End of Summertime/September Snacks
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End of Summertime/September Snacks
Even though September brings the end of Summertime, that doesn't mean that Summertime fun has to end! Meal time, especially snack time for kids, is a very important time for nutrition, fine motor development, vocabulary building, and family together time/bonding! Since children are growing so fast, you might feel like you spend your entire day eating together! Here's a Try It Tip: You can use this time to talk and sing with your child, nurturing their cognitive, social and emotional development at the same time that you're actually giving them the nutrition their little bodies need! You can keep the smiles of Summertime going and make snack time fun this September with these how-to videos for colorful, nutritious snacks that kids love! If your child is old enough, they can even help prepare them with you!
Sing N Move's Year in Review
It's Summer break and Sing N Move is celebrating the 2015-2016 season with a year in review! Each unit, class, and special event provided so many opportunities for learning, growth, and laughter! We would like to thank each one of our families for spending these special years and moments with your little ones...with us! We are so lucky to be part of your children's lives and educations. We look forward to even more memories when regular class offerings start up again for the 2016-2017 season the week of September 12, 2016. Keep singin' those songs and movin' those bodies...we'll see you in September! Enjoy a compilation slideshow of some special moments from the year, as well as a 2nd generation of Kindermusik Kids collage!
Sing N Move 2015-2016 Year in Review Slideshow
A compilation slideshow that celebrates some of the special memories we've shared during Kindermusik classes with all of our students & families during the 2015-2016 season!
2nd Generation of Kindermusik Kids
This year welcomed a lot of new faces and a lot of our students became big brothers and sisters lending to another generation of Kindermusik kids singing and moving with us!
Quiet Relaxation Time & Strategies
One of the best tools every parent can utilize when navigating everyday life with little ones is music! Whether it’s singing songs to prepare children that it’s time to leave or dancing to music to burn off some extra energy, music can be invaluable in both teaching young children new concepts, as well as making those special moments that bond parent and child forever! One instance when music comes in particular hand is when trying to instill the importance of calmness and relaxation in the daily routine.
Society today keeps quite the pace not only for adults, but for children as well. Adjusting to the fast pace of life can be tough for kids, especially when they’re growing cognitively, physically, and especially emotionally, so quickly and in such a short span of time! Setting time aside for quiet relaxation is extremely important in Kindermusik classes, but even more important at home. From babies to older children, quiet relaxation time is vital in learning how to quiet one’s mind, calm one’s body, and truly relax…a lifelong skill that will carry them through their adolescent, teen, young adult and even adult years.
There are many different ways to give children cues that it is time to rest and relax. Playing soothing music, dimming the lights, humming lullabies, giving a light massage, or even merely rocking together are all techniques that can signal to children that it’s time to slow down and relax their minds and bodies. Verbal and physical/visual cues can be paired together to reinforce the concept even more. You know your child best and probably have a good sense of their personality, so always adjust your expectations and techniques to meet his/her personality. For a Take Home Tip, here are some “always available” strategies for babies and older children.
In addition to taking deep breaths, getting exercise, visualizations (such as visualizing their favorite color), laughing, stretching, listening to music, and cuddling, one particular strategy that can be effective is called progressive muscle relaxation – meaning to tense and then relax different muscles in the body. These techniques can help children identify what it feels like to relax in an intentional manner, as well as how good it can feel too! Almost like a form of muscle memory, they can then apply that same concept to other muscles or their entire body when the situation calls for it:
1. For the face - Ask your child to “smell something stinky,” scrunching their nose up. Then have them smile and relax their face. Repeat several times.
2. For the hands and arms - Ask your child to imagine squeezing a ball in one hand and then dropping the ball on the floor, allowing their arm to fully extend and go limp. Do several times alternating between both arms.
3. For the legs and feet – While standing, ask your child to “dig their toes into the sand at the beach” and then release them back up trying to identify if they felt the muscles up through their legs. Repeat a few times.For a video of what this can look like when on the go, click the link below.
