Sunday, October 19, 2014

Answer that Baby Babble to Speed Up Language Development


VocalPlay_Boosts_Early_Language_Development_KindermusikNew early childhood research from the University of Iowa and Indiana University found that how parents respond to all that baby talk can speed up a baby’s vocalizing and language development. That’s great news for those of us no longer fluent in Baby talk.
Hang around babies long enough and you start hearing things. From soft sweet coos to long monologues of “dadadadadada,” babies talk a lot—even though we have no idea what they are really saying! That’s okay. We don’t need to understand all the words (or non-words!) to join in the conversation.

How Parents Respond to All that Baby Babble Matters

“It’s not that we found responsiveness matters,” explained co-author Julie Gros-Louis in a press release, “It’s how a mother responds that matters.”
In this six-month-long study, the research team watched the interactions between a dozen mothers and their 8-month-old babies two times a month for 30 minutes. During this free playtime, the researchers monitored how mothers responded to their babies’ positive vocalizations when directed toward them.
Researchers learned that how the mothers respond makes a big difference in the language development of their babies:
  • Babies with mothers who responded to what they thought their babies were saying showed an increase in developmentally advanced, consonant-vowel vocalizations.
  • The babbling of these babies became sophisticated enough to sound more like words.
  • Over time these babies also began directing more of their babbling toward their mothers.
  • Babies whose mothers did not try as much to understand them and instead directed their infants’ attention to something else did not show the same rate of growth in their language and communication skills.
Bottom line: Respond to all that baby babble!

How to Answer that Baby Babble with Music

Babies love the sound of their parents’ voices. Parents can feed that love and grow their babies’ use of language at the same time by singing, listening, moving, and dancing to music. After all, music is a language parents and babies both understand.  Musical activities, such as those included in every Kindermusik class, help parents engage with their children and be responsive to them. Here are ways for parent-baby pairs and other caregivers and teachers to use music to support the early language development of babies.

1. Engage in vocal play—one of the earliest stages of language development. Vocal play is how babies’ learn to use the tongue, gums, and jaw muscles needed to produce vowels and consonants. When caregivers participate, too, they expose babies to the sounds that make up our language and encourage them to practice taking turns communicating. Vocal play works best when a parent and baby can see each other’s faces, making it easier for a child to mimic mouth movements. Plus, this eye contact also helps parents and babies bond.
Parenting Tip: Sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” with your little one. Pause after key parts of the song, such as “E-I-E-I-O” and wait for your baby to respond. You can also explore the different sounds the animals on the farm make like these families did in Kindermusik class:
 
2. Let babies experience steady beat by bouncing to music. The brain processes music in a similar way to how it processes language. Research even shows that children who can repeat and create a steady beat show increased neural responses to speech sounds when compared to other children. Steady beat competency relates to a child’s ability to speak and read fluidly during the school year.
Parenting Tip: Put on some music and bounce to the beat with your baby on your lap or on your hip. This lets babies experience steady beat with their whole bodies. Try one of our favorite lap bounces: Pizza, Pickle, Pumpernickel.

3. Rocking the way to language development. Gently rocking babies throughout those quiet moments of each day gives parents the opportunity to combine vocal play and steady beat—and receive 2x the benefits!
Parenting tip: At the end of the day or after a feeding, hum “Hush Little Baby” (or another favorite lullaby) while you gently rock or sway your little one to the beat. As with “Old MacDonald,” pause during key phrases and wait for your baby to respond. Before too long, your baby will grow into your toddler and be able to “rock” in a new way, like this Kindermusik toddler does at home while listening to music from class!
 
