Showing posts with label Early Childhood Development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Early Childhood Development. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why music makes you smarter

I often talk in Kindermusik class about the role that music plays in stimulating the cognitive development in young children. The sequencing and pattern awareness for the finger plays and various dances encourage brain development in even the youngest students. With that in mind, let's take a look at what kind of cognitive skills should you expect from your infant and how to enhance them.
A typical baby that is under 6 months old will already be playing with rattles. Your baby will also explore objects or their own hands, feet, etc. by mouthing them. This is simply an effective way for them to understand the various sensory aspects of this newly found object. Make sure to give them a variety of safe and creative objects to explore with you. Young babies also enjoy repeating newly learned activities, and even as young as 2 months old, you may see excited anticipation during this playtime. It's a great time to introduce finger play rhymes while facing your newborn. Allow them to examine your face as you sing to them. Your little one is also learning to soothe at the sound of your voice, so sing a favorite lullaby to comfort or rock your child to sleep. I hope you enjoy this very special time of bonding with your newborn.

Until next time,

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Terrifically, tumultuous twos

We've now reached the second year in our journey through social milestones of young children. Most people associate this age with the infamous "terrible twos". Life can be quite tumultuous when you're two, but it doesn't have to terrible. Armed with the right information and skills, I think any parent can turn this phase of development into the "terrific twos"!  Here are a few things to expect:
  • Your two year old will begin to enjoy a wider range of relationships, but he will still feel strongly possessive of his family.
  • His growing imagination may cause him to develop sudden fears that were not there before.
  • Frustration tantrums peak, as does clinging and whining. However with patience and proper guidance, you will see greater independence and less separation anxiety as they approach their third birthday.
  • Your child will begin to understand and respect simple rules around this age.
  • He will enjoy playing interactive and circle games, such as "Ring Around the Rosey".
You can encourage your child's confidence and obedience during this phase by giving him opportunities to choose something related to the trouble area. For example, a child who is not wanting to go to bed could be offered a choice of which bed time story to read before going to sleep. I hope you'll leave some of your parenting ideas for this age as a comment below. Just remember that patience and consistency are your keys to making this stretch of road the "highway of terrific twos"!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Growing to greatness!

Toddlers- Such a tiny package of humanity, and yet so full of emotion, energy, creativity, and curiosity! It's an exciting time of increased imagination and emotional awareness. At 18-24 months old, your toddler will likely begin some early pretend play, such as acting like a favorite animal or using a banana to try to brush their hair like mommy does with her brush. Due to this increase in imaginative skills, parents may also see the first signs of night mares and "monsters under the bed". 

It's a great time to begin group activities with your child, if you haven't done so already. At this stage, your toddler is much more aware of other children and will interact with words and gestures while playing in a group setting. Your toddler is also beginning to discover more types of emotions, such as jealousy, sympathy, guilt, and fear. That makes this a great age to begin talking about body language, facial expressions, and the feelings that go with them.

•Grab a mirror for some face making fun.

•See who can find different facial expressions when reading a book.

•Talk about how you or your child feels and why. This will give them a better understanding of healthy emotional expression.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Happy Birthday, Little One!

The first birthday- It's a time to celebrate so many wonderful accomplishments. Your baby's developmental milestones are measured by months or years now rather than days and weeks. At this stage, he is truly beginning to understand how things work and the "cause and effect" nature of objects and situations around him. As a result, his social development takes on a new level of interaction. Here are a few things to expect:
  • Cooperative ball play
  • Giving a toy to you and then taking it back (this is a great stage to begin working on sharing and turn taking!)
  • Begins to imitate adult behaviors; such as trying to brush hair, sweep, or put on how own shoes
  • Laughs at silly things and begins to understand humor
  • Resists adult control and may display frequent tantrum behaviors (Remember that he is learning about cause and effect. Giving in to tantrums can teach your baby to tantrum every time in order to get their way.)
  What a fun age to deepen your relationship with your baby! His creativity is growing, and you can really begin to see his personality beginning to shine! It's a great time to get out in your community with your child. Look for story times at your local library or book store. Join a local mom's group for playdates at the park, or try a free Kindermusik class. Click here to find a location in your area.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Your ever changing baby!

