6 reasons music belongs in a Head Start or preschool programSomething amazing happens in a preschool classroom when music comes out to play. Children (and teachers!) smile and laugh, hum or sing along, and move their bodies to the steady beat. Children express thoughts and feelings naturally and easily through movement and music. However, the benefits of music reach beyond the simple pleasure of making music together. Participating in musical activities preps children for so much more than, well, music appreciation. It actually primes the brain for learning and sets a child up for success in school now—and later!

6 reasons to bring music and movement into a Head Start, Early Head Start, or Preschool program

  1. Movement stimulates the release of chemicals in a child’s brain that support memory and learning. Young children move to learn and learn to move. Music education classes for young children encourage them to move around the classroom and practice using their arms, legs, feet, and their entire bodies. In our Head Start curriculum, when we clap hello at the beginning of class, fly like a bird, stand and stretch our arms high like a tree, or even dance around the room, children strengthen and refine gross motor skills. Plus, all of this movement supports memory and learning, promotes vestibular system development, and engages the body and mind. In early childhood development, movement prepares children for learning! Valerie Strauss explained it this way in The Washington Post article, “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today: “In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order to pay attention, we need to let them move.”
  2. Music teaches children sequencing. Being able to break down a task into steps from first to last, helps young children comprehend a story, complete a math problem, and even get dressed to go to school each morning. Plus, breaking down a task—like getting ready for recess—into steps (clean up area, push in chair, put on jacket, stand in line, etc.) gives young children practice in self-management, which reduces frustration. In our preschool curriculum, we provide lots of sequencing opportunities through music and movement activities.
  3. Children gain practice in recognizing relationships between sounds and symbols. Do you remember taking spelling tests as a child? Sitting at your desk, listening intently as your teacher said a word, and then trying to visualize what the word looked like while also attempting to write it on your paper? Listening, identifying the word, and then writing the word down helped you become a better reader. Although we don’t give spelling tests (or any tests, for that matter) in our preschool curriculum, we do give children’s ears lots of musical practice in listening to rhythms, identifying what they hear, repeating them, and using rhythm cards to “write” the patterns down. We call this process rhythmic dictation. So, while we “ta ta ti-ti ta,” clap, pick out the right rhythm card, or play an instrument along with the music, young children gain practice in recognizing relationships between sounds and symbols, which supports preschoolers budding musicianship and early literacy skills.
  4. Music helps children develop self-regulation skills. Self-regulation is the ability to control our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Our Head Start curriculum uses music and movement to help children learn to tell their bodies what to do, when to stop, when to go, and when to move to another activity. So, when we play a Stop & Go game, participate in a circle dance, transition from one activity to another, and even share instruments, young children learn and practice self-regulation skills. Those same skills help children pay attention throughout the school day and act and behave appropriately.
  5. Music builds early literacy and language skills. Research indicates that our brains process music and language in similar ways because they share fundamental connections. Understanding a spoken sentence requires the successful auditory processing of the individual phonemes combined with the intonation communicated by pitch. In addition, music supports comprehension, phonological awareness, vocabulary acquisition, and print development.
  6. Every child and every parent speaks music, regardless of abilities and the language used in the home. Parent involvement in early childhood education matters. Every preschool teacher and Head Start administrator understands that it can be the difference between a child exceeding…or not.  After all, a parent is a child’s first and best teacher, especially in those critical first seven years. It’s one of the reasons our Head Start curriculum includes monthly materials for families to use together at home, where a child learns best. These materials include the music from class and the book as well as practical ideas and tips on incorporating the music and movement activities throughout a family’s daily routines and rituals.

Learn About Kindermusik at SchoolFor more information about bringing music into your Head Start or preschool program, email us at abcinfo@kindermusik.com. Be sure to ask how children participating in our classes for 30 minutes a week experience a 32 percent more literacy gain.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer living in Atlanta, Georgia.

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