By Abbey Nash, Everyday with Lulu and Goose
What do egg shakers, scarves and monkeys have in common? Music class, of course! My Bunch has been attending music class for over three years now, beginning when my oldest was only four-months old. Not only do my girls love singing, dancing and pretending to buzz like bees and jump like monkeys, but I revel in the special opportunity for bonding time that music class provides.
You can imagine how happy I was to learn that these early experiences with music are more than just one hour a week of guaranteed entertainment for my bunch, (and quite frankly, that alone makes the classes worthwhile). In fact, according to research I conducted for a recent freelance article, early childhood music classes can benefit tots both academically and socially.
In music class, my Bunch works together with their peers to lift and lower a gigantic parachute, takes turns jumping on the trampoline to experience the feeling of a steady beat, and practices rhythm and tempo while seated with their entire class around a giant drum. And with all the fun they’re having, they have no idea that they’re learning how to behave in a structured setting and function cooperatively in a group environment.
Not only does music class provide a foundation for healthy social interaction, but it can also encourage the development of communication skills. In addition to teaching preschoolers creative ways to express their thoughts and feelings, internalizing rhythm and tone at an early age can help tots recognize emotion in spoken language later on.
One of the most exciting things about music education is its link to future academic success. Early experiences with music can impact the development of a child’s ability in math, and even reading.
I know what you’re thinking--that’s a lot to expect from a couple of drumsticks and a colorful scarf or two. But studies link music education to an increase in spatial intelligence. This is the type of thought process that we use when we solve a math problem, play a board game or read a piece of music. Experts believe that music forms strong connections in the brain, and that these are the same connections used in cognitive tasks such as critical thinking, problem solving and mathematics.
Choosing an Early Childhood Music Program
Your Bunch can benefit from early experiences with music through any type or style of instruction. It’s a good idea to visit multiple programs in order to find a good fit for your family. And as you do, here are a few things to keep in mind:
--Make sure that the teacher is musically inclined. This may sound obvious, but with various franchising opportunities available for nationally known early childhood music programs, it’s important to make sure that the music teacher has not only earned the appropriate certificate in early music education, but also has the kind of innate music ability that can’t be taught in a certification program.
--Make sure that the teacher can manage the class. It’s important to have a teacher who’s fun and exciting, but chatty parents or rambunctious kids can distract from the experience of music class. The teacher you choose should be able to keep the group engaged, and uphold classroom expectations.
--Pay attention to the size of the class. There should be enough kids for opportunities for social interaction, but not so many that the group becomes chaotic. Ten is a good number to look for; anything over fifteen is probably too many.
As you look for an early childhood music class, keep in mind that many national programs offer classes tailored to fit the needs of baby bunchers! Family or mixed age classes usually offer music experiences for parents with a preschool aged child and one or more younger siblings. To find this kind of program in your area, check out the links below:
Abbey's a stay-at-home mom to two girls who are 4 and 2 years old.