Early intervention matters in all areas of child development…from speech and language, motor skills, early literacy skills, positive behavior, and more. The sooner a child receives help the greater the impact. As educators, therapists, doctors, and researchers learn more and more how to identify early markers for intervention needs, children at risk for delays receive early intervention strategies, well, earlier. Some of the indicators may seem unrelated at first. For example, new research gives guidance in identifying young children who may need extra mathematical help…all by looking at their motor skills!

Motor Skills as Early Predictor of Math Skills
A Norwegian study shows that two-year-olds with poor motor skills also exhibit poor mathematical skills. Teachers can use this information to identify children who may need extra help.

“It is important that teachers of small children are aware of these findings. It will be easier for them to identify children who may be at risk of having difficulties in understanding mathematics. This knowledge can ensure that teachers and staff are quicker to help and support such children with mathematics,” said Associate Professor Elin Reikerås of the Norwegian Reading Centre in a University of Stavanger press release.

In the study, the research team evaluated the motor skills of two-year-old children by assessing their abilities to complete jigsaw puzzles, eat with utensils, use scissors, walk around a room without bumping into things, playing on the playground, and throwing and catching balls. Based on their motor skills abilities, the team divided the children into three groups: poor, average, and strong.

Then, the team examined various mathematical abilities of the children, such as if the children were able to use their fingers to show how old they were, if they could use the shape sorter box, play picture lotto, sort toys or objects by color or size, demonstrate the difference between big and small through the use of body language or words, and use numerals.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer in the Atlanta area.

Have you ever wondered: Why do we have a movement component in our music classes? What types of movement experiences should I expect?

Young children experience the world through movement. Movement plays an important role in how and what children learn. It is a crucial component to ALL learning at this age. This is why it seems to us adults that the child is constantly moving.

Our classes use circle dances, finger plays, free/expressive dances, imitative movements (ie: moving like a car, train or animal), and much more in every single class.

There are several important movement concepts that are used in our Kindermusik classes:

Body Awareness: Labeling, moving, focusing on and controlling specific and isolated body parts as well as the whole body.

Spatial Awareness: Fostering an understanding of how our body’s move in space and understanding our personal space. We use important directional words like: around, through, over, under, up, down, inside, outside, behind, next to, to the side, etc.

Fine Motor Experiences: The movements made by coordinating small muscles such as fingers, hands, toes and feet. These experiences greatly help children develop writing skills! Read more

Listening to and identifying sounds is the earliest phonological awareness skill and one of the most important pre-literacy competencies. Without this skill, there will be no progress toward phonics, spelling, or text comprehension.

How Children Become Phonologically Aware

Children become phonologically aware in a specific developmental sequence, beginning with the larger sound units (e.g., tapping each word in a sentence), then focusing on parts of individual words (e.g., blending two words to make a compound word, such as cup-cake), and finally focusing on smaller sound units (/b/-/ig/) within words.

This developmental sequence is universal…meaning that children who are English language learners are able to transfer phonological awareness skills from their first language, even when the two languages are very different! And children who speak other alphabetic languages also progress through the same sound-awareness sequence, from larger to smaller units.

Kindermusik@Home Activity that Supports Phonological Awareness

There is such a thing as training an ear. Parents can extend the application of a listening activity like this one from Kindermusik@Home to pre-literacy by gathering a variety of sound-making materials and playing with different pitches, paces, and lengths of sound. The more experience children gain in learning to identify the subtle nuances between musical timbres and pitches, the more prepared they will be to recognize and identify the distinct sounds within words.

Kindermusik@Home activity: “Which Woodwind?” Give young children’s listening skills a workout with this fun, musical game. Kids will learn to identify a piccolo, flute, oboe, bassoon, and bagpipe.

This post was written by Minds on Music (the Kindermusik official blog).

We like to tell parents that they are their child’s first and best teacher because it’s true! Sure, parents may not always know all the answers—like that initial night home from the hospital (now what?!) or when a baby experiences a growth spurt and wakes up every two hours (why?!).

But, thankfully parenting is not about personally knowing all of the answers all of the time. It doesn’t change the fact that parents ARE the early childhood experts when it comes to their own children.

Of course, everyone needs a little help and affirmation now and again…even the experts. Music can be the go-to resource to help make parenting just a little bit easier and support a parents’ unique role in a young child’s life. In fact, we think music gives parents super powers! Music can provide moments throughout the day (or night) to pause and celebrate the parent-child bond and reinforce a young baby’s development. Here are a few ways babies benefit when parents add music to their parenting toolkit. Read more