As the end of the “school year” approaches, often times school-readiness is a big focus point for a lot of parents, thinking ahead to the next year/transition for their child, whether that be entering a new grade or even entering school for the first time in the Fall! There are many different skills that most children need in order to feel “school-ready”, for example skills such as fine motor skills like being able to hold a crayon, as well as more specific social-emotional types that can be particularly key for lots of different school successes, such as self-regulation skills or more simply learning how to stop and go. Click on the picture or button below to watch a video that outlines the basics of school-readiness.
There are many reasons why music classes can be one of the most vital tools in preparing children to be school ready including practice with early literacy and math skills, as well as self-regulation and listening/community building which will be highlighted in more detail below. All of those different areas combine to nurture the development of the whole child and why environments like Kindermusik class that focus on “the process not the performance” help to build the self-confidence necessary for such a huge transition like the transition to school for your little one.
Self-regulation, also known as inhibitory control, is a skill that takes lots of practice! Simply learning to stop one’s body and then go again is harder than it sounds! Try playing stop and go games at home with your child. For example, a simple freeze dance game that involves moving when the music is playing and being still when the music stops can be a powerful tool in teaching children that they have control over their own bodies. It’s this mixture of self-awareness and patience that helps create self-control which will be imperative for achieving success in school.
Listening/Social skills help prepare children to be school ready by showing them what types of expectations there will be of them in a school environment. Being part of a community is something that children should have practice with and thus why music class is one of the safest places for children to experience being part of a community from an early age. Learning how to be part of a community, and more simply how to be a friend, is a process that requires patience, taking turns, listening to others, and feeling empathy. Even the simplest routines during music class have these goals in mind, for instance when instruments are passed out the children are put in the position to wait patiently and share with not only the other children in their class but their grown-ups as well. Also, the simple routine of singing hello songs and listening to/greeting those in the “community” helps children to develop social awareness of other people and understand that they too have their own thoughts, ideas, and feelings; what is at the core of feeling empathy and expressing it. All of these social skills like listening and empathy require the use of working memory, so by giving children the time and place to practice using it they will be able to succeed in school situations that require the use of their working memory such as remembering people’s names and understanding what is helpful to the teacher.
Transitioning to school is one of the biggest transitions in your little one’s life. Parenting can, at times, feel like a constant state of evolution and change, always prepping for the next phase and forgetting to enjoy the here and now! That’s why music classes are two-pronged and can be beneficial not only for children, in providing them the opportunity to practice the social-emotional skills that will be required of them in school, but also for parents, because the classes afford them the chance to take a step back from the hectic pace of the day, week, month or even year and really tune in to how their child is growing, learning first-hand about their child’s preferences when it comes to personal choices, creativity, and expression. Here’s a special “Try It Tip” this month: Making children feel seen, heard and supported is one of the most important jobs a parent has and can be one of the biggest factors in whether or not a child will be and feel “school-ready.” Reassure your child that even when they experience setbacks that bouncing back is the most important aspect. There are many different types of calming techniques that can support your child during setbacks. Try modeling physical, self-calming techniques with your child the next time you need to reassure them during a setback, for example “breathe-in calmness” by teaching your child to take a big deep breath in and then pretend to blow out the birthday candles or blow a bubble across the yard.
Benefits of Focused Listening
Now that Winter is finally over and Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming and birds are chirping! Tweet tweet! What’s that you hear?! Lots of new sounds start buzzing around your little one’s ears as the days start getting longer and creatures start hopping and flying around! Your little one may be hopping and jumping right along with all the Spring creatures waking up after Winter and with that comes lots of opportunities for sensory learning and focused listening.
There are many benefits of exposing young children to focused listening activities at an early age and it is imperative that caregivers give children the opportunity to practice listening intentionally, choosing what or what not to listen to specifically. Not only is listening important for learning, but notably for safety purposes and building solid, reciprocal relationships with others as well. Listening is one of the most common skills necessary for thriving in school situations, for example circle time. Listening is key for understanding our busy world and being aware of where things are in relation to oneself, for example cars. Listening is also critical in nurturing relationships with others and exhibiting compassion and empathy, for example in conversations with a friend. In almost every Kindermusik class, we incorporate an activity that focuses on the act of listening. Listening is very different from merely hearing. The ears and brain naturally receive sounds from their environment. That is considered hearing. Listening, however, is an intentional mental process that requires attention and focus as the brain sorts and interprets sounds. Listening activities that focus on one sound at a time help children practice the skills of attention and engaged listening.
