4 Benefits of Music for Toddlers

Kindermusik_SoundtrackForAnySeason_web-250x250-250x250Toddlers are well, busy.  They love to go, move, do, and say “No!”  They also desperately crave predictability and routine.  Parents are challenged by near polar opposite behavior – one minute all is well; the next, there’s a meltdown.  A toddler will cling to mom as if he’ll never let go, and the next moment adamantly assert the independence of a teenager.  At the same time, toddlers are becoming very social, interested in other people and moving from parallel play where they play alongside other children to cooperative play where they start to play with the other children.
If all of these changes weren’t enough, brain development is literally exploding.  In fact, the only two times in a child’s life when there is such significant brain activity is when he/she is a toddler and a teenager.  Vocabulary and communication skills are blossoming, as the toddler goes from about 10 words in his vocabulary to upwards of 300 or so words by age 3.  Motor skills are also developing at a rapid rate – suddenly the child who was barely toddling along is now running, jumping, and galloping everywhere.  Whew!  No wonder moms and dads of toddlers are extra busy – and exhausted! – during this particular season of childhood.
With so much happening inside your toddler’s busy little mind and body, Kindermusik is one activity that beautifully supports and enhances this crucial season in your child’s life.
Though we could probably name a hundred, here are four benefits of music for toddlers:
BenefitsOfKindermusik_MusicClassesForToddlers_Infographic1.  A music class like Kindermusik provides an environment that is both stimulating and nurturing for toddlers.
With so much growth and development happening, toddlers need both the challenge of new things to learn and do as well as the comfort of loving adults and activities that nurture the soul.
2.  Early experiences with music and movement give your toddler an early learning advantage.
The connection between music and academic achievement is undeniable, as highlighted in this recent article.  There’s no better time to be enrolled in music classes than the toddler years when brain growth and development is at its peak, especially with the powerful combination that music and movement gives.
3.  Music, specifically singing songs and speaking rhymes and chants, improves language development.
At a time when language development is most crucial, there’s nothing more beneficial to speech, syntax, and pre-literacy than singing simple songs and reciting chants.  It will start with a few words here and there and then eventually grow into a small repertoire of favorite songs and rhymes that your toddler can sing or say all the way through.
4.  Early childhood music classes put a song in a child’s heart to stay.
Toddlers love music, and giving them an early start with music plants the seeds that bloom into a lifelong love for and appreciation of music.  Music is one gift you can give your toddler that will have a lifetime of meaning, memories, impact, and joy.  No other activity has the potential to influence your child like music does.

For parents…

dad and child at KindermusikThe entire Kindermusik experience, from class to home (and back again!), provides a vital support network for parents of busy toddlers.  Not only does Kindermusik foster and strengthen the parent-child relationship, but Kindermusik classes are also a social outlet for parents as well, a place to share both the joys and challenges of parenting a toddler.
And since Kindermusik is all about helping make great parenting a little easier and even more musical, parents benefit tremendously from all of the helpful tips, ideas, and resources (including your Kindermusik Home Materials) that will help you navigate and enjoy the toddler years to their fullest.
Best of all, parents enjoy a unique kind of bonding and together time with your toddler that only music can give.  With Kindermusik, you’ll be able to savor and linger in those precious, fleeting moments of toddlerhood with more cuddles, hugs, dances, lullabies, giggles, and sweet memories.

Experience the benefits of Kindermusik for yourself.  Contact a local Kindermusik educator and visit a free class today!

Kids Crafts Inspired by Kindermusik@Home

Cardboard Castle

What do a cardboard castle and a paper plate sun have in common?  They’re both two of the many kids craft ideas conveniently found in Kindermusik@Home.

Crafts for Preschoolers

Cardboard CastleWhat’s great about the cardboard castle featured in Make Believe are the kid-friendly instructions. With just a little help from an adult, they are just perfect for preschoolers who thrive on a little independence and the joy of creative self-expression. The best parts are all the imaginative pretend play once the castle is complete, and the learning that happens best through active play and hands-on interaction.

Crafts for Toddlers

Paper Plate Sun CraftA simple but fun craft idea for toddlers is found in Kindermusik@Home, Up in the Sky.  Hint:  You might want to make two so that you can both sing and dance with your Paper Plate Sun.  (Or turn on the recording of “Mr. Sun.”)  The paper plate sun is one of several “sky crafts” that promote interactive learning while also inspiring together-time ideas.
As a unique benefit of your Kindermusik enrollment, your Home Materials, conveniently available when you log in to Kindermusik@Home, offer you and your child music and then some – engaging, delightful craft ideas being among the highlights.

