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Ten Ways to Help Kids Become Enthusiastic Learners through Music
Patricia Shih

Make learning fun by using music! Since music is such a heart- and mind-opener, it has been proven that learning is actually facilitated by it. Early childhood educators know this as evidenced by the burgeoning Mommy and Me, Music Together, Musikgarten and other like programs for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Children learn best by doing, so in addition to having them experience the arts, have them participate.

  1. Sing The Lessons! How did we all learn our ABC’s? By singing them! Lessons are easier to learn when music is the vehicle. When learning lists (planets, times tables, dates, etc.) make up a catchy melody and sing it. For some reason, it’s easier to learn lyrics than a list. Children naturally love rhythm and melody, so parents and teachers can help them joyfully open their hearts and minds by using songs.

  2. Enhance Listening Skills By….Really Listening! Use all kinds of music to illustrate soft, loud, fast, slow, percussion, brass, strings, alliteration, rhyme, tonal qualities, etc. What about the spaces between notes? What are the lyrics saying?

  3. Use Movement To Improve Motor Skills. Marking the rhythm and beat, use percussion instruments or just faces, hands, fingers, legs or bodies to jump, clap, stomp, tiptoe, sit still. Play musical games like “Islands”, “London Bridge,” “Tony Chestnut,” and “The Hokie Pokie.” There are a gazillion of them out there! Use a wide variety of attractive, colorful and enticing percussion instruments. As children grow older, let them experiment with playing more delicate instruments like violins and harps that require fine motor skills. Dance!

  4. Use Songs To Improve Spoken Language Skills. Work out and write rhymes, even silly nonsense ones. Write a song, paying attention to meter and scanning, line length, syllable sounds. What is the similarity between singing pitches and speaking?

  5. Learn A New Language. Research, sing and write songs in a different language. Learn and use sign language to interpret songs you already know. Listen to and learn songs from many different countries—are there words that sound the same? How are other languages structured differently than ours?

  6. Improve Reading And Writing Skills. Some songs teach letter sounds and spelling. Use these to enhance poetry and short story writing. How can we choose words that are more precise to the meaning we want? Choose or write songs that tell a story, paying attention to character, beginning, middle and end. Identify a problem and solve it in song.

  7. Use Music For Directions. Make up little songs to sing when putting toys away, washing hands, riding in a car, brushing teeth. Even going to the doctor! Music sometimes can make a trying situation more palatable through calming, understanding and focusing or distracting.

  8. Use Music To Teach Social Skills. There are many wonderful songs extolling the virtues of sharing, peaceful resolution to conflict, cooperation and much more. Some songs teach tolerance and understanding of people with different abilities; some teach caring for our environment. Children can internalize the positive messages of these songs as they sing or hear them, just as they can internalize negative messages in music. Make sure the songs you expose children to are what you want them to learn. Scrutinize lyrics—never take it for granted that “children’s music” all have positive lyrics!

  9. Broaden Horizons. Listen to all kinds of music—jazz, opera, pop, country, classical, and most especially world. We learn a lot about a country’s culture and values by listening to their music. Developing a love for a country’s music can spur curiosity, spark a love of travel, and teach tolerance for differences. Develop a deep and wide library of CDs that children can choose from.

  10. Do Related Activities. If you are listening to a story-song, make a picture book using magazine pictures or draw them yourself to illustrate the song. For a values-based song, have children write and act out a skit about what the song is highlighting. When studying a particular topic, research songs about that topic and make big posters of the lyrics and place around the room. Songwriters have a knack for condensing “big ideas” into 3 minutes and a few verses!

There are many ways adults can use music to help children learn and grow with joy. Have fun exploring, using this most magical of tools!

Many thanks to Patricia Shih for permission to display this article.

Please Click Here to view Patricia Shih's Music Products.



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