Incorporating focused listening into your daily life is super easy and super fun at the same time, especially outdoors! Here’s a “Try It Tip” for home! Try going for a nature walk with your child around your neighborhood or at a local park. As you encounter the sounds in your neighborhood or park, highlight sounds you hear, for example a bird chirping, a basketball bouncing, a plane flying overhead, a dog barking, or even a train chugging along nearby! There are so many sounds that you can focus in on and lead your child to intentionally listen to and for! Explain that listening is how we learn about the world around us and try some of the following ways to extend the learning during your nature walk: talk about how sounds can vary in volume or length and imitate the sounds you hear by trying some vocal play games like echoing one another back and forth! You can even bring the conversation inside and try a Spring Creatures Egg Carton Craft featured in the video below, talking about all the creatures you heard while you create!
Listening activities can happen during so many facets of life, so remember you can try focused listening with your child in the car, at the grocery store, during diaper changes, before bedtime, the list could go on forever! Enjoy exploring the world with your child and seeing the sparkle and wonder in their eyes as their world grows and they get the chance to see what makes life so interesting and exciting at times!
Benefits of Physical Activity
Movement and learning go hand in hand! Physical activity can improve all areas of development in children including cognitive, social emotional, logic, and literacy/language. If you’ve ever stopped and said to yourself, “My child is always moving,” that’s because children learn primarily through movement! Through movement children begin to develop spatial awareness and the concept of proximity which translates into developing safety skills when navigating the world around them, for example crossing the street. Through movement children begin to develop creative expression, observing the movements of others, making choices and developing their own personal preferences which can build self-confidence and self-esteem. Did you know that children learn movement from others exactly like they learn speech, through imitation and repetition? Each person has their own distinct way of moving called a movement signature. When a child imitates another's movements, her movement vocabulary increases and her personal movement signature begins to form. Also, by vocalizing while your child moves, for example maybe when you’re outside blowing bubbles and your child jumps to reach them or chases after them as they blow away, you can label their movements with words like up and down or fast and slow in order to help create new connections in their brain around these concepts.
By being physically active, children are activating new skills that will assist them throughout their lives. Skills necessary for school, for example memorization, are truly enhanced by encouraging physical activity. For example, movement combined with a concept helps one to remember that concept better because the area of the brain that is responsible for cognitive ability is actually activated through movement. During Kindermusik when we pair body movements with poetry, our goal is to help imprint the words and the meaning of the words in your child’s brain. As your child grows, both you and they can apply those learning strategies to concepts introduced in formal schooling and activities.
As simple as it sounds, being physically active is good for your child’s overall health! Incorporating regular physical active at an early age not only helps children develop healthy lifestyle habits as they grow, but exercise builds muscle strength, increases cardiovascular health, and can positively affect mood, self-esteem, and energy level as well. All areas of growth need practice and that is why we support the combination of singing and moving during class and at home. To get better at something you have to practice, so even things that we take for granted as adults, such as balancing, walking, and using tools like scissors, need to be practiced by children so that they build fine and gross motor skills as well as strong balance and coordination. Here’s a “Try It Tip” for home: Core strength can be built through skipping, hand-eye coordination can be practiced through tossing items in the air and catching them, and spatial awareness can be explored by activating the vestibular system when swaying along to music!
There is so much evidence to support the benefits of physical activity on a child’s growth and development. To learn more, check out this video that summarizes a lot of what was discussed in this month’s blog!
