Take it outside—the benefits of music that is!

Ah, summertime. Warmer temperatures, playing in sprinklers, catching fireflies, and walking barefoot in the grass—summer is the perfect season to “take it outside.” In the world of childcare curriculum development, it can also mean the season of the slide. No, not the slide found at the local playground or park, but the summer slide, which refers to what can happen to the early literacy and language, early math or other cognitive development skills of children who do not participate in learning activities over the summer.
KindermusikPresents_ABCMusicAndMe_AGlobalEarlyChildhoodCurriculum[1]Thankfully, the benefits of music engage children in learning throughout the year. Summertime can be the perfect season to grab a CD player and take the educational activities outside as part of a childcare summer curriculum. Our early childhood curriculum, ABC Music & Me, includes 3-package units to make it easy to engage children in early literacy and language development as part of a summer camp or as part of summer programming. Plus, Kindermusik includes @Home activities to connect what happens at school with the every day routines and rituals of a family’s life.

3 summer programming options to take the benefits of music outside

1. Wiggle & Grow celebrates the unique joys of young toddlers. Children will love the songs, stories, and games and early childhood educators will love helping  them practice a  wide variety of skills such as gross and fine motor, turn-taking, social skills, and active listening.
The summer-friendly 3-unit package includes themes: Up in the Sky, Marvelous Me, Time for Lunch
Sneak-peek at one of the activities from Kindermusik@Home that supports parent involvement in early childhood education:
Kindermusik@Home Sky Counting From “Up in the Sky”: Sky Counting
Learning number words (e.g., one, two, three, four) is the first number sense skill. Research shows that number sense is a critical early predictor of future mathematics success. A sky full of clouds, airplanes, blimps, and more… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…families will love counting them all.
 2. Laugh & Learn encourages preschoolers’ natural love of music, storytelling, and imaginative play with age-appropriate activities that introduce early music concepts and foster independence, social and emotional skills, language growth and self-control.
The 3-unit summer-friendly package includes themes: Home Sweet Home, Let’s Play, On the Go
Sneak-peek at one of the activities from Kindermusik@Home that supports parent involvement in early childhood education:
Home on the Hive Kindermusik@HomeFrom “Home Sweet Home” Home on the Hive
Measurement is one of the core areas of early math. In the activity, families will enjoy comparing relative size and position of the bees in the hive.
3. Move & Groove engages students in music and movement activities such as songs, rhymes, and dances that also promote creativity, social-emotional skills, physical coordination, confidence and more. Plus, language rich content boosts vocabulary while strengthening cognitive and literacy skills to help increase school readiness!
The 3-unit summer-friendly package includes: Sounds Abound, Jazz Kitchen, and Dance with Me
Sneak-peek at one of the activities from Kindermusik@Home that supports parent involvement in early childhood education:
From Sounds Abound: Can You Guess What Song? 
Kindermusik@Home Guess What SongIn this game, children are asked to identify a familiar song by listening to the sounds presented through a voice humming. Sounds simple—but to be successful, children must process the sounds, connect them to the music and lyrics of songs they know, and then recall the name of the song. Processing skills are the primary skills being exercised here. Processing, or the ability to perceive information, is an important cognitive skill that starts developing rapidly during the preschool and early school years.

Want to learn more about taking the benefits of music outside at your preschool or childcare center as part of your summer programming? Email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.


Increase parent involvement in early childhood education with a Breakfast Club

Looking for an easy and fun way to increase parent involvement in early childhood education? Start a Breakfast Club. In a recent issue of the NAEYC publication, Teaching Young Children, Lynn A. Manfredi shares her success at inviting parents to join the class during breakfast time. In the morning, parents eat with their children, connect with other parents and the teachers, and children start the day surrounded by people who love and care for them.
“In my family child care program, we start the day with a healthy breakfast. When I asked parents if they would like to join us while we eat, Breakfast Club was born,” Manfredi explains in the article, Building a Community through Breakfast. “My relationships with families and their relationships with each other have blossomed. It is family engagement at its best!”

Breakfast Club ideas to use as part of an early childhood program

In our early childhood curriculum, we include materials for families to use together at home that connect the classroom learning with the home environment. Here are a few Kindermusik@Home ideas to try at your Breakfast Club and share with parents!

