When parents of toddlers get together and the subject of schools comes up, the question of whether or not your child will be prepared for school inevitably comes up. It’s easy to start worrying if they will be able to read and write in time. But what I know from my experience as an elementary school teacher is that children need to learn how to be ready to learn. We teachers want children in our classes that know how to get along with other children, listen to the teacher, and take turns. We look for these signs of school readiness: self-regulation, listening, social-emotional skills, plus pre-literacy and pre-math skills.

One of the best ways to gain these skills is through group music classes. Why? Well, firstly, kids learn these school readiness skills best in an environment with other children. Secondly, they also learn pre-math and pre-literacy through music. Third reason? The learning is all through play – it’s fun!  

Music class helps self-regulation

Depending on where your child goes to school, there could be up to 30 children in a classroom – that’s 30 possible distractions! So, if your child can control their own behavior, emotions, thoughts and impulses, they are better at being able to focus. In our Kindermusik classes, children are given lots of practice moving to music, stopping and then starting again – all in a safe space with other children. By taking turns, they learn how to control their behavior and emotions. They learn about personal space and controlling their bodies while dancing with their friends. So what may look like kids rocking out to their favorite songs, is really them learning what is considered safe and appropriate behavior through example and positive reinforcement. 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).

How early music instruction impacts early literacy development

Still wondering if you should sign your little one up for a music class?? Check out all of these wonderful benefits: Read more