For children, social development includes many areas of skills and abilities including such things as sharing, expressing emotions appropriately, solving problems/conflicts, waiting calmly and quietly, understanding and following rules, having fun in the company of others, recognizing when someone may need help, as well as an internal desire for success. Parents are the first true role model that children have when learning how to socially engage with other people and children progressively build up their social skills through interactions with their parents, in addition to other family, friends, and teachers as well. Children that are given the opportunity to interact, play, sing and move with their peers are able to build lasting relationships, develop inner confidence and self-awareness, and understand that learning can happen in a variety of ways depending on the situation and group you are in. Most importantly they are able to practice self-regulation and in turn, better able to focus and control their impulses. For example, waiting in a line without experiencing frustration.
By making social interactions fun, age appropriate, group oriented and part of recognizable routines such as attending Kindermusik class, children are given a head start in social emotional development. Children regularly enrolled in Kindermusik become familiar with what it takes to thrive in a group social setting. As babies they are given the opportunity for regular emotional bonding with caregivers. As toddlers they are able to spend time in imaginative play expressing themselves through song and dance. As a preschooler, using the relationship with their caregiver as a foundation, they build upon that and grow their confidence and happy memories with their peers and teachers on their own outside of the parental relationship. For example, here at Sing N Move, we offer a Kindermusik ‘Laugh & Learn’ class that combines a preschooler’s natural love of music, storytelling, and imaginative play with age-appropriate activities that introduce early music concepts and fosters independence, social and emotional skills, language growth, and self-control on their own as parents/caregivers are invited for the final activities in class during “sharing time.” Children in Laugh & Learn class actively expand their base of knowledge through trial and error, talking, moving, and of course, being silly! They have been engaging in practice and observing the necessary social skills through their early and toddler years, and during Laugh & Learn, are given the opportunity to test those learned skills in a safe, familiar, yet independent social group situation. Their imagination, a lot of music, the joy of being with friends, and some sharing time with family takes them on their way to becoming social, developed, promising musicians in their own right.
The social skills learned during all Kindermusik classes, especially Laugh & Learn, are skills that will assist children for their entire lives at home, in school, and collective society at large. Take a look at the video below of Laugh & Learn in action enjoying a circle dance during sharing time with their grown-ups! To practice self-regulation and social skills like sharing and patience Here’s a “Try It Tip” for home! The next time your family is gathered around the dinner table, try passing an instrument around giving each person a turn to play. Explain that everyone will get a turn to play the instrument however they would like and while the person holding the instrument plays it, the rest of the group can clap or pat along! This can translate to the future and having conversations about each other’s day, that in turn will assist your little one in building empathy and compassion for the experiences and interests of others.
Love Connection & Bonding
Being a loving and nurturing presence for your child is one of the most important jobs a parent/caregiver has. Although it sounds simple, cooing, tickling, cuddling and playing games with your child really does have an impact on their social, emotional, and overall brain/cognitive development. Yes, children are born with some innate traits, but the environment they experience on a daily basis has a significant impact on all areas of intelligence and eventually how they perform in school. The loving connection you make with your child both at home and during Kindermusik class naturally supports their learning and development, proof that you are their most important teacher! Children learn from you, so the behaviors you engage in and the rituals that you put in place allow them to feel comforted, nurtured, and safe because they know what to expect from different situations.
There are many ways to foster a strong emotional bond with your child including cuddling, rocking, and spending time doing what they find most enjoyable. These strategies support their ability to explore the world openly at their own pace. Here are some simple ways you can easily incorporate emotional bonding time with your child into your daily life! Make plenty of time for playing and make sure to play down on their level, literally, down on the ground! Even if it feels strange at first, talk to your child throughout your whole day and describe what you’re doing! Dance and be silly with your child as these types of activities allow wonderful opportunities for eye contact and modeling! Incorporate music, especially when cuddling. Your child doesn’t mind if you sing a wrong note because the sound of your voice is what they want to hear most!
Remember, when you are loving your child you are performing your most important job. Nurturing a love connection through these types of activities not only encourages their cognitive development, but helps to support a child in learning the meaning of family and why it is important, as well as why every family is different. Young children truly develop their first sense of meaningful relationships and community through you and the rest of their extended family/friends. So give one more tickle, rock one more time, and sing one more verse when you’re bonding with your child because although life can feel rushed and hectic at times, those are the moments and lessons that will last a lifetime.
