3 Musical Ways to Support Neurodivergent Learners

Child dances to music with scarves. Interpretive dance is an ideal multisensory outlet for neurodivergent learners.

It may seem counterintuitive, but neurodivergent learners thrive with the right multi-sensory activities. Music—a multi-sensory activity that stimulates all parts of the brain at once—promotes everything from self-regulation to emotional expression.

And that turns tricky transitions and long days into beautiful learning moments (for children and their special grownups).

Continue reading “3 Musical Ways to Support Neurodivergent Learners”

Music & Movement Benefits: Why We Rock, Bounce, Jump & Dance

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music and movementKindermusik is as much about movement as it is about music.  Ask any educator or parent – there’s no need to go to the gym on Kindermusik day!  That’s because we know that children learn best by doing – it’s called experiential learning.  And now a new study highlighted in Science Daily demonstrates just how powerful the doing-learning-remembering connection really is.  There really is such a thing as “motor memory!”
Multiple research studies prove what Kindermusik has capitalized on for a long time – movement is KEY to learning.  In fact, the movement we do in our Kindermusik classes is essential for the children in many ways.

The powerful, but happy, combination of movement and music develops:

  • The Vestibular System.

A well-developed vestibular system provides emotional security, good muscle tone, develops auditory language processing, and visual-spatial processing. All this while you’re having fun dancing!

  • Neural Pathways.

Moving in a variety of ways gives your child a chance to ‘see the world’ from many perspectives, thus strengthening neural pathways, which carry messages from your child’s mind, guiding her senses and motor skills.

  • Fine Motor Skills.

During the first part of life, we’re learning to walk, so gross motor activities dominate the child’s movement. Now she can focus on activities that encourage the development of fine muscles, so she can increase skills that require finger and hand movements such as putting together a simple puzzle, painting with a paintbrush, turning a page of a book or stringing beads.

  • Physical Confidence.

Body awareness is important in the development of the child’s physical confidence. This developmental goal may be met by engaging in movement activities which focus on body part movement, whole body movement in one place, and whole body movement while traveling in space.

  • Creativity and Imagination.

Listening and responding to music and movement activities helps develop pretend play skills while also helping your child assimilate music and movement concepts such as fast, slow, loud, quiet, bumpy, smooth, straight and curvy.

  • Thinking Skills.

While in motion, the brain acts like a flight simulator, constantly inventing, moving mental models to project onto a changing world. This is an extraordinary mentally complex operation which builds thinking skills.

Movement is truly the key to the kind of learning that sticks and to the kind of joyful interaction that leads to a lifelong love of music and a lifetime of benefiting from the rich foundation of an early childhood music and movement program like Kindermusik.

Try A Free Kindermusik Class
Come move, sing, dance, play, and learn with us!  Try a FREE Kindermusik class today and see how music will move you… and your child.

Move for fun, move to learn!

It’s always great to have some physical activities for kids that you can pull out of your pocket, so to speak, and enjoy together.  And in our opinion, one of the best activities is combining music and movement!
Experts tell us that movement is key to learning.  That’s why movement is so foundational to our Kindermusik classes.  But movement, especially with music, can also be the key to your sanity, especially on a cold, rainy, stuck-in-the-house day.  To help you out with a little fresh inspiration, here are a few of our favorite Kindermusik movement activities for kids:
little girl dancingFinger plays and toe wiggles – These are the smallest of all movements, but they can be lots of fun!  Think “Eency Weency Spider” or “This Little Piggy.”
Free dance – Just turn on some music and dance to your heart’s content.  Hint: Have a playlist of several songs to prolong the enjoyment.
Moving with a prop – Grab a scarf and bounce, twirl, or swish to the music.  You can also try it with a stuffed animal too.
Rocking – Rocking can be more calming or more active, depending your mood and the kind of music you choose.
Choreographed movement – Preschoolers and big kids can really get their creative juices flowing if they get to decide what steps go with what parts of the song.  Forward-and-back, side-to-side, ’round and around, zig-zagging, and more!

Try A Free Kindermusik ClassKindermusik is the world’s leader in music and movement classes for young children.  Come sing, sway, dance, and play with us at a free preview class today!

Written by Theresa Case, whose Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in beautiful Upstate South Carolina is proudly among the top 1% in the world.

Why teaching English to children at a young age matters

(Source: Momsteam.com)
(Source: Momsteam.com)

The age at which we begin teaching English as a second language (or any second language for that matter!) to a child makes a difference. Research already indicates that children who learn how to speak a second language at a very young age are more likely to sound like a native speaker. Now, a new joint study by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Oxford University shows that the brains of adults who learn more than one language at an early age look different when compared to the brains of adults who learned another language as older children.