Reaching the 6-12 month mile marker is an amazing time! Your child gains mobility and a greater cognitive awareness in a variety of ways during this age range, and these new skills will bring about a lot of changes in social development as well. I remember thinking that mine learned things while they were sleeping! Here are a few things to look for:

•Your child's love of interactive games, such as finger plays, will increase. You will even see them beginning to imitate some of the movements from their favorites!

•They typically begin to show preferences for certain people, places, or objects. For this reason, you may notice separation anxiety increasing.

•Your baby will use their new found mobility to explore their surroundings with enthusiasm. Time to baby-proof the house!! :)

•You may begin to see the initial stages of parental testing with regards to bed time, feeding, or other boundaries you have set.

As your child grows and learns, you will find that each stage carries with it, it's own joys and struggles. I encourage you to embrace each moment, as you enjoy learning more about your child and his or her strengths and abilities.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Your social butterfly!

The first three months with a newborn are some of the hardest. It often feels like all they can do is sleep, eat,  poop, repeat. It's a busy time filled with learning to read and understand your baby's cues all while your baby is busy growing and changing too. Moving beyond the three month marker can be a real turning point for most new parents. Your baby has finally learned how to interact socially with you!

She begins to coo and smile when she sees you. Soon she will begin lifting her arms for you to pick her up. This is an age where your child begins to enjoy hand games, mirror play, and other social activities, such as playgroups or "mommy and me" music classes. By 6 months old, your child will likely develop a strong attachment to you, so plan to interact along side your child during these outings. This will help her to be more comfortable while she explores and learns, as well as promote a strong bond between the two of you.

We'll continue our social milestone journey next time with a post on the 6-12 month old child. Until then...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Starting the Journey of a Lifetime

Have you ever wondered what it must have been like to be a newborn? You are snugly and warm inside your mother's womb and suddenly...LIGHTS, SOUNDS, ACTION! It must be an amazing transition. From the start, your newborn baby is very busy making sense of the world around them.  She lacks mobility, and therefore she will spend a great deal of time watching, listening, and learning! She'll spend time studying everything- your face, the ceiling fan, he hand, or even that little speck of lint on the floor. Around three months old, they will even begin to coo and vocalize to all of these objects. Use this time during your baby's development for lots of face-to-face interaction and talking. Let him see your sounds as you interact and talk. He'll enjoy the animation in your face. In Kindermusik, our babies and mommies enjoy activities such as Peek-a-boo, infant massage, nursery rhymes, and lullabies. It's a special time of bonding and laying the earliest foundation for learning with your new little one.
I plan to begin discussing more about what to expect at each phase of development with your little ones. If you have questions that you'd like answered, feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment. I look forward to answering many more of your developmental questions in the coming months.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Music Makes You Smarter

I received the following piece from and thought it had some really interesting facts about the benefit of music study. Enjoy! Music Makes You Smarter Infographic

Friday, August 03, 2012

Light up their world!

There are lots of great activities for children to choose from these days. There are various team sports, individual sports, such as gymnastics or swimming, and art classes available for families in most any size town. However, I can think of no other activity that stimulates your child's overall development as much as music. In fact, I read a study today that said just listening to music stimulated the whole brain! When young children are consistently engaged in age-appropriate musical activities they:

  • develop social skills and self-confidence that will benefit them throughout their life.
  • increase their gross and fine motor skills through movement and instrument exploration.
  • gain better phonological awareness for language learning and reading skills.
  • boost creativity as they explore new sounds and rhythms.
  • build stronger reasoning skills which will benefit their math and science understanding.
You can learn more about music and your child's development at the Kindermusik website. Classes are now enrolling. Enroll today and light up your child's mind!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do NOT read this!

