4 ways to use early childhood music to help children sleep

sleeping toddler finalSleep. It’s such a simple word. And, yet, for parents with young children—or early childhood educators with a classroom full of wiggling and giggling little ones at naptime—sleep can seem like a mirage that teases and tricks and lingers just out of reach. Or, it can leave us driving around willing all the lights to stay green so our little ones will stay asleep just a little bit longer.
While this lack of sleep bonds us together, it also isolates us in our individual struggles to lull our little ones to sleep. No need to call a Sleep Nanny just yet. Try these musical solutions to help solve childhood sleep woes.

4 musical ideas that puts children to sleep (literally)

  1. Listen to lullabies. Lullabies can lower the heart rate of children and help grown-ups to relax as well.
  2. Use soft, quiet music the same time each evening to signal that sleep time is near. Routines and rituals help young children make sense of their world and predict what comes next. Listening to the same music at the end of the day tells children that it is time to get ready for bed. This can mean bath time, cozy pajamas, a story, and then a final snuggle before lights out.
  3. Be consistent with musical selections. Familiar tunes work best to signal to a child that bedtime is near.
  4. Teach children their own soothing lullaby. Children learn through repetition. So, by singing a favorite song night after night, children will not only learn the song by heart, but they will learn a musical self-soothing technique. Bonus: That same tune can help calm children under stressful situations, like a skinned knee or a visit to the doctor’s office.

We know there is power in early childhood music. Whether used as part of a toddler curriculum to teach early literacy and language skills, played in the background at toddler play groups, or even used in the middle of the night to lull an infant to sleep, music puts a soundtrack to childhood. And, music and learning go hand in hand!

Looking for musical solutions to other parenting challenges? Visit a Kindermusik class to connect with other families where you can discover more about the benefits of early childhood music. Find a local Kindermusik educator today!

10 Reasons Why Toddlers Thrive in Early Childhood Music Classes

Since Kindermusik International is the world’s leader in early music and movement learning, we could probably probably give you 10,000 reasons why toddlers thrive in our early childhood music classes with Kindermusik educators all around the world using our toddler music curriculum.
But we’ll keep this short, sweet, and to the point and just share 10 of our favorite reasons why early childhood music, and specifically Kindermusik classes, are so important for young children.
Music - happy familiesReason #1: Parents are engaged and involved with their toddler for the entire class and toddlers blossom with this kind of focused attention and quality time together.
Reason #2: Toddlers benefit from the social facet of the class, watching their peers, making friends, and practicing sharing.
Reason #3: Creativity and imagination are ignited through Kindermusik’s rich, multi-sensory learning environment.  Music and learning go hand-in-hand.  Watch this video for more!
Reason #4: In a Kindermusik program, most children will have the opportunity to have the same caring, nurturing Kindermusik teacher for several years, providing a security and familiarity that enriches the learning process.
Reason #5: The Kindermusik curricula deliberately expose toddlers to a wide variety of musical genres and styles, expanding their musical taste and appreciation.
Reason #6: Toddlers absolutely thrive on happy rituals and predictable routines, both of which are an intrinsic part of each and every Kindermusik class.
Reason #7: At a time when vocabularies are exploding, Kindermusik classes inspire toddlers to practice silly sounds and learn new words through songs, chants, and vocal play.
Reason #8: Toddlers love to go, and Kindermusik classes give children a safe place to actively explore all of the different ways little bodies can move.
Reason #9: Kindermusik classrooms are a place of discovery and delight, and nothing is more satisfying to a toddler than to be able to do and explore all by himself – with mom or dad close by, of course!
Reason #10: The Kindermusik curricula are carefully designed to give these active learners exactly what they need when they need it, inspiring a love of music and an appetite for learning that will last a lifetime.
cute girl making a funny faceCome see for yourself how your toddler will thrive in a Kindermusik class!  Try a free Preview Class today.  We promise… Kindermusik is one of the best things you can do for your child.  We’d love to show you why.

Shared by Theresa Case who owns an award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC.

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.

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

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.

Daycare teachers promote early literacy skills with music

If Shakespeare had developed daycare or preschool curriculum instead of sonnets and plays, he may have rewritten one of his most famous lines: “If music be the food of love literacy, play on.” Research continues to prove this sentiment, including a new University of Buffalo study published earlier this month.

Training equips preschool teachers to use music

Before conducting this study, professors from the University of Buffalo knew what the research said about music’s ability to greatly impact a child’s early literacy and language abilities. With their study, however, they specifically wanted to see if early childhood teachers, with little to no music background, could be trained to use music in developmentally appropriate ways to boost early literacy development.

