Where are the future scientists? In a music class for kids!

Future scientist?
Future scientist?

At first glance, music classes for kids might not seem like the best place to look for future scientists, technology experts, engineers, or mathematicians. Well, look again! New research indicates that an early childhood music class is exactly where we should look.
Researchers from Michigan State University recently published a study that found that 93 percent of STEM graduates (college students who majored in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) reported musical training as a child compared to only 34 percent of the average adult. STEM graduates also showed an increased involvement in the visual arts, acting, dance, and creative writing.

Benefits of music for children continue through adulthood

“The most interesting finding was the importance of sustained participation in those activities,” said Rex LaMore, director of MSU’s Center for Community and Economic Development, in a press release. “If you started as a young child and continued in your adult years, you’re more likely to be an inventor as measured by the number of patents generated, businesses formed or articles published. And that was something we were surprised to discover.”
According to the research team, participation in the arts, such as music classes for kids, encourages “out-of-the-box thinking.” The STEM graduates reported using those skills they learned in music or art classes—such as analogies, playing, and imagination—to solve complex scientific problems.

Music and learning in early childhood education

3_why_music_rectangle_yellowIn Kindermusik, we know children also use exploration and problem solving to learn what an object does and how it works. We call that process epistemic play. In our early childhood curriculum, we provide many opportunities for children to explore objects in order to better understand how they work. While trying out all the ways to tap, shake, or roll an instrument or stomp, tap, tiptoe our feet, children gain a foundational understanding of how things work. Plus, all this epistemic play supports a child’s overall cognitive development.

Learn more about using music in the early childhood classroom to support the cognitive development in children, including early math, science, literacy, and language skills.

To experience the benefits of music with your child, find a local Kindermusik educator in your area. 

5 musical learning activities that teach school readiness skills

Music class drumDid you know that the benefits of music include preparing a child for school? When intentionally used as part of a pre-K curriculum or preschool curriculum, musical learning can positively impact the cognitive development in children and help children of all abilities be ready to learn at any age. Here are just five ways to use music when teaching children enrolled in a preschool or pre-K curriculum.

5 musical learning activities that support cognitive development in children

  1. Circle dances teach cooperation. Ringing around the rosey gives children more than a pocketful of posies. Choreographed movements require children to cooperate, move in synch with a group, and listen to and follow oral instructions.
  2. Identifying the specific sounds (or timbre) of different instruments teaches children auditory discrimination. The same sound discrimination used in recognizing the difference between the musical note “C” played on a clarinet verses the same note played on a piano by sound—not sight—helps children hear the minute differences between letter sounds or phonemes, which supports early literacy and language development.
  3. Moving to the tempo of the music teaches children to be active listeners. When children respond to the changing tempo of a song—from fast to slow—or when children move slowly when they hear the music change from staccato to legato, they are using their body movements to practice active listening skills.
  4. “Stop and Go” activities with music builds self-regulation skills. Children need to learn to tell their bodies what to do, when to stop, when to go, and when to move on to another activity. When playing a musical learning game of “Freeze Dance,” children learn and practice self-regulation skills by responding to the musical cues.
  5. Finger plays, such as “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” help children learn to coordinate hand, finger, and wrist movements that support fine motor control and precision. Those fine motor skills will help children hold a pencil correctly, use scissors, and even tie their own shoes.

Pre-K curriculum uses musical learning

Early Literacy gains with ABC Music & Me
Our school partners and students benefit from ABC Music & Me – see the research-proven results!

In our preschool curriculum, ABC Music & Me, teaching children includes singing, dancing, and instrument exploration. Throughout all the musical learning, teachers are laying the groundwork for school readiness. Plus, our preschool curriculum includes proven results, in spatial-temporal reasoning, self-control, and even a 32 percent gain in early literacy.

For more information about bringing our pre-k curriculum, preschool curriculum, or Head Start curriculum to your school, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

5 essential skills taught in early childhood education

Source: She Knows Activity Center

In early childhood education, we understand that teaching children involves celebrating the uniqueness of each child and preparing them for academic success beyond the preschool classroom. As creators of a standards-aligned daycare and preschool curriculum, we also know just how important these early years can be to a child’s lifelong learning abilities. Early childhood education may look like fun and games (and it is!) but the skills learned through these “fun and games” as part of a daycare or preschool curriculum can help a child make a smoother transition to Kindergarten.