The title likely sparked your curiosity to see what was so forbidden, or your rebellious side simply took over. :) As a parent, we have the power to use our words to influence our children's decisions. Let me give you an example. Do not picture a DOG in your mind. DOGS are strictly forbidden. If you think about a DOG, you are going to get in trouble! How many of you thought about a dog? You can't help it. Our minds simply work that way.

"Don't" is an abstract concept. It's not as concrete in our minds as an action or object would be. Your young child lacks the reasoning ability that we have as adults. When we say something like, "Do not throw that!", your child's mind focuses mainly on the action part of the command. Instead you could try saying, "Put that in my hand." or "Hold on tight to it." I'm not saying this works like magic every time. You have to take into consideration that we all have a will, and sometimes we just don't want to do what we're supposed to do. A positive approach to parenting does not replace the need for discipline or consequences in the case of willful disobedience. It's important to always be consistent.

This approach to changing behavior requires some forethought. You may even want to take some time to right down a few ideas. Think about some of the more frequent infractions you are having trouble with. List what you would have liked to happen. Be creative and remember to keep your child emotionally engaged in the learning experience. If you come up with any great ones you would like to share, I hope you will post them as a comment below. Until next time, good luck in this adventure they call parenthood!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Patience has its own rewards.

I've been teaching him for over a year now. I greet him at the door each week before class, but he only hides and looks away with uncertainty in his eyes. Sometimes I catch him watching me, when he thinks I'm not looking. I smile, and again he looks away. I know he's happy to be in Kindermusik. His face usually beams while he plays the instruments with his mom and dad. However he struggles to branch out and interact with anyone except his parents, so we continue our delicate dance around each other each week. Sometimes I wonder if I am dancing with the "elephant in the room", but all of that changed this week.
When I greeted him at the door, I caught a subtle smile before he looked away. It played at the corner of his mouth with a hint of impishness and was gone as quickly as it appeared. I saw it several more times, even if only briefly, throughout the class. While listening to the story time, he pointed in answer to a question I asked him. This was something completely new, and I was thrilled that he was finally getting comfortable enough in his social skills to participate on this level. Then the unexpected happened. We were about to close the class with a goodbye song, and he walked right up to me, looked me in the eye, and spoke. Not only spoke, but he took my hand to show me more about the question that he had. I tried to remain cool and calm as we walked together hand in hand. I wanted to appear as though this was totally expected, but inside I was trying to absorb this unexpected turn of events- to savor everything about this moment. It's the little victories that make teaching so rewarding to me. It's a joy to witness a child reaching out to accomplish something that I know was a true challenge for them. Those moments are often few and far between, and there is a fine line between challenging that growth without pushing so hard that you crush their desire to achieve it. 

I guess it's true after all. Patience does have its own rewards.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Again! Again!

Have you ever wondered why a child will ask you to read the same book over and over or perhaps never tires of rolling the ball back and forth? A newly published study may shed some light on this learning technique of young children. Nicknamed the "Goldilocks effect", the study examines the attention span of infants in relation to the complexity of the world around them. The results showed that infants focus only on situations that are neither too difficult nor too easy.

"The study suggests that babies are not only attracted by what is happening, but they are able to predict what happens next based on what they have already observed," says Kidd, lead author on the report. "They are not passive sponges. They are active information seekers looking for the best information they can find." Children who are engaged in a sensory rich learning experience are best equipped to receive and retain new information. The repetition of a fun activity likely yields new information each time for your child and provides an opportunity for them to test their predictions based on their latest observations.  "Parents don't need to buy fancy toys to help their children learn. They make the best use of their environment. They are going to look around for what fits their attention level. Kids learn best from social interaction," reminds Kidd.

I hope your family can enjoy some fun, social interaction in a Kindermusik class this summer! Click here for a free preview coupon.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Feeling like a Failure

This post is originally from Studio 3 Music's blog. As a fellow mom to homeschooled children and teacher, Analiisa's post met me right where I needed it, and I thought a few of you might be there too.

