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Shared Music Experiences & Child Development

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Jamming with your toddler: how music trumps reading for childhood development, by Liam Viney

This article  by Liam Viney references a study conducted at the University of Queensland School of Music in Australia. For decades Australia has been the frontrunner in education, especially early childhood education and child development. They are on the cutting edge of new research and we would be smart to take heed.

The gist of the study and thus, the article is: Creating and sharing musical experiences with young children, in playful and informal settings, benefits the children in early development to include reading, social skills, math, and regulation of attention and emotions.  But what does that mean for the typical parents of toddlers?

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

These are some very simple and easy ways a parent can put Viney’s research into action to benefit their child(ren). Often times, parents are too rushed or preoccupied with life to feel as though they are capable of creating every day actions and behaviors that could truly make a huge difference in the development of their children. Hopefully, these simply suggestions will help:

  • When riding in the car, make up songs about what you see. For instance, (Sung to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb), “Now I see a great big truck, great big truck, great big truck. Now I see a great big truck; it’s red and white and blue!” If your child is verbal, you can take turns making up verses. If not, just singing the lyrics to your child will do the trick.
  • When you are cooking, designate a spot in your line of sight where your child can “create” music. Give him pots and pans and a wooden spoon. Model for him how you can make a sound and then turn him loose!
  • While dressing your toddler, focus on colors as you create a song to “Love is Blue,” “Blue, blue my dress is blue; blue is my dress, my socks are blue, too!” Change the color with each article of clothing. If a child is just learning her colors, you can help encourage learning by singing, “Red, red my shorts are _______,” and allowing your child to fill in the blank with the correct color.
  • When your toddler is in the highchair or booster seat, ready for lunch, you might sing, “Sam is eating meatballs, meatballs and spaghetti. One, two, three and he gobbles it up!” to the tune of “Ring Around the Rosey”.
  • When it’s time to pick up toys, Barney’s “Clean Up Song” is great for motivating little ones to “do their share”. You can personalize it by singing, “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere! Clean up, clean up, Jennifer will do her share!”
  • To help with bedtime, try singing your own version of “Old Macdonald”: “Now it’s time to go to sleep, I am very tired. My day was fun now I must rest. I am very tired. First I took my bath, put my jammies on, brushed my teeth, said my prayers, next we sing our bedtime song. Now it’s time to go to sleep, I am very tired.” Remember, repetition is the mother of all learning  . . . keep it simple and repetitive.

I hope these simple examples will get you started on a deliberate path to creating musical experiences with your little ones. After reading Viney’s article, you will have the foundational research behind such activities. These suggestions will provide you with practical application for your everyday life. Of course, my suggestions are just the beginning. You are only limited by your own imagination and creativity! Have fun making music with your children and enjoy watching them GROW!

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Slow Down

I’ve always encouraged parents to enjoy every age and stage with their children. Each one holds unique growth and development and we can’t imagine the next being as wonderful. The truth is, every stage is magical because the treasures that are our children are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and when we see them, we see God’s miracle of birth in the flesh. Still, I understand the longing to soak up every step, every word, every expression, every laugh and every turn of the corner as we witness our little children grow and develop into the people they were made to be. Enjoy this beautiful song and Happy Mother’s Day. slow down

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Write It Down

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I’m finding that the older I get, the more important it is for me and the more value I see in taking the time to write things down. This documentation allows me to go back and review/renew my thoughts. Thoughts are preserved for recollecting and refreshing and ideas have a chance to blossom when put aside for a time of rest. I hesitantly wandered into the Facebook Notes forum initially, which allowed me to share important information with friends and family from a distance. However, I decided I needed to continue to learn and grow with the social media tide and move forward by venturing into blogging.  Who would have ever imagined during my childhood in the 1950s that I would one day take to cyberspace to share my thoughts? The world continues to change and sometimes we must change with it, or we are left behind. This is one of those times for me. I will still send hand-written thank you notes, say “yes, sir/m’am” and “no, sir/m’am” to my elders, and hold the door for anyone approaching as I exit; but as far as this social media trend is concerned, I will play along for now, jump in with both feet and enjoy the ride. It’s good for me to exercise my synapse connections every chance I get and, who knows, someone else might even broaden their perspective as they peruse the blogosphere. I’m hoping it will serve me in recollections and research and possibly, by chance, serve someone else in the mean time. Here’s to new and exciting adventures in blogging!