5 skills taught in early childhood education that prepare a child for Kindergarten

  1. Early literacy skills, including knowing all the letters in the alphabet by sight and sound, vocabulary acquisition, phonological awareness, and print awareness, help prepare a toddler and preschooler for the more rigorous reading instruction in elementary school.

  2. An elementary school classroom usually includes more students and involves more time sitting at a desk when compared to a preschool classroom. Children with strong inhibitory control abilities can sit quietly, stay focused on the task at hand, think before they act, and behave in other appropriate ways.

  3. In Kindergarten, a child’s fine motor skills get a workout with writing letters and words, drawing shapes, using scissors, and even typing on a computer.

  4. Social and emotional skills help a child make friends, share, participate in classroom discussions, and like inhibitory control, can help a child experience fewer classroom behavior challenges.

  5. Children may spend up to 75 percent of classroom time learning through listening. While hearing is one of the five senses, learning how to actively listen takes practice and can also be a foundational skill for literacy and language development.

Preschool curriculum uses music to teach key skills

When used as part of a daycare curriculum, research shows music can engage young ABC Music & Me - Early Literacy and Language Curriculumlearners and teach them these key skills needed for continuing academic success. For example, a new study shows that children participating in ABC Music & Me, our daycare curriculum, 30 minutes each week experience a 32 percent literacy gain when compared to other children.

Schools, preschools, and childcare centers can learn more about using our daycare curriculum, ABC Music & Me, by emailing us at info@abcmusicandme.com

4 reasons to include play in a preschool curriculum

preschoolers playing

Children participating in a daycare curriculum that incorporates play receive immeasurable—and measurable—benefits. Children naturally learn through play that engages all five senses. Plus, children learn just how fun, well, learning can be!

preschoolers playing4 reasons (and tips) to include play in a daycare curriculum

  1. Play gives children the opportunity to try out new ideas and concepts in a safe environment. Cognitive benefits include boosts to imagination, problem solving, and abstract thinking. Tip: Ask and incorporate children’s ideas into the lessons. Learning about farms? Ask children what kind of animals they would see on the farm. What would they sound like? How would they move? You never know what kind of farm children might create together!
  2. When children play together, they practice cooperation, sharing, taking turns, and conflict resolution—all vital skills needed for success in school, at home, and in life! Tip: Point out positive behavior you see throughout the day.
  3. The language benefits of play include storytelling, vocabulary acquisition, communication skills, and even emergent literacy. Tip: After reading a book to the class, create an “And Then” story together. What happens to the characters after the book ends? After each child’s turn as storyteller, say “And then…”
  4. Play provides opportunities for physical development, such as fine- and gross-motor skills, physical challenges, and self-help skills. Tip: Go outside and play. Research shows children can better concentrate and self-regulate after spending time on a playground during the day.

Preschool curriculum uses music (and play!) to promote school-readiness skills

ABC Music & Me is a standards-based supplemental daycare curriculum. All levels of our toddler and preschool curriculum use music, movement, and play to cultivate turn-taking and sharing, improve self-control, enhance creativity, and boost early language development and early literacy.
For more information about bringing our preschool curriculum to your childcare or daycare, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

Public Schools, Elementary Curriculum – Making a Difference with ABC Music & Me

ABC Music & Me Special Education Curriculum - Sycamore Creek Elementary

Teachers at Sycamore Creek Elementary in the Wake County Schools, North Carolina share their experience with ABC Music & Me, and the difference this elementary school curriculum from Kindermusik International has made with their students.

ABC Music & Me Special Education Curriculum - Sycamore Creek Elementary“I began using ABC Music & Me with my developmentally delayed preschool classroom in the fall of 2011 when it was brought into our school system. The program was ready to use out of the box with a few simple modifications for my students with visual impairments. From the first day of use my students fell in love with the songs, instruments and activities from the unit called Laugh & Learn. I really like the way the program has a wide mix of listening, movement, and instrument activities scattered throughout the lessons. This setup keeps the students actively engaged and prevents their attention from wondering.
ABC Music & Me Preschool Curriculum - Sycamore Creek ElementaryIn late 2011 I was moved into a classroom for kindergarten to second grade students with Autism at the same school. The school PTA was looking at purchasing a different music program for the class with the previous teacher. After hearing this I instantly contacted Ms. Kerri, my trainer, from ABC Music & Me and began discussing with her what would be the most appropriate level for my new students. Ms. Kerri and I gathered the needed information and I took the proposal for the unit called Move & Groove back to the PTA. After seeing the proposal and hearing my success with the preschool students the PTA agreed to purchase Move & Groove for our Autism programs. We began using our Move & Groove program in August of this year.
ABC Music & Me Elementary School Curriculum - Sycamore Creek ElementarySchoolThe transition of programs has been a little bit of adjustment for me as I need to become familiar with the content change. I do make some modifications to meet my students’ developmental needs such as shortening the lessons and taking out areas that may be frustrating for them. Overall we have all enjoyed our new program. Through the use of ABC Music & Me all of my students have started to sing, hum or make vocalizations to the music even my students who are non-verbal. We have also discovered that many of our friends have great rhythm. I am so glad that I was introduced to ABC Music & Me and was able to bring the program to my students.”