Yesterday, I felt like a complete, utter, failure. I’ve got a sensory child, and I’m also a home schooling mom of three. People often ask me how I do it, and to be perfectly honest, sometimes I wonder, too. Most days, I look (at least I think I do – please don’t crush my delusion) put together on the outside, but like teachers everywhere, there are days when we go, “Did they actually learn anything?”

Back several months. Rob had just finished vision therapy, which for us, was the missing piece of our sensory journey. We’d already done occupational therapy, physical therapy, water therapy, seen a sensory motor specialist, and finished speech therapy. At this point, you can meet Rob and you wouldn’t know he’s a sensory kid. I thought the rest of this schooling year would sort of be an all-come-together year. So much for my plan.

Yesterday, I was doing Singapore Math with Rob. And suddenly, he looked at me and said, “I don’t remember how to divide.” Three weeks ago his violin playing took a huge leap backward. His biggest complaint was that (and I quote), “I can’t keep all the information straight in my head.” I’m having lots of trouble getting punctuation rules to stick in his brain, too.

I’ve noticed over the last couple of months that all he wants to do is PLAY. With his friends. And read. For hours. This from the kid who a year ago couldn’t read for more than 15 minutes without his eyes getting tired. That doesn’t mean, of course, that he doesn’t do school. He does. He likes grammar and history and anatomy and physiology especially. But yesterday, I kept thinking, “How could we get this far and do division all the time, and suddenly, you can’t do it?” It seemed to appear so out of the blue, that I thought that perhaps I just had my head in the clouds and wasn’t paying attention and finally noticed what was going on. Where had I missed the signs?

So I emailed Jesikah, who used to be my assistant, and now bears the more lofty title of Director of Operations. She’s my email therapist, sometimes, too. (She’s also the mother of Rob’s best friends.)
I wrote –
He’s so struggled in some areas at school this year – it’s not a cognitive thing. His brain has just had difficulty processing all the information now flowing in (thanks to vision therapy). However, I feel like I’ve failed him somehow this year. We haven’t accomplished as much as we’ve needed to.

And then I got back the most amazing response –
The Montessori teacher told me recently that some years the children really pour themselves into academics, and some years their social/emotional development needs are so much that it is a distraction against academics and not much is accomplished there…but social/emotional needs are more important than academics – it is what makes us good husbands/wives, parents, friends, siblings, good students and even employees… At the end of one’s life, we always want to be better spouses, better parents, better friends…we never regret that we weren’t as academic as we could have been. Children have a knack for catching up academically, too.

You have not failed Rob. Perhaps, this is a growing year for him socially/emotionally, which is why school is so hard for him. Those other needs are more important at the moment, even if he is incapable of expressing those sentiments.

Thank you, Jesikah. The fact that as a fourth grader, Rob’s brain has felt the need to do something else for his development (rather than what I want it to do), is perfectly okay. So we’ll do a little math this summer, and practice writing a few friendly letters.
-posted by Miss Analiisa, who wants to tell discouraged parents and teachers everywhere that it’ll be okay. Because it will. Even if you have to pull out of the violin recital at the last minute.There will be another one.

Be Encouraged!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Meet me in Kindermusik!

I was sitting in traffic the other day, and I began to think about the car in front of me at the light. She was a single mom with two daughters. One daughter attended Randall Middle School . She enjoyed yoga and long distance running, and she lived in Fish Hawk Ranch. I knew all of this not from personal knowledge, but simply by reading all of the magnets and stickers on the back of her car. We are definitely a society that likes to connect with others through labels and interests. How else do you account for the massive success of websites like Pinterest, Meetup, and the like?
Connecting with those around us and feeling a part of something are important to your little ones as well. In fact, the Institute for Early Childhood Education and Research states, "a body of research has been building to suggest that there is a strong link between young children's socioemotional competence and their chances of early school success (Raver, 2002). In fact, studies demonstrated that social emotional knowledge has a critical role in improving children's academic performance and life long learning (Zins, Bloodworth, Weissberg, & Walberg, 2004)." As a parent, I tend to focus on activities that I believe will enhance academic success for my children. It's nice to be reminded that having fun in a group setting is important for their academic success as well! What kind of social activities have you enjoyed lately with your children? We are now enrolling in our Kindermusik classes! Click here for a free preview pass.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What's in store for today?

