From transitions to circle time, sing your heart out.
To teach young children is to sing. Whether you start the day with music to welcome your class to enter the room or sing them to join circle, music should be an integral part of an enriched learning environment. At the same time, few early childhood educators say they sing well. Not all preschool teachers are Juilliard trained musicians. Most teachers prefer audiences of children to sing with abandon. Even if you think you sound like a squawking goose; remember, young children respond to music and song throughout the day.
Before children enter preschool, music shapes their world. Newborn babies react from a sort of primal location in the brain to music. A baby is comforted by rhythmic pats or soothed by a soft humming voice. “Our bodies cannot help but “react physiologically to musical input.” Recent neuroscience research discovered something long known by teachers; “beat” is an attention grabber.
The list of developmental skills explored through music is endless. Research suggests music effects cognitive development in young children. Since the most important and rapid brain development occurs before the age of six, a preschool class without music short changes the child. A second rapidly developing skill in young children is vocal speech and language. Music exploration of rhyme, rhythm and repetition improves language skills at a critical time in development. Rhyming allows children to play with words. Rhyme, rhythm and repetition boost language and literacy. Music is a natural motivator for children to “communicate with the world and may be their first exposure to their own culture or the cultures of other people.”
Endless research has proven music is inherently mathematical. Music introduces skills such as one-to-one correspondence, sequencing, counting, and patterning. Beat is not just a mathematical skill, however. Children who are able to maintain a beat or repeat a rhythm sequence tend to be naturally better readers. Most importantly, “young children engage in music as an exploratory activity, one that is interactive, social, creative, and joyful.”
In a blog on the NAfME’s website, Curry, Ladendorf and Moore sum up the power of song best.
“So, sing often. Sing what you love, and share repertoire of lasting quality. Look for the Newberry and Caldecott equivalents of music repertoire. Mindfully cultivate and model with your own healthy teaching and singing voice. Facilitate active music-making. Be inspiring and teach with joy. Listen.”
Keep a song in your pocket!