Trisha Dillon, NBCT ’04
Autism 1 Special Education Teacher
Sycamore Creek Elementary
Wake County Schools, North Carolina

ABC Music & Me Elementary Curriculum - Sycamore Creek Elementary
“Being a new teacher it has been wonderful using ABC Music & Me. The children look forward to it and it is a great outlet for some of our kids who love dance and music.  We have a best practice curriculum in our classroom, so it is always nice to have a program to follow for a certain subject area. The program is easy to use and to follow and that is nice as a new teacher because there are so many other things that I need to take care of. It is nice to have a program that is so easy to use and the kids love so much.”

Cindy Winter
Developmentally Delayed Preschool Classroom Teacher
Sycamore Creek Elementary
Wake County Schools, North Carolina

For more information about ABC Music & Me, email us at: info@abcmusicandme.com

eBooks for Kids during shared book reading in preschool

(Source: The News Tribune DEAN J. KOEPFLER/Staff photographer)

Reading nooks, daily book reading during circle time, bring-your-favorite-book-to-school day, dressing up like the Cat in the Hat for Dr. Seuss’ birthday—the opportunities for preschool teachers to infuse early literacy and language activities into a daycare or toddler curriculum abound. A quick search on Pinterest can quickly add even more ideas! However, discovering age-appropriate and research-supported methods to integrate eBooks and digital learning into a preschool curriculum can be a bit more challenging.

Using eBooks during shared book reading in a preschool curriculum

A new study published in the Journal of Literacy and Technology observed how preschool teachers used eBooks in the classroom. As published in the article, the observations of Kathleen Roskos, PhD and Karen Burstein, PhD focused on preschool teachers’ implementation of a vocabulary-focused, shared book routine; language strategies at the touchscreen; mobile devices to extend the shared reading experience; and children’s learning of 40 target words. The research team wanted to gain a better understanding of using eBooks for kids as an instructional resource in a preschool curriculum.
Over a four-week period, the eight preschool teachers participating in the study imbedded eight eBook shared reading sessions with each eBook being read two times. In addition, the children browsed or reread the eBooks on a digital device. The researchers found that eBooks can support vocabulary acquisition and that teachers easily transitioned from traditional books to eBooks as part of the shared book reading. The teachers used the same reading methods whether using a traditional book or an eBook. However, it came as no surprise that additional digital learning research specifically focused on instructional techniques and strategies are needed to maximize eBook features and support eBook browsing and reading on mobile devices, especially when used with the youngest learners as part of a preschool or toddler curriculum. The researchers noted that eBooks with rich visualizations, sounds and music appear to support early language and literacy, especially for young at-risk students.
You can download the full article, “Descriptive Observations of Ebook Shared Reading at Preschool,” here.

Preschool curriculum uses eBooks and digital learning with music

With twice as many children reading eBooks today than just two years ago, eBooks for kids can become a key component to a preschool or daycare curriculum and a way to increase parent involvement in early childhood education. At Kindermusik International, we know how important it is to implement the latest research (and tools!) on how young children learn best. After all, with more than 35 years of experience creating music classes for toddlers, babies, big kids, and families, as well as standards-aligned preschool and daycare curriculum, we’ve experienced breakthroughs over the years on reaching even the youngest learner.
Kindermusik@HomeIn fact, we continue to create new early childhood curriculum that implements the latest research, including how to use digital learning—and eBooks for kids—in an age-appropriate and effective manner. For example, with Kindermusik@Home parents can easily access favorite Kindermusik songs and activities, music, eBooks, and lyrics—as well as recipes, learning games for kids, crafts, and more in a green-friendly digital format any time from any smart phone, iPad, tablet, laptop, or computer. Families and teachers also love our music apps for kids.