Familiarity... It's such a simple thing, and yet knowing what to expect can bring such a sense of security and comfort. If you look at your daily routine, and you'll find there is usually a sequence that your day follows. Now picture someone coming in and messing with that routine. You have to come in to work 2 hours earlier tomorrow morning. Your job responsibilities change, but no one can tell you exactly what is expected of you. You go to the grocery store, and they have changed all the aisles around. I'm guessing you would feel pretty frustrated by the end of the day. Now picture that same frustration in the body of a young child.
Children like to know what to expect and thrive on routine. If you think about it, a young child has very little control over what happens to him throughout the day. They depend on us to feed and bath them. We are responsible to put them to bed and ensure their daily care. If you don't have an established routine in your home, it may leave your young child just as frustrated and out of control as you would have felt in the above scenario. Familiarity brings a level of comfort and security that allows your child to freely explore their world and comfortably transition from one activity to the next. It also benefits your child as he learns more about sequencing. Here are a few ideas to help with your routine.
  • Sing a song when it's time to change activities. You can use a favorite song or even make one up for bath time, dinner time, or a favorite lullaby for bed time.
  • Use a picture chart to map out what to expect each day. As each item is finished, remove it from the chart using tape or velcro. You can find some free pictures here.
  • Use sequencing activities and songs, such as "B-I-N-G-O", to strengthen the "what comes next" concept for your little one.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

I heard that!

Recently on our Facebook page, we focused on the parenting topic of multi-sensory learning. Using all of the senses for learning helps your child to better retain the information gained from the experience. It requires active participation in the learning process and engages the whole child. There are lots of great ways to use this approach to enhance listening skills with your children. This vital skill helps your child develop social skills such as conversational skills, new vocabulary or proper word pronounciation, or listening to directions in a classroom setting. Music has been found to greatly enhance listening skills in young children. Try a few of these ideas out at home!

  • Go on a sound hunt with your child. As you "spy" different sounds, see if your child can identify the sound and mimic it.
  • Sing silly songs with your child and encourage them to make up new silly words that would rhyme. 
  • Leave out a word or phrase in a familiar song and enocurage your child to fill in the blanks as they sing along.
  • Encourage your baby to listen by allowing him to watch your face when talking to him. Sing simple songs and mimic his sounds if he tries to "sing" back to you.
  • Sing echo songs together. You can even make them up as you go along.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Simply "Be"!

I love the simplicity and freedom that children enjoy. They live each moment without a thought or concern of what the next moment will bring. We could learn a thing or two from that. We get so consumed with the details of our daily responsibilities and time constraints, that we forget to simply enjoy being in the moment with our children. Think you've mastered this skill? Take this quick test, and find out.
  1. You are leaving for a quick trip to the grocery store, and your toddler begins to insist on buckling her seat belt herself. You...
A. tell her you don't have time today. She can try next time. 
B. give her a couple of seconds to try on her own, before buckling it for her
C. wait as long as it takes for her to finish and celebrate the accomplishment.

    2.  You are surfing the net, and your 7 year old comes up to ask you a question. You...

A. ask him to come back later.
B. quickly answer the question without looking up.
C. stop what your doing, look into your child's eyes while listening, and then answer him.

    3.  You pick up your child from school, and just as she begins to tell you about her day, your cell phone rings. It's a friend that hasn't called you in a while. You...

A. answer the phone.
B. say "excuse me a moment" to your child and then answer the phone.
C. hit the silence button on the phone, so that you can better hear your child.

    4. You take your child to a library story time or other enrichment program where your friend also attends. You...

A. spend the whole time talking with your friend while your child plays with the other children.
B. interact with your child when you see they need assistance participating properly.
C. and your friend focus on enjoying each activity with your children together.