For Newborn to 1 year

Kindermusik@HomeCuddle & Bounce: First Foods from Around the World
Opinions about what solids babies should eat, in what order, and at what intervals…well, they’re endless and ongoing!
Check out some recipes for “baby’s first foods” from around the world!
Tip for Parent Involvement in early childhood education: Share this activity with parents as they eat breakfast or use the link in an email to invite parents to attend.

For 1 to 2 years

Sing & Play: Let’s Make Toast
As simple as it seems, a piece of toast offers all kinds of opportunities to help young children develop fine-motor skills. Provide toast for families to eat during Breakfast Club as well as child-safe plastic knives.
Kindermusik@HomeTip for Parent Involvement in early childhood education: With the help of a parent, let children use a plastic knife to spread some butter, margarine, or cream cheese on a piece of toast. Use a spoon to scoop some jelly! Child will develop his or her grasp and practice wrist rotation. If children are not quite ready for the spreading action, line up a row of raisins or pieces of cereal and lead children to place them on the toast, one at a time. This gets the thumb and forefinger working together (a.k.a., pincer grasp) and develops hand-eye coordination (a.k.a., visual-motor integration).

For 2 to 3 years

Kindermusik@HomeWiggle & Grow: Fruit, Fruit Where Are You?
Memory is an excellent game that can encourage the development of numerous early childhood skills that go beyond simple visual processing.
Tip for Parent Involvement in early childhood education: At breakfast, extend the benefits of this game by using the images on the cards as oral language enhancers and fun conversation starters about color and preferences (e.g., “Which is your favorite food to eat?”, “What food did we see that was red?”).

For 4 to 5 years

Move & Groove: Let’s Make Fruit Rainbows
Kindermusik@HomeHealthy fruits come in a variety of shapes and colors, which makes them perfect (and fun!) for practicing patterns. Identifying, creating, and extending patterns is a critical early math skill that is also a prerequisite to more advanced math.
Tip for Parent Involvement in early childhood education: Provide fruit for parents and children to make patterns. Parents can start a pattern and encourage children to finish it and vice versa.

Looking for more ideas on increasing parent involvement?

Learn how using music in the early childhood classroom connects with parents and supports the cognitive development in children, including early math, science, literacy, and language skills.

Investing in children through parental involvement in early childhood education

Kindermusik quote editedWe talk a lot about early childhood education around here. We know—as Ed Markey said: “Education is not only a ladder of opportunity, but it is also an investment in our future.” Children, especially those most at-risk students, receive even more benefits from participating in an early childhood curriculum that prepares them for a lifetime of learning!
In a perfect world, early childhood education involves three key ingredients: the child, the teacher, and family involvement in education. Without all three, our investment in early childhood education—and the child—does not yield the biggest returns—measurable and immeasurable.
Of course, a parent is a child’s first and most important teacher. We say that time and time again. When a child attends a preschool, daycare, or other learning environment outside the home, family involvement in education remains a pivotal part of the process. While teachers, administrators, and parents share the common bond of the child, some programs more successfully manage to engage this learning community by promoting respectful and reciprocal caring relationships. What can we learn from those who do it really well?

Getting high marks in family involvement in education

Anne Douglass, PhD., at the University of Massachusetts in Boston wanted to find the

(Source: AParentinSilverspring.com/)
(Source: AParentinSilverspring.com/)

answer. She recently researched ways to increase parental involvement in early childhood education in a daycare or preschool setting. She wanted to answer:

  1. What accounts for the gap between the desire of the early childhood education programs to partner with families and actual practices with families?
  2. What do teachers of early childhood curriculum need to effectively partner with families?
  3. What factors promote or impede the implementation of family support and engagement strategies?

In this small study, Douglass compared the teachers and parents, structures, and processes within four early childhood education programs: two with “high quality” family involvement and two with “low quality.”  She found two distinctive characteristics of successful preschools, Head Start programs, and daycares with parent involvement in early childhood education:

  1. Administrators modeled caring professional relationships and shared power within the school, which included leadership opportunities for classroom teachers, training, and staff appreciation.
  2. The preschool utilized specific structures to promote caring and shared power, including teacher supervision that intentionally involved discussing multiple perspectives in solving a problem.