Led by Maria Runfola, PhD, and Elisabeth Etopio, PhD, the team recruited 165 preschoolers to participate in music activities led by 11 daycare teachers. As part of the daycare curriculum, the preschool educators leading the music classes received training in musicianship skills and specific strategies for leading preschoolers’ music development. Prior to this early literacy study, these preschool teachers did not have any music training. The researchers found that participating preschoolers experienced a boost in oral vocabulary and understanding of grammar compared to students not enrolled in the preschool curriculum. Plus, children with lower initial literacy skills saw the biggest positive impact.

“First, we found that the musicianship of the early childhood teachers improved as did their ability to guide music activities in ways that enhanced student music development,” explained Runfola in a press release, Study Finds Link Between Music and Preschoolers Reading Readiness.

Since the preschool teachers did not come from a musical background, it was not surprising that participating children did not experience a significant boost to musicality, such as rhythm-pattern achievement. However, the researchers concluded that early childhood teachers without a music background could be trained to teach a daycare curriculum that uses music as a vehicle for early literacy and language development.

“Administrators need to better understand the importance of the arts to children’s development,” Runfola concluded in the press release. “We hope this research will help music educators and childhood educators support their requests for music time for the youngest of our students.  Children need daily appropriate music activity to stimulate their neural activity to develop tonal and rhythm audiation that in turn appears to help their emergent literacy skill.”

If music be the food of literacy, then play on indeed!

Preschool curriculum helps daycare teachers use music to boost early literacy

Created by Kindermusik International, ABC Music & Me is a daycare curriculum that uses music and movement activities to boost early literacy and language skills while also cultivating turn-taking and sharing, improving coordination, enhancing creativity, and more.

Through a robust classroom kit that includes Digital Teacher Guides, ABC Music & Me provides step-by-step planned out lessons so even educators with no musical experience can begin teaching this daycare curriculum immediately.

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

Preschoolers count their way to math success

Preparing children to be successful in math during elementary school begins long before that first day of Kindergarten. New research shows that both reciting and counting (assigning numerical values to objects) should be emphasized in a preschool or daycare curriculum to lay the groundwork for understanding more challenging math concepts in elementary school. In fact, the study implies that being able to count objects up to 20 in chronological order predicts success in first grade.

Preschoolers’ counting abilities and first-grade math abilities

Louis Manfra, PhD reviewed the reciting and counting abilities of 3,000 at-risk students in preschool and then later in first grade. Manfra found that the students with the highest math scores in first grade could also recite and count to 20 while in preschool. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of the at-risk students could count and recite to 20.

“Counting gives children stronger foundations when they start school,” Manfra said in a press release. “The skills children have when they start kindergarten affect their trajectories through early elementary school; therefore, it’s important that children start with as many skills as possible.” Continue reading “Preschoolers count their way to math success”

Cultural factors that may impact the self-regulation skills of ELL preschoolers

Source: She Knows Activity Center

Watch a classroom of preschoolers writing letters from that day’s preschool lesson plan and you will see children wiggling in their seats, looking longingly over at the art table, poking classmates with fingers, or talking to each other. Preschoolers are still learning how to self-regulate or how to control and direct their own actions, thoughts, and feelings. More and more research shows the importance of teaching self-regulation as part of a preschool or toddler curriculum. Studies indicate that self-regulation may even be a predictor of both early academic success and later adult health and wealth.

Latino English Language Learners and Self-Control

While the body of research on the importance of self-regulation continues to grow, little research exists that targets specific cultural factors that may affect self-control skills in ELL preschoolers. A professor from Loyola University Chicago recently published an article in the Child Development Perspectives journal that took initial steps towards identifying two aspects found specifically in the immigrant Latino culture—familism and acculturation—that may affect the self-regulation of preschooler English Language Learners. Familisim refers to a cultural aspect that puts the needs of the family as a whole above the needs of the individuals in the family. Acculturation is the process of change a person or family encounters when one culture begins to merge with another culture, such as changes in food, clothing, and language. The author stresses the need for additional research that will take into consideration these unique aspects of immigrant Latino English Language Learners.

Preschool curriculum develops self-control using music

Studies show that music can help develop self-control in young children, including English Language Learners. In fact, researchers recommend using music to engage the entire family in learning, including in cultures that place a high regard on the family.

Based on over 30 years of research detailing the ways music instruction boosts self-regulation, listening, early literacy and language, and more, Kindermusik created ABC Music & Me, a preschool and toddler curriculum. ABC Music & Me uses music to teach early literacy and language development to young children and engage families in their children’s education. The research-based 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, 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 preschool or toddler curriculum with English Language Learners, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.