May 7, 2020
There is a lot of research on the impact of music for young children in the development of academic and social emotional skills. But what does music do that will make a difference during these difficult times of stress and social isolation? Music is a connector. It connects us to people, events and periods of time. Hearing certain songs may remind you of times in your life that were filled with emotion. Do you remember songs that were popular during high school? Songs that were sung to you as a child? Songs evoke feelings and memories. Songs, music and movement are also a release for feelings.
I have seen the face of a child light up when a familiar song from school is sung by their teacher on Zoom. Greeting songs, circle songs, movements songs help bring back memories and feelings of community. Singing familiar songs, listening to favorite music, and moving to music used in your classroom connects the child to the experience of being “in school”.
Encouraging Music at Home
Children get a sense of comfort and routine from songs and music. Helping parents understand the use of songs and music at home will give them another tool to help their child. Many parents probably use songs at bedtime. The songs provide comfort, security, and a calming effect. Parents should be encouraged to use songs, music, movement and rhyme throughout the day.
If Zooming with your class, review your clean up song and ask the children to share it with their parents. This can be used at home as a transition to lunch, outside time, and from unstructured play to a learning activity. Playing music to define lengths of time is helpful also. “When the song is done we will stop the video game and go outside.”
Movement to songs such as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes helps children practice following directions, and encourages listening skills, as well as learning body parts. Playing Freeze Dance helps children with listening and self regulation. Playing this at home helps children get out the wiggles!
Unstructured musical activities are important as well. Have fun, be playful and creative. At home one of the best things to do with children is to have a dance party. Just put on some music and dance away! Scarves can be used to encourage movement of the arms and hands and more fluid movement.
Some parents may find it difficult to be spontaneous. Children enjoy having their adults participate. They are not as judgmental and critical as other adults may be. And sharing these activities helps build a connection between parent and child.