicals in a child’s brain that support memory and learning.
Music provides an outlet for self-expression.
Music teaches children sequencing.
Through music, children gain practice recognizing the connections between sounds and symbols.
Singing songs and speaking chants and nursery rhymes improves language development.
Pairing a word with a movement helps young children better understand the concept.
Music and movement provides many opportunities for fine- and gross-motor skills development.
Music helps children gain active listening skills.
Children with early musical training experience advanced executive function skills during cognitive testing.
Research shows that the areas of the brain that process music and language are shared.
Actively participating in a music class impacts all seven areas of social-emotional development, including confidence, curiosity, intentionality, self-control, relatedness, capacity to communicate, and cooperativeness.
Research shows that when children engage in learning through movement that it helps them be more focused and it improves their reading, writing, and fine motor skills.
Music makes classroom routines and transitions easier for children of all abilities.
Researchers from Michigan State University found that 93 percent of STEM graduates reported musical training as a child compared to only 34 percent of the average adult.
Participation in the arts, including music classes, encourages “out-of-the-box” thinking.
Music helps kids use their imagination.
Learning to read musical notation uses a similar set of cognitive skills and pattern recognition to those found in reading.
Music teaches children how to relax and supports a good night’s sleep.
Music- and rhyme-based play encourages children to practice perception, production, word recognition, and memory for words, and phonemes—all key foundations for phonological awareness.
Different genres of music teach children about the world around them.
The benefits of musical training as children protects the brain in later years, specifically in the ability to parse, sequence, and identify sounds.
Children with better musical skills, such as the ability to tap to a steady beat or repeat rhythm patters, also perform better on grammar tests when compared to peers.
Learning to play a musical instrument or to sing can help disadvantaged children strengthen their reading and language skills by improving the way their nervous systems process sounds.
Want to learn more about the benefits of music and the research behind these 50 reasons? Visit www.kindermusik.com
Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell a freelance writer in the Atlanta area. She could give 500 more reasons why music gives children a lifetime of opportunity.
Preschool teachers notice the signs long before the children do. Boxes of sharpened and unused crayons. Full canisters of tempura paints. New bags of sand for the sensory table. The smell of the freshly laminated name tags. Yes, all signs point to a new school year starting soon!
At the beginning of each school year, preschool teachers gather more than new supplies for the classroom. They also gather key information about the children by identifying and describing each child’s development in various domains. This benchmarking helps educators support the growth of each child to his or her fullest potential throughout the year. Our early childhood curriculum uses music and movement to support the development and learning across and within domains. We use music to reach children of all abilities and in a classroom of children exhibiting a range of skills and competences.
Whether used in a preschool, Head Start or Early Head Start program, public school, or other early learning setting, Kindermusik’s early childhood curriculum delivers proven results. In fact, children participating for just 30 minutes a week experience a 32 percent more literacy gain than other children. Here are just some of the ways we use music, movement, and stories to help children reach standard benchmarks.
5 ways our early childhood curriculum helps children reach benchmarks
Our Storytime gives preschool teachers ways to ask and answer questions about key details such as the plot or the characters. We know that children benefit from hearing the story multiple times, so it’s repeated weekly in each unit for preschoolers to become familiar with plot, characters, settings, and main events.
Our Hosted Teaching CDs provide brief introductions with key information about a story’s topic and setting. In the second half of each unit, lessons pose a range of recall, inferential, compare/contrast, and beyond-the-text questions. At the end of storytime, the lessons give preschoolers opportunities to ask or answer questions about the story that can help deepen their understanding of the story or subject.
Our songs and poems use rhyme to improve phonological awareness. Research shows that lyrics can help young children improve their comprehension and build their vocabulary and listening skills. Plus, the engaging nature of music helps motivate young children to learn. And, of course, building vocabulary, comprehension, and listening skills are all part of the preschool standards.
Our songs, poems, rhymes, and rituals inspire children to acquire vocabulary incidentally by reading and listening to stories. The texts’ illustrations and activities give children tools to learn new vocabulary through both seeing and doing. To ensure comprehension, teachers often pause the Hosted Teaching CD and ask questions to assess learning as well as answer student questions.
Each unit also includes explicit vocabulary instruction. Words essential to songs and poems appear on picture cards and are introduced through direct instruction or by modeling during group discussions. Research supports the use of direct vocabulary instruction, including the effectiveness of having young children learn robust, academic words.