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 daycare curriculum into your classroom, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

5 Ways Music Prepares Children for School

It’s no secret. We love music. Music can move us in profound ways. No question about it. With more than 35 years of experience creating music classes for toddlers, babies, big kids, and families as well as standards-aligned daycare and preschool curriculum, we know the lasting impact music education can have on a child. We also know, as music educator Cheryl Lavender puts it, “The fact that children can make beautiful music is less significant than the fact that music can make beautiful children.”
As if creating beautiful children wasn’t enough, research shows that music can even help prepare children for school. All of that makes us fall in love with music all over again! Here are just five ways music can help prepare children for school. (By the way, we use all of these ways…and more…in our developmentally appropriate and research-based music education programs in private studios, public schools, and childcare centers!)

5 Ways Music Prepares Children for School

  1. Learning to read musical notation uses a similar set of cognitive skills and pattern recognition also found in reading. In our preschool curriculum, ABC Music & Me, and in our Kindermusik classes, when children sing high or low based on whether an image is above or below a line or when children imitate a recorded sound by playing a C-A pattern on an instrument, children are learning the symbolic representation for sounds. Learning musical notation in this way mirrors how listening to and imitating spoken language evolves into reading.
  2. Music gives children many opportunities to practice active listening skills. Developing strong active listening skills prepares children for classroom learning, including language and literacy development. During the school years, children will spend an estimated 50 to 75 percent of classroom time listening to the teacher, to other students, or to media. When children intently listen for the sounds of a specific instrument in a song, use wood blocks to produce a Staccato sound, or move smoothly with scarves when they hear the music change from Staccato to Legato, children are practicing active listening.
  3. Music and movement helps children learn to tell their bodies what to do, when to stop, when to go, and when to move to another activity. Self-regulation is the ability to control one’s own thoughts, feelings, and actions and can be a key ingredient to successfully transitioning into Kindergarten. So, in our music classes when we play a “Stop & Go” game, participate in circle dances, transition from one activity to another, and even share instruments, children learn and practice self-regulation skills. Those same skills will help children pay attention in school and act and behave appropriately, even among the many distractions found in a typical classroom setting.
  4. Music leads children to experience patterns through movement, listening, and playing instruments. Rhythm patterns are combinations of long and short sounds and silences. In our preschool or toddler curriculum, educators may lead the class to “step, step, step, stop” or “ta, ta, ta, rest” with rhythm sticks. This helps children learn rhythm patterns (quarter note, quarter note, quarter note, rest), a basic musical concept. Plus, whole body involvement with patterning not only lays an early foundation for reading music but also for math and literacy.
  5. Through vocal play, children learn to form vowels and consonants, say words and phrases, and imitate rhythm and vocal inflection. Our music classes and daycare curriculum provide many vocal play opportunities through songs, chants, and carefully-crafted activities, such as mimicking the high sounds of birds or the low sounds of frogs. Vocal play using glissando also encourages the expressive qualities of children’s speaking and singing voice as well as vocal range.

To learn more about enrolling in a Kindermusik class, contact a local educator via our Class Locator.

Schools, preschools, and childcare centers can learn more about using our daycare curriculum, ABC Music & Me, by emailing us at info@abcmusicandme.com

Georgia’s PreK program finds ways to improve its preschool curriculum

One of the key attributes of a learner is that the quest for knowledge continues throughout the year—whether you are a 4-year-old learning how to write letters, a teacher attending a training on how to implement a new preschool curriculum, or even an childcare administrator uncovering ways to make your program more effective. As creators of daycare curriculum and other early childhood programs, we continue to monitor and implement the latest findings on how children learn. So, we loved hearing how one of the leaders in universal PreK programs in the United States, commissioned a study to find out how they can better reach children and families.

Georgia’s PreK program looks for ways to improve preschool curriculum

With one of the few state-funded universal PreK programs, Georgia’s PreK program reached 94,000 children throughout the 2011-2012 school year in local school systems, private preschools, and blended Head Start/Georgia’s PreK classrooms. However, Bright from the Start, who administers Georgia’s PreK program, wanted to evaluate the program and uncover ways to increase its effectiveness. In partnership with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, they conducted an evaluation study during the 2011-2012 school year. The study included a random sample of 100 PreK classrooms in the program and assessments

of the language, literacy, math, general knowledge, and behavioral skills of a sample of 509 children.

