Glen is a long term TPK dad and grandad. Both of his boys attended preschool here back in the early 2000’s. Now, he has the privilege again of sending his granddaughter to TPK. Music is a large part of his life that he is excited to share with all of you!
Music is a powerful tool to add to your preschool and kindergarten parenting toolbox. I hope this blog will inspire you to add music to your play time, car time, and all the time with your children.
When people ask me “Who are you?”, I will often provide a list – I am a follower of Jesus, husband, father, grandfather, engineer, and musician. Okay, I’ll admit that last claim is shaky. On the one hand, I will most likely never play a professional gig. On the other hand, I always carry guitar picks with me in case I run across a lonely guitar begging to be played. In the end, I love music. And I’m in good company – God loves music, too. He has given us over 150 songs in the Bible (called Psalms) – songs of praise and songs of sadness. He shows us a love song in Song of Solomon, and the Bible is filled with songs sung by some of its greatest characters – Moses (in Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 32), David (in 2 Samuel 22), and Mary (in Luke 1). Throughout His word, God urges us to praise Him with music, to make a joyful noise. God loves music.
You probably already know that children love music as well. I have led preschool worship for almost 20 years, and I can’t imagine a more enthusiastic group of participants. Three- to five-year-olds are the best audience! They are excited to sing loudly, eager to learn new songs, especially if the songs are filled with motions, and enthusiastic to repeat songs over and over. You can use this enthusiasm to help teach your children and to help them grow and develop. During my 20 years of preschool ministry, I have used music to teach complex Bible passages that are difficult even for adults. For example, every one of the preschoolers I sing with knows the fruits of the Spirit (“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians, 5:22-23). I teach them with a cute song – you can find one version at https://youtu.be/DFumjSll68s (sorry about the ads). I also teach the books of the Old and New Testaments using songs. When a friend and I were leading worship at AWANA, we helped the boys and girls learn their memory verses by incorporating them into songs. We would take a familiar tune and write the Bible verse into the song. The teachers at TPK do the same thing. One of the best examples is how the 4 year-olds learn the characteristics of an insect (sung to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes):
Head, thorax, abdomen (abdomen); Head, thorax, abdomen (abdomen); Six legs, antennae, and sometimes wings; Head, thorax, abdomen (abdomen).
When children learn concepts, Bible verses, lists, and other items through song, these memorized items seem to remain with them for a long time. As I teach middle schoolers on Sunday, I can still see them going through the books of the Bible songs when we do Bible drills. The list of Bible books is imprinted on their brain and it provides a ready reference for them, even 10 years later.
So why does music make such a big difference? I wasn’t sure (since I’m only a musician and not a Music Therapist or a Neurologist) so I looked up some great references (you can read them too; they are in the end notes). These experts provide lots of insight on how music impacts the preschooler. Some of these impacts are listed below:
- Music helps form brain connections that will last a lifetime. Katie Christiansen of Preschool Inspirations[i] states that music supports neuroplasticity – forming the connections that will be the foundation for speech, language, cognitive skills, and motor skills. Because music activates both sides of the brain, a child who is singing is learning, practicing new skills, and internalizing new information.
- The National Association for Music Education[ii] lists 20 benefits of music in education. According to the association, music:
- Helps develop language and reasoning
- Assists in the mastery of memorization
- Enables children to learn pattern recognition
- Builds imagination and intellectual curiosity
- Develops creative thinking
- Enhances emotional development
- According to the Bright Horizons Educational Team[iii], music accelerates brain development, especially in the areas of language and reading. I found this statement to be especially compelling: “Music ignites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness, including intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. It helps the body and mind work together.”
So what can parents and grandparents do?
- Look for fun children’s songs on YouTube. Try Dr. Jean or Raffi. Ask your child’s teachers for good children’s music, or ask the children’s minister at your church.
- Find out what your child is learning in school and create music that works with the lesson. You can find songs on most subjects on YouTube or your teacher might have a song or two stored away.
- Put your child’s Bible verse to music – they will learn it a lot more quickly,
- Encourage your child to sing, play an instrument, or just make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Singing is pretty natural to a preschooler, and they will sing loudly and proudly.
- Sing songs with your preschooler – especially songs with movements. I teach Jesus Loves Me in sign language – great fine motor skills development, language development, sense of accomplishment, etc. Movements like hopping on one foot and walking backwards help develop gross motor skills.
- Play music in the car and sing with your child.
The bottom line is: Have fun – soon, you’ll love music as much as I do because it is a great thing to share with your child!
[i] Katie T. Christiansen, How Music Makes Kids Smarter, preschoolinspirations.com
[ii] National Association for Music Education, 20 Important Benefits of Music in Our Schools, nafme.org
[iii] Bright Horizons Educational Team, Children and Music: Benefits of Music is Child Development, brighthorizons.org