Learning a second language is mind altering (really!)

By comparing MRI scans of bilingual and monolingual participants, the researchers found similar patterns of brain development if an adult learned one or two languages from infancy. For adults who learned a second language later in childhood, researchers found that the left inferior frontal cortex became thicker and the right inferior frontal cortex became thinner. Learning a second language later in life actually changes the brain! These areas of the brain are responsible for certain cognitive functions such as thought, language, consciousness, and memory.
“The later in childhood that the second language is acquired, the greater are the changes in the inferior frontal cortex,” said the lead author of the research study, Dr. Denise Klein, in a press release. “Our results provide structural evidence that age of acquisition is crucial in laying down the structure for language learning.”
The researchers compare acquiring a second language later in childhood to acquiring complex motor skills such as juggling. They predict that these brain changes in older ELL students might help researchers understand why learning a second language later in life can prove to be more difficult.

ABC English & Me - Teaching English to Children through MusicRead more about the cognitive benefits of an elementary ESL curriculum on young ELL students, and how our ESL curriculum, which uses English songs for kids, music and movement, and Total Physical Response, puts it into practice.

5 Reasons Why Music Classes are Good for Babies' Brains

BabyMusicClasses_KindermusikInternational_BannerEvery activity that your baby participates in contributes to his or her brain development, but the quality, variety, and nature of the activity shape the way neural circuits are designed.  Every experience stimulates certain neural circuits and leaves others idle.  Those that are consistently activated over time will be strengthened, while those that frequently left idle may be discarded.  (adapted from zerotothree.org)

That’s why…  The combination of a weekly Kindermusik class and utilizing the music and resources in your Kindermusik @Home Materials are so powerful.  Repetition strengthens the brain!

“…[O]ver time, the brain reacts to routine stimulus by lowering levels of stimulation.  Anything new causes the body to release adrenaline, and adrenaline acts a memory fixative.  According to Arnold Scheibel, Director of the Brain Research Institute as UCLA, ‘Unfamiliar activities are the brain’s best friend.’”  (from Smart Start!:  Building Brain Power in the Early Years, by Pam Schiller)

That’s why…  Kindermusik classes regularly include a mix of new and repeated activities.

Holding your little one in a variety of positions and moving him or her in different ways allows him/her to experience a variety of perspectives, which stimulates brain development.

That’s why… Your Kindermusik educator will give you lots of ideas for safe and enjoyable ways to move your baby, and your Kindermusik @Home Materials will give you a variety of music to move to at home.

Environments enriched with music and movement allow brain cells and neuropathways to be strengthened and expanded.  With more interconnections, the brain learns and remembers more effectively.

That’s why… Kindermusik, with the way it so effectively combines music and movement, is such a powerful way to stimulate learning and brain development.

Your baby must be emotionally involved in an activity to learn.  Incoming sensory stimulation is processed first through the brain’s non-rational, non-conscious limbic system, the seat of emotion, and only then goes to the neocortex, or rational brain.

That’s why… Your Kindermusik classes will give you lots of opportunities to connect and bond with your baby at deep and lasting emotional levels.

– Compiled and written by Theresa Case, who has an award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC

FOL Fridays: Movement with Instrument Play

Music and Movement at Kindermusik

The developing brain is wired to learn as the body moves. To achieve the precision of the mature brain, stimulation in the form of movement and sensory experiences during the early developing years is necessary. Providing children with sensory-motor experiences, including activities that integrate visual information, sound, and find-motor movements, stimulate and strengthen the brain’s wiring patterns. When children play instruments, movement and sound come together to create a rich, multisensory experience.


from http://earlychildhood.com/Articles?index.cfm?FuseAction=Article&A=360)

Music and Movement at Kindermusik

Tips for parents:

Who knew that playing instruments could have such significant impact on brain development and learning?! To inspire this kind of learning (and fun!) at home, it takes nothing more than a few favorite instruments and a few favorite recordings on the iPod or CD. For ideas for child-safe instruments, go to the Kindermusik Store and shop by age.

– Contributed by Theresa Case, whose Greenville, SC program, Kindermusik at Piano Central Studios, is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide.

FOL Fridays: Movement and Body Control

During movement activities, children learn to organize the available space in relation to themselves and in relationship to objects and other individuals… this is how they develop body control, spatial awareness, and confidence in the power and ability of their own bodies.  (Linda Carol Edwards, The Creative Arts)

TIP:  Turn on some dancing music and dance around the room together.  Add a prop like a scarf, a ball, or a hoop for more movement and body control fun and learning.

– compiled by Theresa Case, M.Ed., whose Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, South Carolina, is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide