Kindermusik is the world's leading music & movement program for children newborn to 7 and is enjoyed by millions of families around the world. They strive to provide a musical and learning-rich environment for children, help develop the bond between the parent and child, and support their amazing network of Kindermusik educators. Follow this blog for music reviews, parenting tips, early..
When you think back on the summers of your childhood, you might have special memories of things you anticipated all through the long school year. Freedom! Sunshine! Swimming! Sleeping in!
Prominent among summer rituals are opportunities to enjoy outdoor dining. Backyard barbecues, family reunions, county and state fairs, hot dogs at the baseball park, ice cream trucks, lemonade stands, sandwiches by the pool…the list is extensive! But the classic summer feast might just be a perfectly planned picnic. Here are some tips to take your next summer picnic up a notch.
The most essential component of any good picnic is, of course, the food. When planning your menu, it’s important to remember the fact that it’s most likely HOT outside. Do you really want to haul heavy coolers filled with ice? Probably not! Besides, once the food comes out of the cooler and into the scalding sunshine…well, that’s where the trouble begins. Hot weather has an unfavorable impact on more foods than you might think. And mayonnaise, notorious for its very limited shelf life, lurks in many would-be picnic favorites, like potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad, and deviled eggs.
The good news is that there are lots of healthy options that don’t require refrigeration. Instead of potato salad, how about a pasta salad made with crispy fresh vegetables, olive oil, and savory seasonings? Rather than contend with a soggy and wilting leafy salad, take advantage of the beautiful fruits that are so abundant in the summer months and pack those instead. Need more inspiration? Here are ten ideas for delicious picnic foods that hold up well in warm weather.
Location, Location, Location
The location of a summer picnic can make the event a real pleasure—or a real disaster. Remember that shelter is a prime consideration. You’ll want a spot that can provide both shade and cover from an unexpected rain shower. Choose an area with a nearby public pavilion, covered patio, or deck, or bring along a portable shelter you can set up yourself, like a beach umbrella. You’ll also want bathroom facilities nearby, especially if you’re picnicking with kids.
Speaking of kids, be sure to give them plenty of fun and active things to do…a playground or swimming option at the location, some sports equipment you bring along…whatever keeps them busy, safe, and happy will ensure picnic success and a fun and relaxing time for all!
At Kindermusik, we think a requirement for a fun picnic (and for almost any occasion!) is some great music. Everything’s more fun when dancing and singing are on the agenda. You could even bring some instruments or home-made noisemakers and have yourselves a fun parade!
And if your perfect picnic happens to feature the #1 picnic pest (ANTS!), we’ve got a song for you. It’s a classic; we’re sure you will recognize it. Sing or play it at your next picnic to encourage those ants to go marching down into the ground and away from your spread!
In the not too distant future looms an important day. It’s almost time for your child to walk through the doors of Kindergarten as a student! Gulp. Take deep breaths. You’re an adult…you can handle this! Let’s focus instead on your child.
It’s About Mindset
The ultimate goal is that Kindergarten is a great experience for your child. An essential component of that is having a positive attitude regarding Kindergarten—one that rubs off easily on your son or daughter. That is best cultivated by maintaining a sunny outlook, being sure to take your child to visit the Kindergarten class and meet the teacher in advance of the first day, getting your child used to following routines, and other practical measures.
It’s About the Whole Child
But another essential component is doing your best to be sure your child has skills that set him or her up for success.
Remember the deep breathing strategy mentioned above? Try that now. Then read on…carefully.
Here’s the truth. Early Kindergarten success is not so much about reading and math readiness, alphabetical and counting skills. It is about the key characteristics Kindergarten teachers wish every child displayed:
Expressing feelings in healthy ways.
Understanding and readily following directions.
Taking turns and sharing when playing with other children.
Practicing self-regulation (by delaying gratification, by stopping an action on demand, by adjusting voice volume to situations, by sitting still in order to pay attention).
Showing an interest in learning.
It’s About Providing the Right Experiences
So how do children get the skills Kindergarten teachers crave for them to have? It’s all about the experiences you provide.
Some of those experiences occur at home. You can give your child developmentally appropriate chores to do and routines to follow … and discuss how well your expectations are being met. You can ask your child to help you complete tasks, expressing your appreciation (and showing patience when small things might take longer to accomplish!). You can talk regularly to your child about how he or she feels. Show your appreciation about those feelings, modeling how to express them in calm ways. You can show your own joy at learning opportunities—whether it’s reading a book, cooking a new kind of food, or trying a new craft together. That joy is contagious.
For other experiences, go outside the home. Seek play opportunities with other children the age of your child. Find public library, museum, and recreational park activities to participate in. Join classes that focus on the well-being of the whole child.
Kindermusik classes, for example—that begin for babies and their parents and carry on through age 7—have all of the key skills for children baked into their lessons. Kindermusik music and movement classes offer natural ways to: reinforce self-regulation skills, highlight healthy expression of feelings, provide interactions with other children and parents, and set expectations for children to follow directions. For these reasons, many Kindermusik educators hear from elementary school teachers how appreciative they are when Kindermusik children enter their classrooms.
So, stop stressing in anticipation of the day you will try not to cry when saying goodbye to your Kindergartner. Focus on how well that day will go for your son or daughter!
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
O, and then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer’s Queen.
It’s May! Yay!
Seventeenth century poet Thomas Dekker was clearly quite enthusiastic about the month of May—and he’s not alone. After all, May brings with it warmer weather and the perfumed air and new growth of spring. Everything seems new, fresh, and as Dekker noted, “so green, so green, so green!” Even the month’s name is a nod to Maia, an ancient Roman goddess of spring.
Now that May has arrived, there’s the feeling that summer is really, finally coming. Bachelor and bachelorette parties abound as June weddings approach. Graduation plans take center stage for people of all ages…from preschoolers moving on to Kindergarten, to high school seniors moving on to college, to college seniors moving on to—well, hopefully—life! It’s a natural time for celebration.
May kicks off with May Day, a springtime festival with ancient origins that traditionally involves gathering wildflowers, weaving garlands, singing, and dancing around a Maypole. Less than a week later, on May 5th, there’s another reason to party: Cinco de Mayo. The holiday, which commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War, is barely observed in most of Mexico, but has has taken off in the U.S. as a massive celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.
May is also the month in which we celebrate two groups of people who are extra special to us at Kindermusik: teachers and moms. Teacher Appreciation Week is the first week of the month, and the second Sunday in May is Mother’s Day. As a company focused on strengthening, nurturing, and developing the minds and hearts of young children, we work hand-in-hand with teachers and parents every single day, and boy do we appreciate them. Still, it’s nice to have time set aside on the calendar when we can salute them and acknowledge their hard work.
Time To Party
This month gives us so many opportunities to celebrate, and nothing helps celebration more than some good music. We propose singing and dancing your way through May as much as you can. And what better way to revel in the new promise of spring than with a new beginning of your own? Drop into a Kindermusik class, where there’s always something new to learn and explore. There are songs to sing, dances to dance, and instruments to learn how to play. There is music and joy everywhere, and so many reasons to celebrate.
Here’s a song to get you started: “It’s Time To Celebrate”
We all know people who face challenges and have special needs. At some point, most of us face our own hurdles physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, relationally. Babies and toddlers, young children and teenagers, adults and retirees… Struggles are a part of the human condition and occur across all ages. Sometimes the struggles are temporary; other times they are a permanent part of life.
Some of us have learning challenges. Some experience social-emotional issues such as anxiety and depression. Some of us are physically challenged.
But ongoing research points to one thing that helpfully cuts across all types of wellness needs. That thing is music.
Music: Helpful Routines
When music is embraced as an essential part of daily life, all types of benefits occur. For example, children with autism can focus better and feel less stressed during “hot button” times, if music is introduced into the scenario. Seniors with dementia might feel calmer when bedtime includes songs they know and love—thereby giving them a night of more restful sleep and a more peaceful day after it.
People of all ages who experience anxiety or sensory overload are able to relax when music with a strong, steady beat is playing in the background. (Know when those stressful times are coming? Put on a song that makes you want to get up and march around, like this one! )
On the other hand, when people feel especially stressed by a noisy environment (or the “noise” going on inside their brains…something we’re all too familiar with!), soothing music without lyrics takes the stress response down a notch. Need to try it now? Here’s an example.
Music + Movement: More Power
At whatever phase in life, people who struggle with learning and retention of information are especially impacted in positive ways when music and movement are combined into pleasurable activities such as dancing. Exactly how does that work? Let’s have a look.
When balance, coordination, and tasks affecting the vestibular system are required, the lower parts of the brain are regulated and balanced. This frees the higher parts of the brain to do what they do best. As a result, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, effective communication, and knowledge acquisition through reading, writing, and math become easier.
These improvements are magnified when it comes to speech and language. That’s because experiencing music—whether listening and moving to it or singing along with it—involves the same brain circuits as speech and language development.
So when someone close to you displays these types of difficulties, put some fun back into life. Play music; get up and move to it. Together, open up your brains to higher functioning as you rock, sway, dance or get your groove on in other ways. The smiles are sure to follow.
Music: Community Matters
Cultures through the ages have enjoyed making music together. It’s no surprise that evidence of musical instruments, venues for musical performance, and traditions centered on music can be found in all civilizations. If someone needs lifting up, music gives us all wings.
Today you can see all types of people at musical festivals and performances. You can see all types of people filling musical classes. For example, at Kindermusik International studios around the world, everyone feels better from the moment a session begins—whether it is the tired parent, the fussy baby, the child who struggles to express himself or to keep herself calm, the dementia patient who is confused and distressed, or the person who longs for more physical mobility.
So join the world musical community yourself today. And bring everyone along for the dance with you! Help the struggles and stresses fade away, one song at a time.
Music has been part of the human experience for millenia. This is not speculation, but fact supported by archaeological evidence. Artifacts such as a flute carved some 35,000 years ago, and ancient art, like Cyclades’ depictions of flute and harp players (2,700 BCE), suggest that that music has been around for as long as we have.
So what’s the draw?
Listening to music, making music, moving to music…these are all pleasurable experiences. Most of us probably don’t need scientific proof of that (although it does exist; pleasure-inducing substances are released in the brain in response to musical input). The many research studies exploring music’s effects simply confirm what we experience firsthand every day. Music can transport us, inspire us, and change our moods; it can calm us or pump us up.
But music is beyond pleasurable. It is therapeutic. Research shows that music can reduce physical or mental pain by up to 50%. Data abounds proving the effectiveness of music therapy across a plethora of areas of human distress.
Dr. Catherine Ulbricht, who espouses a preference for “do no harm” treatments that focus on non-invasive procedures before medication, cites music’s therapeutic effects on mood and anxiety. She points to five conditions that can be definitively helped by music therapy: autism, dementia, depression, infant development, and sleep quality. You can read her succinct study of the research in these areas here.
Where should we start? How about taking a musical stress break!
Perhaps now more than ever, stress invades our culture. It affects all ages. It’s especially heartbreaking…but sadly, also fairly common…to hear children younger than 5 say something like, “I’m so stressed out!” Stress is terrible for us physically, emotionally, and socially. It takes a toll on our bodies, causing headaches, tension, stomach pain, and sleep problems, and it makes us anxious, irritable, angry, and sad. It can cause us to withdraw socially.
But music can be a great antidote for all of this nastiness! It can lift away stress, replacing it with feelings of happiness and calm or a renewed sense of energy.
Want to continue enjoying Kindermusik tunes? Visit our website to find us in your community.
Oh, and that’s one more thing the research shows: Music packs a powerful positive punch for communities. That’s because it positively affects brain pathways that influence empathy, trust, and cooperation—and therefore has an impact on the ability of people to connect with one another. So check out a local Kindermusik studio and share in some community-building singing and dancing, and some mood-boosting music. We’ll all be better for it!
Parents who seek information about what is best to do for their child—parents like you!—are relieved when an idea can be described as definitively true. It’s even better when that idea involves something that is easy and fun for children and caregivers to do together.
That’s what describes this idea coming out of years of study in Australia:
“…[I]nformal encounters with music at home are critical for young children’s development – with benefits above and beyond those of shared reading. And quite beautifully, the best results are seen when music making is a shared experience between parent and child.”
This statement is highlighted in a December 2017 article about the ongoing research efforts of Professor Margaret Barrett of the University of Australia, Queensland. Barrett began receiving grants to study the different effects of various types of musical exposure on young children in 2001. By 2013, she had honed in on a study called “Being and Becoming Musical.” At that point, Professor Graham Welch, Established Chair of Music Education at the University College London’s Institute of Education, joined her and her team. Data drawn from 3,100 families who participated in the study led the team to this conclusion: “shared music-making at the age of 2–3 years correlates positively with increased school readiness, pro-social skills, and literacy and numeracy outcomes at age 4–5.” That’s some powerful evidence in favor of music!
What Do Shared Musical Experiences Look Like?
The research team included many examples of the types of musical activities parents and children did together. Beyond citing the evidence necessary in a research report, this gives parents some great ideas! Here is a sampling:
Parents and children made up simple songs to sing together during routines, such as bath time or mealtime.
Parents put simple tunes to the words they used to describe what they were doing with children while doing those things—whether it was building with blocks, walking in nature, or dressing to go somewhere. So, rather than simply commenting on how good the warm sun feels, parents might sing about it to a familiar tune like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”: Shiny, shiny sun so high, shiny, shiny in the sky. Thanks for warming us today. You make it nice for us to play. Shiny, shiny sun so high, shiny, shiny in the sky.
Parents and children made up movements and danced together while listening to music.
Parents and children figured out how to make instruments like rattles and drums using things around the house, then played them together.
One particularly interesting finding stemmed from the fact that the research team was careful to include parents who ranged from “not at all musical” to “play a musical instrument” in the study. No matter what the parents’ musical background or comfort with making music, the shared musical experiences with their children had positive outcomes.
So don’t let any discomfort you might have get in the way of enjoying musical experiences with your child! Music brings joy. Period.
What Else Was Interesting About the Study?
Dr. Barrett and her team became especially fascinated with the idea that purposeful shared musical experiences had a bonus effect…on the parents! She saw clear signs of something she is calling “musical parenting.” She theorizes that music leads to great opportunities for parent-child bonding. She believes it can help to “foster stronger family relationships.” So stay tuned for more research coming out of the Barrett team providing statistical support for this belief!
Meanwhile, don’t let any time pass before making shared musical experiences as important in your family life as reading aloud hopefully already is. At Kindermusik, we’ve found a way to combine both of those experiences in a series of books called Musical Storytime. Each book features a charming story to read aloud, with a song that perfectly compliments it! Here’s a taste of just one of those fun tunes that you can start singing, moving, and grooving to with your child today.
Even better, seek regular, planned shared musical experiences with your child by attending Kindermusik classes nearby. You’ll have the added benefit of finding a community of other parents and children with the same interests as you!
I’ll leave you now by singing, not saying, “Goodbye!” (Can’t you hear it? Doesn’t it make you smile? Pass that musical smile on!)
Music is often thought of simply as entertainment, but its power as a conjurer of emotions is undeniable. You probably have that song that transports you right back to your first big breakup, or to a special moment from childhood. Certain music makes you want to get up and dance, while other tunes can make you weepy for no obvious reason. Music’s unique ability to influence our emotions makes it a powerful tool to manage feelings and behavior.
For children, especially, music can help instill calm, promote self-regulation and impart joy. This is great news for parents, who are so intimately familiar with how quickly and unpredictably kids can “lose it.” Finding effective strategies to calm and comfort can be a challenge, and music is a good one to have in your arsenal.
Creating Feelings of Safety and Security
Many children struggle with change and transitions. Drop-off at school or Grandma’s house, getting into the car for an outing, abandoning a favorite activity for bathtime…all of these things can be stress triggers. The good news is that building music into transitions can help smooth things out.
Try introducing a favorite song during times of transition to set the mood. Want your child to relax? Play something calm. Does your child need to perk up and get moving? Play something lively! Music can also help define and communicate your expectations, so your child understands what’s about to happen and how he or she should respond. Sing “It’s time to take a bath,” or “It’s time to clean the toys” to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell,” for example. When you choose music that’s familiar, predictable, and used routinely, your child feels calmed by the certainty and familiarity of it all.
Another way to ensure calmer, happier days with your child is to help strengthen his or her self-regulation skills. Children who can self-regulate are able to remain calm and soothe themselves in stressful or frustrating situations, delay gratification, and adjust to unexpected changes. Self-regulated children wait their turn, share easily with others, and listen carefully.
Sounds dreamy, right? Well, if you don’t feel like this perfectly describes your child, you’re not alone. Self-regulation develops gradually, across the years of early childhood, and it is definitely a process. The beginning stages of self-regulation are about impulse control, so the first step is understanding what it feels like to stop yourself from doing something.
That’s where musical “stop-and-go” activities can help. Remember playing “Freeze Dance” as a kid? Everyone dances to music and then freezes in place when the music stops. Try this with your child. Sing or play music and let loose dancing together! Then stop the music abruptly to challenge your child to control the impulse to continue moving. In the ensuing silence, your child can literally feelthemselves stop; they can feel that they are in control of their actions. This is such a fun and easy way to build important self-regulatory skills. Think about it: In order to play the game effectively, your child needs to focus, listen, and react to aural cues. These are the very things that help children develop attention and control—the building blocks of self-regulation.
Even children who feel safe and secure and show good self-regulatory skills will occasionally have what we lovingly refer to as “meltdowns.” (And don’t we adults have them, too?) Music can be especially effective at easing everyone back into a better state of mind. And there’s a powerful brain theory behind this.
Research has shown that listening to music lowers cortisol levels. Since cortisol is commonly known as the “stress hormone,” it follows that listening to music reduces stress. Scientists have also proven that listening to music increases dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is known as the “motivation molecule” because it leads to the type of feel-good moments you might experience when eating a favorite food or completing a physically satisfying workout. Feeling blue and out of chocolate? Turn on a song for a dose of mood-enhancing dopamine.
So if your child is feeling stressed, frustrated, angry—any of the emotions that might lead to the dreaded meltdown—turn to music. It just might be the cure.
You can look for Kindermusik studios in your area on our website www.kindermusik.com. You might also explore some of our offerings in our online shop. The Case for Music, for example, is a perfect way to start making musical moments a part of your family routines for you and your Baby or Toddler.
As the first big snowstorm of the season rolled into Washington, D.C., so did well over 10,000 people, who came to learn, collaborate, and network at the largest early childhood education conference in the world. Educators, advocates, and other members of the early childhood service community filled the Walter E. Washington Convention Center from November 13-17, 2018, for NAEYC’s2018 Annual Conference.
Among the throng was a small cadre of Kindermusik employee owners, there to spread knowledge about the importance of music and movement in the lives of children. Earlier that week, they had demonstrated their characteristic dedication (and herculean strength!) by loading up an SUV with trade show materials, driving to D.C. from our corporate headquarters in North Carolina, and man-handling a massive pallet of goods onto the expo floor to set up our famously cheerful purple booth. The next four days were busy ones spent attending sessions, manning the booth, and meeting fellow professionals in the field.
