I love taking my kids to Kindermusik classes. They have so much fun participating in the activities and singing the songs. Not only do they love it, but their development benefits from the music education. They don’t even know they are working on reading, math, social/emotional, motor, and listening skills. According to the Kindermusik website,
“Psychologists, neuroscientists, and experts in early childhood development have demonstrated that music does more for children than bring them joy; it helps their brain cells make the connections needed for virtually every kind of intelligence. Kindermusik’s curriculum is built on this research.
When young children are consistently engaged by music in an age-appropriate, socially accepting environment, they benefit at many levels:
They gain the phonological processing, spoken language, and comprehension skills that are the foundation of reading.
They build the spatial-temporal and reasoning skills required for math, science, and engineering.
They develop social and emotional skills that are essential for school readiness—like the ability to regulate their responses and relate to others in complex ways.
By moving and dancing to music and playing simple instruments, children improve their gross and fine motor skills. Activities that encourage freedom within a fun and friendly structure spark their creativity.”
I’ve watched my kids grow to love a variety of music, dance, and instrument play that has carried over from class to home. We play different types of music and dance around the house. We play instruments, make our own music, and make up our own songs. Parker has become quite the singer and Brandon is learning to get his groove on. Music and music education has become an important part of our lives.
Parker saw a ladybug today and quickly identified its elytra. How many three year olds know what elytra is? They would if they watched The Fascinating World of Insects! He watched the video with us while it was in production and learned several interesting facts and details about the insects. Now, he is able to interact with the insects he sees and talk about them at a higher level than other kids his age. Just by watching The Fascinating World of Insects, he’s been given an opportunity to increase his vocabulary now that should enable him to achieve at a greater level later.
What a fantastic day at the zoo! I packed up the kids, the wagon, a picnic lunch, and headed out for Woodland Park Zoo. Before we even got past the first exhibit, Parker exclaimed, “The zoo is fun!” Most of the animals were out in view, which allowed for many questions about why the animals look a certain way or do what they do. We were able to observe feeding time for several animals, as well. It was fun to talk with Parker about the animals and their habitats and to answer the several hundred questions he asked. I loved watching Brandon’s reaction to the different animals, too. He seemed indifferent to many, but smiled at the meerkat exhibit, squealed when he saw the elephants, and roared at the lions.
I felt this was such a valuable experience for both of my boys. Parker is at a point in his development where he is able to ask specific questions regarding the animals’ food, actions, and habitats. He’s very curious and this was an opportunity for me to turn our day trip into a daylong science lesson. Brandon, on the other hand, is learning to identify animals and what sounds they make. He was able to see, firsthand, the animals that we see pictures of and talk about at home. I believe it made a difference seeing the animals in person and helped him improve his vocabulary and language. By going to the zoo, my boys can learn about the world around them. We’ll definitely return in the coming months.
It’s exciting to witness Parker’s reading development! He’s not quite three years old and reading! He calls out words like bank, zoo, east, and west while in the car. He reads sections of his books to us and his younger brother. He identifies words in the books that my husband and I read. Although he surprises us every day with what he can read, I think we gave him, and continue to give him, an environment that has facilitated his skill development.
The U.S. Department of Education lists various activities to do with your children to encourage literacy development and I was pleased to see that we already do quite a bit of what they suggest. We have read to Parker from day one and surround him with a literate rich environment. Children’s books, adult fiction and nonfiction, magazines, letter magnets, and foam letters in the bath fill our home. We point out and talk about signs in the community. Parker loves to be read to from both his books and ours. Frequently, he asks us to read out loud from the books we are reading. We read to him while he’s in the bath. In fact, he’s chosen to listen to the first two Harry Potter books and
the Narnia series. Looking through magazines with Parker from an early age has been fun because we use them for vocabulary building. We’d either point to a picture or ask him to name it, or we’d ask him to point to a particular picture. It was so fun and rewarding to see that adorable smile on his face when he knew he was correct. Parker loves to sing the Alphabet Song and we play with how fast or slow we sing it. He thinks it so funny to hear Mommy sing the ABC’s as fast as she can. One game he likes to play is where one of us chooses a letter and then we take turns naming words that start with that letter. The list goes on and on.
The idea is to continuously play with words and sounds and encourage our children to play along. Show them how important reading is. Not just from books, but in all elements of our lives. Help instill the love of reading and get them hooked at an early age, and there’s no telling where their skills will lead them.
As a middle school teacher, I still see kids with immature pencil grips. I wonder how they got to this point in their school career with this grip and the messy handwriting that seems to go along with it. I then wonder how I can teach my sons how to write while holding their pencil correctly and without stress and frustration. In my quest for answers, I found a useful book called The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories by Jennifer Hallissy. The author is an occupational therapist who offers thorough explanations of the stages of writing and activities to promote the use of a correct grip. She even provides step-by-step directions of a correct grip. I can now encourage my preschooler to move his little fingers a certain way, much to his chagrin. I’ve also tried some of these activities with him and have seen a difference in his ability to complete the task without the frustration that he sometimes feels. He doesn’t even know that playing with Play-Doh, finger painting, and using sidewalk chalk are getting his hands ready for handwriting. It’s been exciting to watch his writing develop from nondescript scribbles to defined circles and lines.