Together time fueled by creativity and imagination…

…all inspired by the power of Kindermusik – in class and at home all week long.
Shared by Theresa Case, whose Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios is among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide.

Meet a Kindermusik educator: Aimee Carter

Name:
Aimee Carter

Location:
Brandon, Florida

Studio name and link:
Delightful Sounds
www.delightfulsounds.com

Number of years you’ve taught Kindermusik:
7

Describe yourself in five words or less:
Creative, fun, energetic, and silly

Favorite Kindermusik song:
The Morning Song, because I like coming up with crazy animal sounds for the unexpected, animal choices like manatees or hippos.

Favorite Kindermusik activity, and why:
Anything with bilibos. I love all the ways we can play with them!

A proud moment in a Kindermusik classroom:
I love getting to see all the first steps and first words along with the parents. I get pretty excited about seeing the children grow and learn.

Something your Kindermusik children or families have taught you (could be inspirational, humorous, practical, etc.):
The children have really helped me become even more creative. They can really get outside of the box sometimes, and I LOVE that!

Something funny a child has said or done in your classroom:
The preschoolers crack me up. I never know what they will say or do next. Last week, one of the children stopped me in the middle of a song to ask “if I ever had fire come out of my butt?” LOL I never could figure out what it had to do with the train song???

The reason you teach:
I am passionate about music and the development of children. Kindermusik allows me to combine both of these as I work side by side with such wonderful families each week!

Sometimes ACTIONS are louder than WORDS

Have you ever sat in a movie theater, and several people in the row behind you are all talking? I bet you found it difficult to concentrate on the movie.

What does this have to do with your child in a Kindermusik class? Just imagine this scenario: your Kindermusik teacher brings out a basket of rhythm sticks and sings “two for you and two for your grownup”. Most of the grownups in the room start encouraging their child to go get the sticks. They encourage them with their voices and now we hear 10 adults telling their child to go get sticks. At this point, some of the children will start to “tune you out”. I like to call this “selective hearing loss”. (I have teens at home and I am very familiar with this temporary, albeit sometimes annoying ailment.)

Although we highly encourage you to talk to your child throughout the day and label movements, sounds, and objects to help with language acquisition, there are times when we have to allow them to figure out what to do without being told. Allow them to problem solve.

I want to share with you an experiment we did in a few of my classes. I asked the adults not to give directions to their child during this class – just sing when it was appropriate in the lesson. The toughest part was the “no talking”. But they all agreed and were curious to witness their child in this somewhat altered environment. I encouraged them to guide their little one by being a model and using non-verbal cues.

Here is what some of the adults said at the end of class:
* They showed more patience
* They were more “in the moment” with their children
* Their children were more attentive and focused
* Their children felt freer to create, explore, and express themselves

Try a version of this experiment at home. Take time to explore with your child without giving them opinions or directions. Be a model for them through your actions and not your words. It’s not easy, but it may allow you to be “in the moment” with your child in a way you have not been before.

Special thanks to Kindermusik educator Cathy Huser for sharing this insightful post from her blog.  Cathy’s program, Kindermusik of Cleveland, has been a top ten Kindermusik Maestro program for 10 years running.

Ready? Set. Read!

Every parent knows how much children enjoy being read to: the excitement of new books and the comfort of those read over and over. Then there’s also all the great benefits they’re getting.

Reading to a child aids in language development. As a child hears language spoken to him, he internalizes the sounds, later using them in his own speech. Reading can open up new worlds and expand the mind. It can extend vocabulary and the understanding of things beyond everyday experience. Giving your child the opportunity to become familiar and comfortable with books is an important part of fostering a love of reading.

Reading together:

  • -Fosters reading enjoyment.
  • -Provides predictability through repetition.
  • -Introduces new vocabulary.
  • -Expands understanding of story structures.
  • -Promotes critical thinking.
  • -Encourages language play and creative expression.
  • -Provides cognitive stimulation.
  • -Builds early interest in literacy.

“Literacy is listening, learning, and quality of life. It is reading, writing, thinking, scribbling, drawing, and being motivated to find meaning. It is interpreting, inventing, associating, communicating, responding, sharing, and being able to set visions into action.” —The Storybook Journey, by S. McCord, p. 125.

There is a strong relationship between reading and music. Reading to children closely approximates the experience of singing or conversation. It provides another way to communicate through rhythm, reciprocity, tone, and language that is, after all, very much like music. That’s why pre-literacy development and exposure to books is an integral piece of each Kindermusik class.  Books stir the same responses in young children that music does.  Some books are exciting and encourage movement. Some inspire children to be thoughtful.  And some books soothe a child to sleep just like a lullaby.

