We’re continuing our celebration of NAEYC’s Week of the Young Child with Music Monday.
Children are born musicians. Babies turn their heads when they hear a parent or caregiver sing, toddlers sway to the music, and preschoolers dance and twirl around the kitchen (generally when one of their parents is trying to prepare a meal). Elementary-aged children may sit with a tablet to listen to music on their headphones, while older kids may walk around with earbuds permanently inserted in their ears. And what child has not picked up a stick or a kitchen utensil and used it to tap out a beat?
As it turns out, this interest in music is good for kids. Calm music can help reduce anxiety and stress while aiding in self-regulation. Children who sing rhyming songs learn about sounds, and children who try to figure out how to tap (or hit) the drum to make the loudest sound are using complex thinking skills.
We know that young children thrive on predictability. That’s why they ask us to read the same book or sing the same song over and over again - long after we’ve gotten tired of the book or the song. Barney the purple dinosaur was popular when my children were small and even now, I cringe a bit when I hear the all-too-familiar refrain of “I love you, you love me.” If you’re feeling the same way about Baby Shark “...doo doo doo doo doo doo,” here are some ideas on how to promote music with your children.
Music is often used in the classroom to signal the start and stop of different activities - this helps children learn about and anticipate routines and expectations. The same can be true at home.Playing a song at key transitions in the day - starting with a song when it’s time to wake up - can help set that schedule. Younger children might enjoy hearing some of the same songs that they hear at school (greeting, hand washing, cleaning up, toothbrushing). If you don’t know the songs, ask the school if they can send them to you or share a playlist on Youtube or Spotify.
Here are some musically based activities that you can do with your children:
You don’t need any special supplies to make your own instruments: an oatmeal box makes a great drum, a plastic container filled with dried beans can stand in for a maraca, and a paper towel tube can serve as a wind instrument. Your kids will have fun and may even give you an impromptu concert!
Take out your pots and pans (or plastic ware if you want to dull the noise) and let your kids experiment with different ways to make music. Ask questions like, “What kind of noise will this paintbrush make on this pan lid?” “ Do you think the sound will be louder or softer than the sound when we bang these two metal pan lids together?” “Why do you think that?” Older children may even be able to predict which household materials can best imitate the sounds and timbres of real-world instruments.
Support your child’s ability to recognize patterns by making up simple musical patterns and having your child repeat them. Once they get the hang of it, let them take a turn driving the rhythm.
Internet resources mean that you and your child have access to music from decades past and countries far and wide. Explore new music together and share new vocabularies such as tempo, beat, rhythm, or genre. Make up dances to match the music!
Do a musical scavenger hunt! Ask the child to find everything that can play music (phones, radios, tablets, computers, instruments, musical books).
The most important thing you can do to foster your child’s interest in music is to love it yourself. Music can not only be a great way to engage with your children, it can be therapeutic in these tough times. We hope this gives you some new ideas of ways to bring music into your children’s daily lives.
New York Philharmonic
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When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.