Learning with Music!
Introducing music for kids is such a pleasure for all concerned. Children naturally love and respond to music. If you don’t believe it, just watch following YouTube video showing a child responding to classical music and being recorded by their parents. Cute and funny, but also shows how a child in its earliest development responds to music, even when asleep really!
P.S. Children aren’t the only creatures that love to dance: See Snowball, the Dancing Cockatoo here!
If you have the opportunity to be with young children as a parent, aunt or uncle, or grandparent, then you can make a wonderful difference in their overall development by introducing music as an early age. In fact, children learn through playing while enjoying singing, clapping to sounds, and rhyme and repetition.
Statistically, children who were read aloud to in early childhood are more likely to attend college. The key word is “aloud.” Children hear the written word, not just see the letters, so they can practically hear the words as they read. They can detect the lyrical quality of the written word and hear the author’s cadence and literary integrity. Children love to have their favorite book read and reread to them over and over again. Why? They are taking in, almost like osmosis, every element of the book. I relate to an adult seeing a rather complicated movie for a second or perhaps third time, each time getting more (and perhaps different) nuances, information, and insights. (I personally decided to go see “The Sixth Sense” movie for a second time – almost immediately after seeing it the first time. Why? I was so caught off guard by the ending that I just didn’t believe their wasn’t a hint or mistake in the scenes of the movie. There were no mistakes by the way!)
A child will notice more and more about his favorite book as well. Did you know that if a child holds the book he or she is giving an oral report on, it helps him or her remember and deliver the report? There are many levels of learning and many intelligences which are interactive by nature.
Sometimes there’s that “teachable” moment that is recognized and not ignored; however, those moments occur all the time, often without anyone noticing, even the learner. One may not realize that critical, essential teaching/learning is occurring just by sharing how we care for a cherished doll or carefully open a treasured book. Children are learning mostly when we are not noticing and often when we hope they aren’t learning perhaps. Learning happens – we just want it to be stimulated and directed in the best ways.
So, what makes a child grow up to love to read? Many factors go into that formula. Some children learn to read without learning to love reading. How might that happen? A candidate for a doctorate in Children’s Literature at University of Texas researched this subject for her dissertation and noted that some kids can decode (decipher) the letters that form the words. In other words, they could read well enough, but didn’t enjoy reading. Why? One of her subjects put it this way: “It’s like watching TV without sound.”
Introducing music and activities using all the senses (smell, taste, touch, hearing, feeling) helps promote a young child’s growth and development both physically as well as mentally. Look at what Head Starts do with their young children: they use all the senses to teach. “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is a staple; children love to sing and run those spiders “up the spout.” Learning, singing, dancing to music, sleeping to music. Music is used often each day in most Head Start programs. It’s a real experience to watch a group of Head Start students dance to music with such abandon, sense of fun, and joy. Learning can be so much fun, but we have to make the environment and enable it.
Studies show that students who have early musical training, such as piano lessons, for 4-5 years perform better on tasks that test both skills that relate to and do not relate to playing a musical instrument. In fact, “children who play a musical instrument perform better on tests of motor, auditory, vocabulary, and non-verbal reasoning skills,” according to a study by Harvard researchers.
So, if you are one of the first teachers (Mom, Dad, Grandparent, Aunt/Uncle) of your children, you have a wonderful opportunity as well as responsibility to help your beloved child soak up the basics of language, music, rhythm, and learning long before they reach the classroom.
Be sure to involve all the senses… Take them into the kitchen as you fill the room with food smells. Stimulation fires up the brain for learning. Play faces with them and watch as they mimic them back to you. Make sure their play area is safe, open, and colorful (and mirrored because children love to look into mirrors). A young child will smile, coo, make eye contact, mirror facial expressions and babble – all of which shows alertness and learning. (Note: It’s best to let the young child be alert and ready to play, rather than sleepy, so he/she is more receptive. Read more here!)
Allow them time to explore their world in their own time without hurry or worry. Like little sponges, their brains take in whatever they experience, and you are what they experience. Communicate what you love to them as well. If you love music, so will they; if you love reading, so will they; and if you love them enough to create that secure feeling that all’s well with the world while they are growing and developing, then they will grow up feeling their world is a good place. Happy, fun-loving, children make the best learner and the best problem-solvers.
If you ask questions, play hide and seek, set up solvable puzzles for them to figure out, have them learn how to play piano, etc., then you are already building enriching experiences of learning. Learning is something we all do inevitably; what we learn isn’t. Here’s a great quote to learn to live up to: “Nothing unworthy of perpetuity should be transmitted to children.”
We can all enable the children that come within our sphere of influential love to learn new things by creating an environment conducive and safe for those types of learning and growing experiences. And, who knows, maybe we’ll start growing along with them as well…
Article by Deb Adams, M. Ed.