Reading can help toddlers understand and process emotions and can teach healthy social behaviors. For children whose emotions are powerful but whose expressive language is still limited, books provide avenues for understanding the emotions they experience. Through hearing stories, toddlers and preschoolers can make sense of their own feelings.

Story Time:

  • -Exposes children to new words and new ways to communicate.
  • -Motivates children to think about things in different ways and even see things from another’s perspective.
  • -Provides opportunity for children to interact with each other.
  • -Can present positive social models and examples.
  • -When shared in the lap of a loving grownup can provide calm, relaxation, and promote bonding.

Reading together at home is so important. Kindermusik includes literature as another medium for communication between parents and children. During Story Time in our toddler and preschool classes (and even sometimes in the baby classes), watch as your teacher engages the children. Gather ideas to use to bring books alive for your child at home. Support and nurture literacy development during read-aloud experiences by building on your child’s comments about the text, posing challenging questions, suggesting alternative interpretations, encouraging personal reactions, drawing attention to letters, words, and illustrations, and engaging in discussions about the text.

At Home:

  • -Set aside a specific time to read with your child each day. This ritual will not only be soothing to your child but also to you.
  • -Visit your public library. Ask the children’s librarian what books she recommends for your child’s age, or look at some of the suggestions on our blog or in your Home Activity Guide.
  • -Look at your Kindermusik books with your child while listening to the read-aloud that is often included on the Home CD.
  • -Make reading interactive. Ask your child questions about the story and the pictures.

“The most important thing you can do to make your child a reader is to read aloud stories and poems—the more the better!” Read to Me: Raising Kids Who Love to Read, by Bernice E. Cullinan.

Special thanks to Kindermusik educator Joy Granade for sharing this post from her blog, Kindermusik with Joy. Information about Joy’s Kindermusik program in Kansas City, MO, can be found at her blog.

Let’s jump for joy!

This article was originally written by Kindermusik educator Helen Peterson. Helen’s Kindermusik of the Valley program, located in and around the twin cities, MN, is one of the top programs in the world.

In a relatively recent study, 4 to 6 year old children in music and movement programs were tested to see how they compared to children enrolled in a traditional physical education program. The results were interesting, to say the least. The children getting music and movement instruction showed more growth in motor skills than those in a standard physical education program. Here’s a quote from Early Childhood Research Quarterly (Vol. 19, Issue #4, 2004):

“In a study 50 children were enrolled in a music and movement program, and 42 children were enrolled  in a traditional physical education program. After 8 weeks, the children in the music AND movement group had improved significantly in both jumping and dynamic balance skills when compared to their peers in the traditional program.”

As a Kindermusik educator, I have had many parents ask me how Kindermusik compares to Gymboree or Little Gym, now I can honestly say (as I suspected): movement + music (Kindermusik) really is the best choice.

Meet a Kindermusik educator: Pam Carmagnola

Name:
Pam Carmagnola

Location:
Crozet, VA (outside of Charlottesville, in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains)

Studio name and link:
Kindermusik with Pam
www.kmusikwithpam.kindermusik.net

Number of years you’ve taught Kindermusik:
Eight

Describe yourself in five words or less:
Dedicated, child-centered, professional, enthusiastic

Favorite Kindermusik song:
“Giraffe and Zebra Move-Along,” from Zoo Train

Favorite Kindermusik activity, and why:
My current favorite activity is the circle dance from Zoo Train, to “Drover’s Dream.”  It’s got a great beat and is very adaptable to different movements.  Everyone loves to hear the unique sound of the didgeridoo!

A proud moment in a Kindermusik classroom:
After several years of classes, including Village and Our Time, a sweet preschooler now enrolled in ABC Music & Me is demonstrating his solid understanding of the concepts he has learned in Kindermusik.  Steady beat, pitch, tempo – you name it!  His good beginning truly will never end!

Something your Kindermusik children or families have taught you (could be inspirational, humorous, practical, etc.):
“Shiny stickers are special!”  “Hand sanitizer is cold!”  “An opened/flattened castanet makes a great pretend phone!”  And finally, “Kindermusik is a place where I am accepted and loved for who I am, just the way I am right now!”

Something funny a child has said or done in your classroom:
One of my favorite, most memorable moments occurred during vocal play when we were making doorbell ringing sounds.  “Ding, dong” said Abigail’s mom.  “Pizza’s here!” said two-year old Abigail!

The reason you teach:
I teach Kindermusik for many reasons.  The one closest to my heart is creating those special moments when parent and child really connect in class.  These days, precious time to focus solely on our children is rare.  It is a blessing to provide these opportunities for families in my community.

Your child rocks!

When your baby cries, you instinctively scoop him up and rock him.  His need to move and his ability to be soothed by movement are vital in the first 15 months of life when the vestibular system – the area that gives him a sense of balance and distance – is developing.