Throughout the Kindermusik experience, we use music to help parents engage with their children, be responsive to them, and gain developmental insights and practical tips along the way. After all, a parent is a child’s first and best teacher.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Expert Tip: How Your Child Learns Best

Did you know that you have access to an early childhood development expert? We don’t mean our Kindermusik educators, although, of course, with our years of experience and commitment to on-going education, we certainly qualify. We are talking about you. Seriously. No one knows your child better than you do, which makes you an expert on your little one! It’s also why we love partnering with parents throughout the entire Kindermusik journey. Together, we connect the dots between what the research says about how young children learn best with the very personalized and specific ways of your child.
So, take a moment to discover a little about the three main types of learners and celebrate the way your child learns best! We know that we do each week in class!
Three Types of Learning Styles


1. The Visual Learner (The Watcher)
·         Learns best by seeing information and observing surroundings
·         Watches more of what is going on than actually participating
·         Good sense of direction and spatial awareness
The Visual Learner in Kindermusik: A child who learns visually will need to watch an activity several times before feeling comfortable and safe enough to participate. In class, visual learners may choose to spend time close by a parent or other caregiver as “home base.”


2. The Kinesthetic Learner (The Mover)
·         Learns best by moving, touching, feeling, and physically exploring
·         Prefers to “show” rather than “tell” through body language and gestures
·         Coordinated, strong sense of timing, and works well with their hands
The Kinesthetic Learner in Kindermusik: A child who learns kinesthetically will often be first in line at trying out a new instrument, move around the whole room during movement activities, and inspire the curiosity and participation of others through a hands-on approach to class.

3. The Auditory Learner (The Listener)
·         Learns best by listening, especially to new information
·         Responds well to verbal prompts like, “Are you listening?” or “What do you hear?”
·         Strong language and communications skills and well-developed vocabulary
The Auditory Learner in Kindermusik: A child who learns by listening easily remembers words to songs, dance sequences, and even details from the story from week to week. Auditory learners are also quick to share opinions and ideas during class. 

This post was written by Kathy Morrison, a Kindermusik Maestro from Pittsburgh, PA.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Music Tunes Kids in for a Great Year

Music Tunes Kids in for a Great Year

Music tunes kids in to learning from the very first day of life. After all, even babies in neonatal care experience reduced heart rates and deeper sleep sleep when listening to live music. Research shows that musical activities stimulate development in every area of the brain: vision, balance, speech, behavior, sensation, skill, movement, and emotion. Music also impacts all learning domains (cognition, language and literacy, social and emotional, physical, creative, music). Music celebrates the unique joys of each year and developmental stage and prepares children for a lifetime of learning.

Musical activities to try at home or in the classroom that tune kids in to learning

For Babies: A baby cooing and babbling and imitating a lullaby being sung is learning how language works while also bonding with a caregiver. Gently swaying with the baby in time to the music adds vestibular development, pivotal to balance, coordination, eye control, and movement.
Music activities for kidsFor Toddlers:
Toddlers who march, stomp, jump, and tiptoe to a steady beat tapped on rhythm sticks are discovering new ways to move their bodies—and gaining confidence and an understanding of spatial awareness, too. Instructing children to stop when the beat stops (and moving when the beat starts again) includes inhibitory control development as toddlers learn to control their bodies. 
For Preschoolers: In a Preschool class when children experience musical rhythm patterns through movement, they also lay an early foundation for reading music and words on a page. When preschoolers play instruments along to the rhythms in a song, they also practice active listening and pattern recognition—with strong correlations to word recognition, speaking, reading, writing, and even math.
For Big Kids: When children intently listen for the sounds of a specific instrument in a song, use wood blocks to produce a staccato sound, or move smoothly with scarves when they hear the music change from staccato to legato, children practice active listening. Considering that school children spend an estimated 50 to 75 percent of classroom time listening to the teacher, to other students, or to media, developing strong active listening skills prepares kids for classroom learning.

Musical learning: The ultimate multi-tasker

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), “Any activity that stimulates one area of development automatically influences others. Good curriculum design must recognize and plan for this integration.” Activity by activity, every lesson in Kindermusik is designed to address multiple areas of development—and to tap into a variety of individual learning styles. Kindermusik’s carefully crafted activities and deliberately integrated sequences set the stage for optimal, multi-sensory learning experiences.
For example, children exploring the concepts of fast and slow might hear music that alternates between the two tempos. They may practice moving or playing instruments in time with what they hear. They could hear a story about a slow snail and a fast cheetah. In short, they explore and internalize the new concepts more effectively through multiple senses and activity types. (Not to mention, such an activity cluster also hones listening skills, self-control, expressive movement proprioception, coordination, and other skills!)