March 19, 2020
With most families staying at home these days in order to help stop the spread COVID-19, or to avoid catching the disease, parents are having to come up with different ways to engage, entertain, and teach their children. Luckily, one of the easiest ways to get your child's attention is with your own voice and the power of music!
You probably already instinctively use music with your children. Whether it's a lullaby to relax them to sleep, a rise-and-shine song in the morning, or even a silly, made-up song about using the potty, most of us use music and song throughout the day to engage with our children. This is one of those parenting instincts that packs an intellectual punch because research has proven that early childhood exposure to music and song helps build children's brains in many crucial ways. You might not realize it, but even the sounds of the lyrics can help children to recognize the separate sounds of words, helping them learn to speak clearly while also building their vocabulary. Early childhood exposure to music teaches even the youngest toddlers to differentiate between tones and to develop their understanding of rhythm and melody. As an added bonus, most children naturally love music!
With this knowledge, parents and care givers might try incorporating music throughout their days together at home - and the more interactive the songs, the better! Songs or music that spark joy for you will likely do the same for your children, but if you need some ideas to get started, here are some tried and true favorites from our Pre-School Story Time friends:
- "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hthbX82oKA We all know it, children love it, and you can include hand gestures too if you'd like to add a little pizzazz. This one has the added bonus of being the same tune as the "Alphabet Song," so it's a natural transition to learning the ABCs! This is a great winding-down song - perfect for bedtime.
- "If You're Happy and You Know It": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzW7zt2EUb4 A classic call-and-response song that will get children moving and can spark creativity. Let them decide what to do for any additional verses - "if you're scared and you know it" or "if you're surprised and you know it." Give your child the opportunity to participate in the song and they'll also learn some new vocabulary for a variety of emotions.
- "Sticky Sticky Bubble Gum": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaRKaE6sE4E This is another favorite with the pre-school crowd, and it can be even more fun if you can find something stretchy to use as your "gum." Again, kids can take part by helping select where the gum will "stick," and then they can count down to the grand un-sticking!
Have fun bonding with your children, exploring music with them and incorporating it into everyday life. Also, don't be afriad to share your favorite music with them and encourage them to sing with you. You say you don't have a good singing voice? Your child doesn't care! They just love to hear you sing - and to sing along. My son's favorite song, at five years old, was The Beatles' "Eight Days a Week." I took him to a little coffee shop that had karaoke and he and I got up on stage and belted that song out in front of a gaggle of teenage girls. Now he's 16, plays three instruments, and music is an enormous part of his life. It's never too early to instill a love of music, and the benefits will be with you both for a lifetime.
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