As published in the Children’s Growth and Classroom Experiences in Georgia’s PreK Program report, the researchers uncovered interesting findings:

Children’s outcomes

  1. Children exhibited significant growth during their PreK year across all domains of learning, including language and literacy skills, math skills, general knowledge, and behavioral skills.
  2. Children who were Spanish‐speaking dual language learners showed growth in skills in both English and Spanish, although their growth tended to be greater in English.

“For many areas, this indicated that they progressed at an even faster rate than would be expected for normal developmental growth,” explained senior scientist Ellen Peisner-Feinberg in a press release.

Two ways to improve Georgia’s PreK program

The report showed that English proficiency, number of English Language Learners in the classroom, and attendance of a PreK program in a local school system predicted greater growth in skills. In addition, researchers identified two ways to improve the overall effectiveness of the preschool curriculum.

  1. Reduce class size
  2. Add bilingual supports during classroom experiences

Preschool curriculum offers bilingual support

ABC Music & Me uses music to promote school-readiness and skills development, including early literacy and language development and social skills in young children. The research-based childcare curriculum aligns with state standards, including the Common Core, and can be especially beneficial for English Language Learners. In addition to our “English Language Learners Strategies Guide” that provides unit-by-unit, lesson-by-lesson tips and tools to use in the classroom, ABC Music & Me includes materials in English and Spanish to increase parent involvement and support the common language spoken in the home.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me as a daycare or preschool curriculum, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

Recommendations for reaching Hispanic ELL preschoolers

As children, many of today’s preschool teachers probably picked up a Spanish word or two while watching Sesame Street. (Anyone else remember Luis looking for agua?)

Now, with people of Hispanic descent making up the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States, those same educators teaching a daycare or preschool curriculum probably can put those words to good use in the classroom. However, effectively teaching English Language Learners in preschool takes more than speaking one or two words in Spanish.

Hispanic ELL students in preschool

(Source: Hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)

Longitudinal studies show the lasting effects of a quality preschool curriculum on at-risk students, including increasing the likelihood of graduating high school and attending college. While these studies primarily focus on at-risk children in general, many of today’s at-risk students are English Language Leaners. In fact, 21 percent of all children under the age of 5 are Hispanic (although not all are English Language Learners). A recent policy brief published by NIERR (National Institute for Early Education Research) asks whether or not today’s preschool curriculum is preparing Hispanic children in particular to succeed in school. The report outlines recommendations for decision makers to consider when evaluating or establishing a preschool curriculum or program.

4 recommendations for states to consider for Hispanic English Language Learners in public preschool, according to NIEER

  1. Evaluate preschool education policies with Hispanic children in mind. If ELL status is not a factor considered for targeted program eligibility, a consideration should be given to making it so.
  2. As future programs expand, conducting comparative analyses of targeted programs and PreK for all children may prove useful. Universal programs can cost less per child and resolve problems of eligibility.
  3. States should ensure programs have some support for ELL children in their home language. Research shows that preschool curriculum that also supports the language used at home improves cognitive, linguistic, and social outcomes.
  4. It should be a high priority at the state and federal levels to develop better reporting systems to ensure quality data for stronger research on Hispanic children and early education policies.

You can read the full policy brief here: “Is Public Pre-K Preparing Hispanic Children to Succeed in School?

Use music to teach ELLs early literacy and language development

Every child speaks music! ABC Music & Me uses music to teach early literacy and language development and school readiness skills to young children and engage families in their children’s education. The research-based curriculum can be especially beneficial for English Language Learners. In every unit of ABC Music & Me, children hear stories read aloud and sing songs that include new vocabulary words. Words essential to the unit’s theme are included on picture cards along with recommended instruction for ELL students, expanding the possibilities for vocabulary acquisition. Plus, ABC Music & Me aligns with Title III requirements and our “English Language Learners Strategies Guide” provides unit-by-unit, lesson-by-lesson tips.

According to the NIEER report, Hispanic families continue to encounter barriers to sending their children to preschool, including lack of parental education and language barriers. However, we build parental involvement right into our preschool curriculum, because we know that a parent is a child’s first and best teacher. ABC Music & Me includes materials in English and Spanish, including robust literacy activities, to increase parent involvement and support the common language spoken in the home.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me with English Language Learners or other young children as a preschool or toddler curriculum, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.