Here's A "Try It Tip" - You can recreate many of the bonding and relaxing rituals done in class at home! For a basic idea of what this might look like, check out the following video!
Language & Literacy Development
Literacy is an integral part of every Kindermusik class experience because music is a natural delivery system for language! Songs, rhymes, finger plays, and story time are just a few examples of activities that focus on important language and literacy features like repetition and steady beat. So when we’re patting away during our hello song or reading stories with repetitive phrases, building language and literacy skills are some of our primary goals! Music has been proven to support early language development as music and speech are very similar; they are both made up of sounds, patterns, and rhythms. In turn, being part of a musical community and classroom experience impacts early language development by building a child’s sense of rhythm and steady beat.
Incorporating musicality into talking and reading with your child is such a natural way to immerse them in a world of communication through sound and to teach them sound making. Singing, reading, and talking together is truly the best way to build a child’s personal data bank of words! Kindermusik compiled a list of musical books (included below) to support early literacy and language development. If you’re looking for some new ways to work on language and literacy skills such as listening and vocabulary at home with your child, Here’s a “Try it Tip”: Make a field trip to your local library to search for one of the books from the list! While you get ready to go, try singing this simple song (sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), made up by Ms. Liv, about reading with your child! You can click the video link below for a video of what this might look and sound like:
Reading reading is so fun!
Fun for me and everyone!
Fun for you, fun for me
Fun for Mommy and Daddy!
Reading reading is so fun!
Under clouds and under sun!
List of 12 Musical Books to Support Early Literacy and Language Development
The Importance of Movement Labeling
Kindermusik prides itself on being a music and movement program! Moving is key to learning, especially for young children! Linking language and movement is how children develop both their vocabulary and their repertoire of physical movements. By labeling movement for children, they are able to make the connection between what they are hearing and what their body is doing.
Whether you’re reading, dancing, or singing there are so many opportunities to label movements. Many of the children’s books you read and songs you sing with your child incorporate movement words already! For example, during “Row Row Row Your Boat” you can row your arms back and forth with your child as you sing. It’s that easy, and even though it seems simple, that doesn’t negate how important it is and what it can do for your child’s vocabulary. When kids are dancing and moving to music that outlines the movements that triggers their brain to cross reference both hemispheres, right being the emotional/creative side and left the organizational/logical side. Labeling movement is an all-encompassing way of engaging in both cognitive development, exercise, and skills such as inhibitory control/spacial awareness all at the same time!
Want to incorporate movement labeling into your daily routine? Here’s a “Try it Tip” you can do at home! Next time your child asks for a snack, give your child a choice, asking them how they would like to go into the kitchen. Some suggestions might be jump, tip-toe, or march! As they move to the kitchen, label their movements by saying their choice as they move. For example, "Jump, jump, jump...jump, jump jump!" To extend the activity, you can go on a tour of your house labeling a different way of moving into each separate room! If your child isn’t walking yet, you can try lifting them and “Zoom, zoom, zooming” to the changing pad, rocking chair, or car seat. Check out the video below for an example!
Some more examples of movements that you can label include hop, slide, twirl, bounce, zig zag, stomp, gallop, or roll! Also, incorporating pretend play, for instance suggesting your child pretend to drive a car to each room in your house, allows for directional labeling as well. As you “drive, drive, drive” around the house moving your pretend steering wheels, you can cue your child when they need to turn left, right, backward, or forward. Even when you’re driving in the actual car, that is a great time to talk with your child about which way the car is moving and what direction you’ll be turning next!
Since children love to move and often never stop moving, it is easy to find areas of your lives that allow for incorporating movement labeling! The best part is, while you’re up and moving, singing, dancing and having fun, your child is not only learning but building skills, such as an expanded vocabulary, that will assist them in expressing their personal preferences and choices.
Sing N Move LLC is owned and opearted by Lena Sandulova-Baeza, licensed Kindermusik Educator, in the Lehigh Valley. Liv Forster is also a licensed Kindermusik Educator at Sing N Move LLC.