Early Childhood: 10 Ways to Use Music Every Day with your Child
Early childhood is a critical time for learning and growth. Parents can help their children develop by using music with them at home. Here are some ideas to get you started!
One of the most important parts of my job is giving parents practical ideas on how to use music in the home to help their children progress in early childhood. While my advice for parents is always related to my client’s goals in the therapy session, I do have ideas on general things that parents can do in the home to play with their kids and teach them through music in early childhood. These ideas are helpful with all children–those with disabilities and those without! Here are just a few ideas for you to try:
- Sing simple finger plays with your child. Some of my favorites are “Little Green Frog”, “Five Little Ducks” and “Five Green and Speckled Frogs”. Encourage your child to do actions with you and guess what’s next as they get more familiar with the song.
- Turn on a children’s Pandora station(Raffi is my favorite!!) and dance and sing along with the songs.
- This was one of my favorite ways to bond with my infant during those first months when I was so sleep deprived and we were still figuring each other out. I flipped on the music and my mood and connection with my baby instantly changed. Something about that music!
- Make homemade instruments together. An easy shaker idea is to get a paper plate, color it, fill it with popcorn, then fold it in half and staple the outside together. Just beware of little kernels around if your child rips it… You can also look up tons of ideas online for homemade instruments!
- Play turn taking games with instruments. I like to sit face to face with one instrument such as a tambourine or shaker, and sing a short song during my turn, and a short song during the child’s turn, and back and forth.
- Play passing games if you have multiple children. Sit in a circle and pass an instrument while you sing, then stop when the music stops. You can spice it up by passing it the opposite way each time you sing, or have one child in charge of saying “stop!” Another variation is to make stop and go signs for one child to hold up to cue the game.
- Play simple call and response games. I like to do this vocally or with instruments. The basic idea is that you (or the child) plays a rhythm or sings a short melody (or silly nonsense words in some cases:), and you copy each other. I love to do this spontaneously in the car as it’s a good way to get the kids laughing and engaged with you, especially if it’s one of those car rides where tension is high!
- Sing “Twinkle Twinkle” (or any other favorite song) in as many styles as you can think of. I like to include opera style, underwater style (bubble your lips with a finger while you sing), hiccups, monster style, mouse style, etc.
- Sing songs together with kazoos. There’s something about kazoos that kids just love!
- Sing about routines: tying shoes, taking a bath, getting in/out of the car, brushing teeth, etc. This can be especially effective with preparing for transitions “it’s almost time to go, let’s put on our shoes, let’s put on our coat, we’re going to drive to the store”, etc. Singing about what you’re going to do can help the child prepare mentally and make the transition time fun instead of stressful.
- I recorded an album entitled “Skill Songs for Children” that is on songsforteaching.com. It has songs for routines such as sitting down for dinner, brushing teeth, saying goodnight, saying thank you, and washing hands. You’re welcome to check it out and see if it is helpful to you!
- Teach academic concepts through music. Use well known simple songs like “Old MacDonald” to do a teaching session on animals, Raffi’s “Going to the Zoo” to teach about zoo animals, “Dr. Knickerbocker” to teach numbers 1-9, “ABC’s” to teach letters, etc. Search for songs on different topics, as there are thousands out there! I highly recommend looking up songsforteaching.com if you need ideas. They’ve got TONS of music recordings!
I hope this gives you some good ideas on how to use music at home with your kids during the early childhood phase! If you have any other ideas I would LOVE to hear them