How did you do? If you chose 3-4 "C" answers, you are likely making the most of every opportunity to enjoy your children as they grow! If you had only 2 "C" answers, don't sweat it. There simply may be some times in your day that you need to re-focus. If you had 0-1 "C" answers, I challenge you to watch your child today and remind yourself how to live in the moment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sibling Rivalry

As a home school family, I spend a great deal of time around my children. We have a great time learning together, but, like any other family, we also have days where disputes arise. I have come to learn that no matter where you're from or how you raise your children, the fact of the matter is that sibling rivalry is sure to raise its surly head! Conflict resolution is an important skill that children need to learn to succeed in life. However, it's easy to feel frustrated when your working though this with your children because you don't want to appear to be "taking sides". Here are a few pointers I picked up from the James Dobson book, The New Strong-Willed Child.

  • Don't inflame the natural jealousy that your children feel by comparing them to each other.
  • Establish a workable system of justice at home. In other words, you should have reasonable rules that protect each family member an ensure their fair treatment, then consistently enforce those rules.
  • Recognize that the hidden "target" of sibling rivalry is you! The bickering may be an attempt to capture more attention.
I hope it will help smooth the rough edges in your household as your children grow and learn how to successfully work with those around them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Of horses, children, and all things teachable

Recently, I took my daughters on a field trip to Forever Florida to learn more about Florida's cattle history and horsemanship. While there, we participated in a horse training session. During the session, positive behavior was reinforced with a treat or verbal praise, and negative behavior was redirected. Within about 15 minutes we had trained one horse to yawn on command and another to roll a ball back to you. I was intrigued because I use this same technique in my Kindermusik classroom each week! Positive reinforcement can start with a small treat or verbal praise each time the desired outcome is achieved. The rewards will then begin to decrease as the new habit begins to form. There are a number of reasons that positive reinforcements works.
  • It supports what the child is doing right instead of focusing on what the child is doing wrong.
  • It increases the odds that your child will behave in that manner again.
  • It encourages your child's positive choices when you "catch them being good".
Positive reinforcement is nothing new to parents, but we often get so busy that we miss the opportunity. If we're not careful, we may only notice when the behavior has become undesirable. When that happens, it's important to redirect your child back to the original goal and reinforce the appropriate behavior once it occurs. I'm sure they will be galloping to success in no time flat! ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You might be a home schooler...

As I walked through my home the other day, I noticed a quilt thrown in a pile on the floor of my music room. With a sigh and a mumble of "wishing people would just learn to put things away", I reached to fold it up. I stopped, however, as I realized that there was something more going on with that quilt. It had become a classroom. A crack along the edge of the quilt was allowing in just enough light for a 4th grade reading class to exist beneath its quiet shroud. As a home school family, this behavior is not that unusual for us. However, I venture to say that most of you don't realize that you are home schoolers too!

Webster's dictionary defines a classroom as "a place where classes meet". To many this looks like a room with 4 walls, desks, and children seated in neat and tidy rows, but I believe a classroom is better defined as "a place where learning occurs".  Realistically, learning can take place anywhere at anytime. You might learn about math or nutrition on a trip to the grocery store. Little ones learn phonics and other pre-reading skills simply by singing silly songs with you in the car. Maybe you've even found yourself explaining the concepts of momentum and physics while playing ball with your children. (although you might not have used the technical jargon! LOL)

The point I'm trying to make here is that just because your child is enrolled at a traditional school or is too young to go to school yet, YOU are always going to be your child's most important teacher. It doesn't matter what your educational background is like. No one knows your child better than you do. No one has the vested interest that you have to ensure your child's success in life. Teachers can have an amazing impact on their students. It's one of the reasons I love my job as a Kindermusik teacher so much, but I truly believe some of the most important skills your child will ever learn will come from you as you guide them through everyday life. So embrace your "homeschooliness" and enjoy learning with your children each day!