Aside from the physical benefits of movement, your child also recieves an emotional benefit from rocking and bonding with you.  This quiet, rocking ritual can provide him with a sense of security, allowing him to grow into an assured, confident learner with a healthy self-esteem.

Rocking is still important as your young child grows and will often become a favorite – and memorable – activity for both child and parent.  Even older children benefit from the stimulation of the vestibular system.  Urges to run and tear around the house can be mellowed by taking a few minutes for quiet or even more active rocking.

Kindermusik Tips for your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler

  • > Rocking your baby: Place a blanket on the floor and lay your baby in the middle.  With an adult caregiver on either side, pick up a corner of the blanket and gently “hammock” your child.  If your baby doesn’t like rocking this way, simple lay him on his back and gently rock him side-to-side to the rhythm of the music.
  • > Rocking with your toddler:  Toddlers can rock a favorite stuffed animal, or while you sit on the floor, your toddler can hug you from behind as you rock back and forth to the music.
  • > Rocking with your preschooler: Preschoolers will love to curl their bodies into little balls, and rock and roll around the room. Want to let your inhibitions go? Do this with them! Fits of giggles are sure to follow.

The family that laughs together…

Overtone Singing Crazy Sounds

Giving your child a simple smile can improve his or her self image and brain development. When your child sees you smile, it not only makes her feel good, it strengthens connections in the brain as well.

Studies have shown that smiling and laughter can strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress levels. And a healthy sense of humor can help a child handle problems as they grow into adults, as well as enhance the social skills they need to make friends.

Along with smiling, laughter is a sound that’s naturally interesting to your toddler. As he’s getting ready to learn to talk, he needs help learning how to listen so he can distinguish one sound from another to form his first words. Play active listening games like “One ha-ha-happy family”, described below. As you listen, exaggerate your body posture, lean into the sound, brighten your eyes, and model the body expressions of a good, active listener for a happy, talking toddler.

One ha-ha-happy family
Laugh out loud. Ask your toddler to make the sound back. Laugh lots of different ways to your toddler. Wait for her to copy you, and vice versa. Record the sound of your toddler laughing. (Family idea: Make a “Laughter Scrapbook”! Record your family laughing together and all the different ways you can laugh. Keep adding to the recording as the years go and by and hear how the sound of your laughter changes.)

As well as listening games, why not combine physical games with music? This will give your toddler something to laugh about, learn more words about, and develop better coordination.

When you’re a toddler, running is usually accompanied by fits of laughter. This new found physical control makes games like “Ring around the Rosy” a huge hit. Rosy can fall down or do the silly walk – have fun by exploring lots of ways Rosy can “all fall down” by doing other movements that your toddler finds funny, like playing chase or running. Explore sound with your baby before bedtime. Put on your favorite lullaby (or sing it yourself) and play along gently with a musical instrument.

Say “Cheese!”
Smiling and laughing play a large part in the bonding and attachment process that help your child feel secure and safe. Children primarily use their parents’ facial expressions as a guide for behavior. The emotional experiences a child has (especially during the first years) help shape emotional responses throughout life. It’s worth remembering that a simple smile is one building block for your relationship with your child. Your face is where your child looks for reassurement, comfort, and  attention. So don’t be afraid to show your child those pearly whites!

 

Meet a Kindermusik educator: Amy James

Name:
Amy James

Location:
Bend OR

Studio name and link:
DevelopMusic
www.developmusic.com

Number of years you’ve taught Kindermusik:
5 years

Describe yourself in five words or less:
Loves music, loves to dance

Favorite Kindermusik song:
Our Time Hello since it’s the one my daughter sings when she “plays” Kindermusik with her dolls

Favorite Kindermusik activity, and why:
I love any of the circle songs because I love the sense of community we create as we all come together in a circle and dance.

A proud moment in a Kindermusik classroom:
When there is a connection made between a parent and child, parent and parent, or teacher and child

Something your Kindermusik children or families have taught you (could be inspirational, humorous, practical, etc.):
Be uninhibited, just go for it when singing, dancing or moving.  Throw off the outside pressures of parenthood and just have fun with your little one because they do not stay little for very long!

Something funny a child has said or done in your classroom:
There was a little boy who never crawled, he would just scoot on his bottom around the room and he was fast!

The reason you teach:
I teach because what we teach can make a difference.  It makes a difference for the families in the present by allowing them a special time together.  It also makes a difference in the future because of the foundation being laid for future learning.  I’ve seen the tremendous difference it has made, especially for those kids with other special needs.  Kindermusik is a place where they can have fun and be successful.