Kindermusik Presents to a Full House
For Music Curriculum Designer Deanna Bucci, it was an especially eventful week. Deanna was chosen by conference organizers to lead an hour-and-a-half workshop entitled “The Other 3 R’s: Routine, Rhythm, and Relaxation: Using Music Rituals to Create Calm.” Her session was so full that people had to be turned away, and Kindermusik President and CEO Scott Kinsey could be heard worrying about fire hazards. Those lucky enough to be in attendance were rapt, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Today, we’ll hear from Deanna about how it felt to be the moderator in a (packed!) room of such willing learners.
Q: What do you think made you especially qualified to lead this session?
A: To lead this kind of session, and do it successfully, I think one needs a combination of substantial experience and knowledge on the topic, as well as an understanding of the experience and needs of those in attendance. Over the last 10 years, I’ve collected an array of experiences in education—from working in a daycare and as a substitute teacher, to teaching elementary General Music for 8 years, to leading various professional development workshops and district initiatives for fellow educators…and now being a Kindermusik Educator and curriculum designer! The focus of this session allowed me to combine my knowledge of music education, various early childhood settings, and professional development training to provide educators with valuable techniques and musical resources they could immediately put into practice.
Q: What do you know in your mind and feel in your heart about the importance of music in the life of a child?
A: Music has this incredible power to connect and soothe people. You see it being used in the background of movies, commercials, and even sermons and speeches, because it conveys emotions better than simple words or actions can. Not only do musical experiences literally boost brain chemicals and hormones that make you feel happy (like endorphins and dopamine), but when children experience music in a group they learn how to connect and bond with others. The social and emotional experiences a young child has, even as an infant, affect how their brain develops. In short, my mind and heart tell me that music is extremely important to children because it truly strengthens their minds and hearts!
Q: What did you feel best about during your session?
A: I was so grateful for the level of engagement of the participants throughout the entire session. The room was packed with people, some sitting on the floor between tables and others lining the walls! Despite the crowding, everyone still got up to dance and move around with me. I also admired their willingness to sing and share ideas with other attendees they had never met before. Their engagement and energy made me hopeful that they not only enjoyed themselves, but that they found the activities useful.
Q: You have a gorgeous singing voice. Should people worry that they need a similar level of vocal talent when they sing with their children?
A: Thank you for that sweet compliment! But no, they should not worry. I’ll share with you three statements that I also shared during my session: First, everyone has the ability to sing. Like anything else, the more you practice the skill the better and more confident you will become in using it. Second, you are judging yourself harder than anyone else is—and the children you work with probably think you’re amazing. Third, and most importantly, when you sing with a child, you are adding immeasurable value to that child’s life, so embrace whatever level of ability you have…and just have fun!
Q: What’s the next topic you’d love to talk about with early childhood professionals?
A: Honestly, your last question makes me want to lead a workshop on how to lead music activities as a non-musician! There are so many educators who refrain from singing or making music simply because of a lack of self-confidence or an understanding of how to use music to develop other skills. I would love the opportunity to be a voice of encouragement and support for these educators and help arm them with a simple “bag of musical tricks” that would inspire them to use music daily in their classrooms.
Q: In addition to your curriculum development work, you are also trained and licensed as a Kindermusik educator. Can you tell us about what that means and what makes it special enough that you want to work TWO jobs?
A: I left the public-school setting and became a curriculum designer for Kindermusik International because I wanted to be able to work with and positively influence more educators and families around the world. In order to do this to the best of my ability, I know I must also continue to learn and grow as an educator, and teaching Kindermusik classes provides me the best insight into creating developmentally appropriate Kindermusik products. I am also a music educator at my core and sharing the joy and benefits of music firsthand with children and their families is something that I will always immensely enjoy.
Q: What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a Kindermusik educator and opening a studio?
A: If you’re looking for a rewarding and meaningful career, then do it! What I love most about Kindermusik is that the focus of learning is on whole-child development through music and movement. Our educators are trained in early-childhood development as well as music education, and we seek to educate the families as much as we educate the children. Kindermusik is so much more than just singing, dancing, and playing instruments. It can truly change lives!
To learn more about Kindermusik’s classes and find a class near you, visit kindermusik.com.
