Must We Sing and Dance?
In today’s academic world riddled by standardized testing and accountability, administrators and teachers sense there is no time to sing or use movement during the school day. It tends to look like we are “just playing” when we should be learning. When teaching our youngest learners, this could not be any farther from the truth. Having fun is not only beneficial academically but emotionally and physically as well.
Brain Development Research is on Our Side!
Within the last twenty years, brain development research has given credibility to our profession as Early Childhood Educators. We no longer have to “gut-teach” (teaching intuitively), which was the way we taught because it “seemed” to work or because it “felt” right. We now have the advantage of all the exciting new information which allows us to truly understand the meaning of “developmentally appropriate”. Therefore, we are empowered to offer children the best possible strategies for learning new information.
Play is the Most Vital Element in any Early Childhood Program
According to developmentally appropriate practices, play is the most vital element of any early childhood curriculum. Through play, children develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Music and movement are interrelated with play. Consequently, they are essential to a child’s development.
One of the best ways to incorporate music into the early childhood classroom is to relate it to other areas of the curriculum (Spodek & Saracho). Dodge and Colker agree that children’s exposure to music can have an impact on three key aspects of development. These three aspects are cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development. Music also allows teachers to cultivate the emotional development of their students.
Songs and chants can make transitions engaging so that children pay attention. They teach children what, when and how to do something. Songs can also introduce new skills and concepts.
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Music helps children hear rhyme and since music has a rhythm, they learn to hear patterns created by the beats (or syllables) in words. This builds early-stage literacy. Add movement with the songs and you are adding the kinetic modality to language acquisition. Every time we use a movement for words and phrases, you are adding to their knowledge about language.
According to Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, the more senses we use in the learning process, the faster we learn the information and the more information we retain. Use finger plays, chants, and songs!
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