An early childhood curriculum that increases parental involvement in early childhood education

ABCMMEINTL_LOGO_LiteracyLanguage_OneLineABC Music & Me uses music and movement to teach young children early literacy and language, social and emotional skills, and other vital skills proven to help set a child up for success. We intentionally created ABC Music & Me to include resources for teachers and parents that increase family involvement in education. As Douglass’s study indicates, teacher training impacts not only a teacher’s ability in the classroom but also the engagement of children’s parents. Our early childhood curriculum includes teacher training choices from half-day trainings to demonstration DVDs. We also include access to materials for families to use together at home that supports both the classroom learning and a parent’s role as a child’s first and best teacher.

For more information about bringing this early childhood curriculum to your preschool, Head Start program, or daycare, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

5 reasons why family involvement in education matters to ELL students

Parental Involvement Supports Early Literacy Developement

Parental Involvement Supports Early Literacy DevelopementParent is another word for teacher—regardless of what any thesaurus says! (It’s also another word for nurse, doctor, chef, driver…) So, of course, parent involvement in early childhood matters. Studies continue to highlight the importance of family involvement in education, especially in regards to early language and literacy development. After all, we’ve said it before: a parent is a child’s first and best teacher.
However, unlike professional teachers, most parents do not have formal training in early childhood education or teaching English to children. Thankfully, parents do not need formal education in order to support their children learning English as a second language (or as a first!). They do need 20 minutes a day, English language books, and a comfortable place to read together. Here’s why:

5 reasons why parent involvement in education through reading makes a difference to English Language Learners

  1. Reading together promotes language and literacy development in both languages.
  2. Reading to children increases their vocabulary acquisition.
  3. Parents who read to their children improve their child’s chances of success in school-based literacy programs, including an ESL curriculum.
  4. Children’s reading achievement, vocabulary, and comprehension skills improve when their parents read to them. Plus, parents who are also learning English as a second language gain practice, too!
  5. Children develop a positive awareness of the structure of stories, the language of stories, the nature of reading behavior, and the sounds of the language.

ESL activities for children to do at home

ABC English & Me - Teaching English to Children through MusicDuring our ESL curriculum development, we intentionally created content for families to use together at home to support the classroom learning and parental involvement in early childhood education. ABC English & Me includes thematic 30-minute lessons for classroom teachers to use with English language learners between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. Children learn English vocabulary and expression in a musical environment that also connects the classroom learning with the learning at home through Kindermusik@Home. These monthly online home materials include ESL activities for children, a new English language eBook each month, English songs for kids, and more.

Get more information on teaching English to childrenaround the world with Kindermusik and ABC English & Me.

5 ideas to involve the whole family in being green

(Source: Washington Trails Association)
(Source: Washington Trails Association)

Sustainability for kids can start with a seed—literally and figuratively. We put together five ways to involve the whole family in protecting the environment for kids. From planting a garden to planting the knowledge about the importance of sustainability, we think you and your family will enjoy “going green!”

5 ideas for family involvement in education that will have you seeing green

  1. Take a hike. Parental involvement in early childhood education looks different in various settings from preschool to home to the grocery store. To a child, every setting—and every moment—can be a teachable one. Going on a hike together can be the ideal place to investigate a local ecosystem, look for signs of the changing season, and gain an overall appreciation of the world outdoors. Plus, by bringing an extra garbage bag and gloves to pick up trash along the way, it’s also an easy way to work in recycling activities for kids.
  2. Go green for the holidays. Make the holidays fun while also supporting a green environment for kids.  Use LED lights for decorative lighting. Compost pumpkin remains and recycle Christmas trees instead of throwing them away. Buy from local farmers for your holiday feasts. Decrease your carbon footprint and purchase holiday gifts from local merchants and artisans.
  3. Plant a garden. You don’t need an acre of land to teach your children that food doesn’t grow at the grocery store. All you need is sunlight, water, and dirt. A windowsill is the perfect spot to grow herbs. A back deck or patio can grow beautiful tomatoes. Save the apple seeds from your child’s snack and plant them in a small container. Your child can watch a little apple tree grow!
  4. Read all about it! Combine your child’s love of reading with these 20 children’s books that show the importance of sustainability for kids.
  5. Recycle together. Recycling activities for kids can be fun and support family involvement in education at the same time. Recycling that cereal box? Give your children the “job” of checking all items for “Labels for Education” or “Box Tops.” Many preschools and elementary schools collect them as part of their fundraising efforts.