Babies are exposed to sounds during pregnancy. At birth, their sense of hearing is completely developed and their brains are programmed to find patterns, making their first year the best time to start exposing babies to music. Kindermusik’s curricula makes it fun and easy to teach music to babies and young children, and has the best educational activities for babies.
Steady beat is the foundation of all music (and language)! Babies first experience steady beat in the womb–listening to their mother’s heartbeat and feeling the rhythm of her steps. Kindermusik activities are carefully designed for a child to experience steady beat using multiple senses:
HEARING IT: Whether singing a capella, reciting a poem or rhyme, playing an instrument or listening to a recording, steady beat is everywhere in a Kindermusik class!
FEELING IT: Children feel the steady beat when a parent taps on the child’s body or bounces their baby to the beat.
SEEING IT: Yes, you can “see” the steady beat when you watch feet dance, see a hand tap a drum or someone clap or march along to the beat.
Having a good sense of steady beat organizes the brain. It’s not only important for music, but also crucial for speaking and language development. Even physical skills use a steady beat, such as walking or using scissors.
To learn more about Kindermusik’s classes and find a class near you, visit kindermusik.com.
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving has already come and gone. (Wait, did you blink and miss Halloween? Us too.) And with barely time to breathe—much less digest all of that food!—Americans have shifted focus from stuffing their turkeys to stuffing their Christmas stockings.
Now that the traditional Black Friday sales extend through Cyber Monday, holiday shopping mania is even more pervasive…and purchasing has become easier than ever. Rather than fight crowds at brick-and-mortar stores, more and more consumers are opting to shop online. The convenience is undeniably appealing; with a couple of clicks of your phone, you can have gifts at your door within the week. This year, Black Friday saw $6.22 billion in online sales, with more than $2 billion of that coming directly from smartphones.
When the dust settles and empty stockings, shredded wrapping paper, and discarded boxes litter the floors of homes across the country, Americans will have spent approximately $638 on gifts this holiday season. And a large chunk of this money will go toward purchases for children. Each year, consumer experts predict what the hottest gifts for kids will be, and parents scramble to purchase those items before they sell out. Remember the Tickle Me Elmo craze of 1996? Or the famed Nintendo Wii shortage of the early 2000s? Yup. Holiday shopping can turn otherwise calm, functioning adults into crazed shopping zombies.
What Really Matters?
Just before Thanksgiving, a Google search for “best gifts for kids 2018” revealed…a lot of STUFF. Not one link suggested that what children really need goes beyond material things. (This is not too surprising, since Google and other search engines are fueled by advertising dollars.) But still…shouldn’t one of the primary messages in our culture (and especially around the holidays!) be about the truly important (and lasting) things we can give our kids: love, time, life lessons, encouragement…and really, really good memories?
At Kindermusik, we believe these important gifts can all come wrapped up in one thing: shared musical experiences. Singing and dancing with your children is a simple but powerful way to give love, joy, and quality time together. Research has shown that autobiographical memories are enhanced by music—so a shared musical experience is quite literally a gift that lasts a lifetime. Music also opens the pathways to language and math concepts and involves all domains of learning, from movement to cognition to healthy social-emotional development.
Investments That Sing
So how do you give the children in your life the gift of music? You can enroll them in music classes. You can share your own favorite childhood songs with them. And you can commit to including musical rituals in your family’s daily life. Kindermusik’s The Case for Music makes this easy.
Using refrigerator magnets as your roadmap and downloaded songs for each day of the week, you can make music and instrument play a joyful part of every day.
Start your morning with a catchy tune, (like Good Morning, Buenos Dias – listen below!), that will quickly imprint on your child’s memory, and keep the music going with other selections to enhance play time, nap time, eating time, and errands time. Infusing music into your child’s day is simple—and as cliched as it sounds, it’s truly a gift that keeps on giving.
So let’s make this holiday season about the important things—the gifts that come with minimal wrapping paper mess. The ones that fill the heart instead of the toy bin. The ones that have a lasting impact.
Wishing you and yours a season of health, happiness, love, and, of course, music.