Yesterday on my Facebook page, I shared a link to an article from TIME called "How Music Trumps Reading for Child Development". You can take a look at the article for yourself, but here are some of the key points:
- Informal music making between a parent and child has a greater impact than CDs or shows that teach music
- Informal music-making in the home from around the ages of two and three can lead to better literacy, numeracy, social skills, and attention and emotion regulation by the age of five
- Music making should be playful
- Voice is a great place to start
On my Facebook post, someone wrote "I have no money for lessons. What do I do as a homeschool mom. Any suggestions?"
YES! I have lots of suggestions for parents whether you homeschool or not.
1) Sing to your child -
Whether you think that you can sing or not, it is SO important to sing to your child. Singing in early childhood not only helps with bonding between the parent and child, it build literacy, fluency, and helps your child to be tuneful. Not sure what to sing? Start with children songs from YOUR CHILDHOOD! These songs have stood the test of time and are a great place to start when building song repertoire for you and your child.
These could be songs you sing together as well as songs that are just for them to listen to.
Here are some of my three year old's favorites to sing alone or with me:
1) Old MacDonald
2) ABC song
3) Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
4) Baa Baa Black Sheep (does your child notice that this sounds the same, or has the same melody, as Twinkle and ABCs?)
5) Ring Around the Rosie (with game - they LOVE it)
6) London Bridges (play as a family, making an arch and letting your child go through the arch, they love being captured when the bridge falls down at the end of the song)
7) See Saw Up and Down
1) All the Pretty Little Horses
2) Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree
3) Hush Little Baby
4) The Crabfish
5) The Gypsy Rover
I also sing her several of my favorite songs from musicals.
Need more ideas for building song repertoire for you and your child to sing together? I highly recommend any of Jill Trinka's CDs. Again, the point isn't just to listen to the CD in the car (although that is good), but to learn the songs so that YOU can sing them with or to your child.
The book includes the singing games, but if you just want the songs, they are available on iTunes as well. Listen to a sample here:
2) Make music with found sounds
Find different kinds of sounds around the house. These do not have to be "real instruments". Kids can turn almost anything into a noise maker. Pull out your pots and pans and hand them stirring spoons, fill empty butter containers or Easter eggs with things that they can shake. The possibilities are
3) Listen and MOVE to all kinds of music
My husband and I have very different tastes in music so our daughter has been exposed to so much in her 3 years. He is a 5-12 band teacher and he loves jazz so much that he got a double major in music education and jazz performance. He has exposed her to so many different things in that genre and she can identify most instruments after hearing just a few seconds of something. I was in music theatre growing up, so I love listening to showtunes. I also love listening to classical music, oldies, and a lot of things that are on the radio today (don't judge).
One thing that you will find with kids is that when they are young they have the ears for all kinds of music and they are not judgmental about music that sounds "different", "out there", or "weird" like many adults will. We have been careful to let her form her own opinions about the music she listens to and not influence her opinion of a piece.
I strongly suggest exposing your kids to varied kinds of music.
The music becomes more a part of them if they PLAY with it. For kids, this may mean rocking to the music, patting their laps to help them feel the beat, dancing with your child, etc. They so desperately need to move to the music they are listening to.
4) Bring songs to life with illustrated picture books
There are SO many illustrated nursery rhyme and song books out there. Snatch them up! I usually don't use a book to introduce the song or rhyme to my daughter. If it is a rhyme we might act it out, do a fingerplay or actions if there are some to go along with it. If it is a song, I sing it to her a few times before I pull out the book because I want her to imagine whatever she will and not have preconceived illustrations in her mind. Let them use their imagination.
Here are some of our favorite books to sing (Note that not all of these are lullabies. You need some fun, silly books too!)
Somewhere Over the Rainbow (I do love these illustrations)
This hardcover is one of my daughter's favorites. It has 170 different nursery rhymes and folk songs and includes favorites like "Hickory Dickory Dock", "Brahms Lullaby", "All the Pretty Little Horses", "Hot Cross Buns", "Little Sally Walker", and SO many more.
Oh my daughter thinks this one is hysterical!
5) Incorporate singing into make believe/pretend play
When playing with doll, puppets, stuffed animals, house, or whatever it happens to be, we find was to incorporate music, whether that is different high or low voices for different characters, sing-songy play, or just expression. My daughter has Joy and Sadness plush toys from the Disney Movie, Inside Out and she makes their voices sound different. What a fun way to play with expression.
This summer we added nursery rhymes to our chalk time outside like this:
Little Miss Muffet
Jack Be Nimble
If you are a homeschool parent looking for ideas for school age children, I would also recommend looking into different music educator workshops in your state or area, attending conferences, and being a part of professional organizations like OAKE or NAfME to get more training and ideas. As a Kodaly trained teacher, I think it would be great for homeschool students because the voice is the primary instrument used. You could also look into Suzuki lessons for the child and parent to take together, but for the purposes of this post, I wanted to really focus on early childhood music in the home.
What are some of your favorite ways to make music with your kids? Sound off in the comments below!