At Kindermusik, we believe in the power of music to unlock a child’s fullest potential while also supporting family involvement in education. In addition, we believe that protecting the environment for kids and being mindful about the way we conduct business is part of the process.

You can read more about how our passion for supporting sustainability for kids impacts our business decisions.

4 new research-proven benefits of music on children

why_music_quotes14An elementary school teacher wrote: “The education of a child involves three major components: teacher, student, parents.” We absolutely agree that parent involvement in early childhood education in collaboration with classroom teachers best equips children for a successful learning environment at school and in the home.  Music can help build connections between the teacher, student, and parents.
The benefits of music on children and family involvement in education continue to gain the interest of researchers. Two new studies show that making music together in school may improve young children’s behavior and make them like school better, too.

3 benefits of music on children and their social skills

In the first study, four-year-old children were placed in either a “music group” or a “no music group.” The 24 children in the music group played percussion instruments and sang, whereas the other children listened to a story.  After participating in the groups, all the children played games that measured cooperation, helping skills, and problem-solving abilities.

  1. Children in the music group were 30 times more likely to help than those in the other group.
  2. Making music was also shown to improve cooperation among all the children in the ‘music group’ who were six times more likely to cooperate than those in the reading group.
  3. Boys in the music group were four times more likely to problem solve.

Researcher Rie Davies said in a press release: “This study…highlights the needKindermusikClass_SocialEmotionalDevelopment for schools and parents to understand the important role music making has in children’s lives in terms of social bonding and helping behaviors. Music making in class, particularly singing, may encourage pupils with learning differences and emotional difficulties to feel less alienated in the school environment.”

One more of the benefits of music on children

In a separate study looking at the benefits of music on children, researchers from Finland found that children participating in extended music classes liked school better. Nearly 1,000 students participated in the study, which included taking a survey in Year 3 and Year 6 that measured the quality of school life.
“Singing in a choir and ensemble performance are popular activities at extended music classes. Other studies have established that people find it very satisfying to synchronize with one another. That increases affiliation within the group and may even make people like each other more than before. Other subjects in the school do not have as intensive training in synchrony and coordination as music lessons, which could explain part of the phenomenon,” explained the principal investigator of the study, Doctoral Student Päivi-Sisko Eerola, in a press release.

Music and family involvement in education

ABC Music & Me is our research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 30-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement in early childhood education. Whether used as a daycare curriculum, early literacy curriculum, or even as an after school curriculum, the benefits of music on children includes early language development, vocabulary acquisition, strengthened fine- and gross-motor skills, and as the research shows cultivates sharing and boosts school satisfaction.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me in your school, preschool, or daycare to boost early literacy and language skills and increase parent involvement in education, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

6 websites and mobile apps for kids that support early literacy development

iStock_000002617208XSmall mom-boy readingTalking to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers throughout the day, reading together, and playing learning games for kids all help support early literacy and language development. When babies react to their mothers’ voices, they are responding to the familiar cadence of the language. While sitting in a parent’s lap listening to a story before bedtime, toddlers begin to see and recognize letters and sounds and the proper way to read a book. As preschoolers practice writing letters—and

even their names—they foster phonetic awareness. Throughout this process, children look to their parents as their first and best teacher!

As creators of early childhood curricula, including an early literacy curriculum, ABC Music & Me, we know just how important family involvement in education can be to a young child’s early literacy skills and language development. So, we pulled together six of our favorite websites and mobile apps for kids that support early literacy development and a parent’s role as a child’s first and best teacher. Enjoy!

6 websites and mobile apps for kids that support early literacy development

  1. Reading Rainbow: We love Reading Rainbow! LeVar Burton started RRKidz when the beloved show was canceled so he could continue to bring reading and education to kids using the newest and best technology. This mobile app for kids offers a trusted library of books and video field trips to visit fascinating people and places. New books and videos are added every week expanding the collection. Kindermusik will be partnering with Reading Rainbow to bring a “Musical Island” to the app!
  2. WeGiveBooks: We Give Books supports parent involvement in education and early literacy skills by providing online books for families to read together. Using any device with Internet access, parents can read books to children at home or on the go. The available children’s books include selections of fiction and non-fiction for children through 10 years old.
  3. PBSKids Island: Together, you and your child can visit PBSKids Island and play learning games for kids that feature PBS favorites, such as Sesame Street, Martha Speaks, and Super WHY! While not an early literacy curriculum, these educational activities for kids support early literacy development through letter recognition, rhyming, and even spelling challenges.
  4. Backyard Phonics Adventure: This mobile app for kids uses letters and pictures to teach letter recognition and beginning phonics. Children match a beginning sound to a letter or a beginning sound to another picture with the same beginning sound.
  5. Starfall.com: Many preschools and elementary schools use Starfall.com as a supplement to an early childhood or early literacy curriculum. This free website includes learning games for kids that teach letter recognition and the corresponding sounds, phonics, and more.
  6. Kindermusik@Home: Available as part of enrollment in Kindermusik, Kindermusik@Home supports a parent’s role as a child’s first and best teacher while also providing fun learning games for kids. Accessible Kindermusik@Homefrom any smart phone, iPad, tablet, or laptop, Kindermusik@Home provides educational activities for kids that support early literacy development, such as eBooks, active listening games, virtual field trips, plus an abundance of ideas and developmental insights behind using music and movement to support a child’s early literacy development. The activities connect what happens in the classroom to the everyday routines and rituals of families.

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 early literacy curriculum into your classroom while also increasing parental involvement, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.



5 ways Kindermusik prepares PARENTS for Kindergarten

From Kindermusik to Kindermusik

Of course, Kindermusik helps prepare young children for school success. (You can read just 9 of the ways our music classes for babies, toddlers, big kids, and families lay the groundwork for success in elementary school.) But, Kindermusik also prepares parents for Kindergarten. Here’s how:

5 ways Kindermusik prepares parents for Kindergarten, including parental involvement in early childhood education

  1. You get real-life experience with your child learning independently in a classroom setting. Kindermusik grows with your child. As your child progresses from infant to toddler to preschooler to big kid Kindermusik classes, your little one (and you!) slowly transition from being together in the classroom all of the time to the parents coming in at the end of class.
  2. You learn how to connect the classroom learning to your everyday lives. In class, Educators share the developmental benefits behind the activities so you learn both the "hows" and the "whys." Plus, Kindermusik@Home gives parents activities for kids, including the music and eBooks from class so the learning happens throughout the week. In later years, when your child comes home from Kindergarten with homework, your family already naturally integrates the learning in fun and engaging ways throughout the week.
  3. Parent involvement in early childhood education becomes second-nature. You are your child’s first and best teacher. As your child grows, more teachers will enter your child’s life, but you maintain the top spot. You will understand from personal experience the positive and unique impact of parental involvement in early childhood education.
  4. All of those animal noises and sounds you make in Kindermusik and at home with your child will make you a highly requested Mystery Reader in Kindergarten. It’s true. Dr. Seuss, Piggie & Gerald, and other favorite children’s books just sound better when the one reading the story can make the silly sounds! So, go ahead, practice your elephant trumpet!
  5. The social skills and confidence your child gains in Kindermusik will make the transition to Kindergarten easier for your little one—and for you. We can’t promise you won’t shed a tear or two, but your child will be more comfortable in a classroom setting, exhibit stronger inhibitory control abilities, and more easily make new friends.

Come see for yourself how Kindermusik prepares you and your child for Kindergarten. Try a free class today!



FOL Fridays: Pairing Language with Movement

Pairing language with movement sets the stage for cognitive and kinesthetic learning.  The right hemisphere of the brain is our emotional side where much of our creativity is channeled.  The left hemisphere organizes logical skills, such as language.  When children are engaged in movements determined by the lyrics, the brain automatically cross-references both hemispheres, mapping creativity and logic (Fishbourne, G. 1998)
Tips for parents:  Family involvement in education can be as simple as turning on a favorite recording with lyrics or singing a favorite tune. Listen for a bit and then discuss the different ways you could move based on the words of the song.  As you dance together with your child, you can also label some of those movements, further strengthening the impact of the “moving to learn” experience. Plus, parent involvement in early childhood education through singing and dancing strengthens your role as your child’s first and best teacher.

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

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 play.kindermusik.com.
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 abcinfo@kindermusik.com.