Teaching Early Intervention Parents to Use Music at Home
One of the key elements of early intervention services is empowering parents with skills to help their child at home. Music should be one of those skills!
One of the benefits of utilizing music therapy in early intervention is that the parents can gain practical ideas on how to use music in the home. Using music consistently and using it effectively can have a tremendous impact on helping the child progress. Many parents are hesitant to use music because they don’t feel very musical themselves, but rest assured that your child is not concerned as much about your musical talent as he/she is about your efforts to play and connect.
Here are just a few of the ideas we share with parents to help them use more music at home.
- 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. Try it for yourself and notice how the mood can shift almost instantly.
- 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. 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. This is most fun with older toddlers and preschool age kiddos.
- Sing songs together with kazoos. There’s something about kazoos that kids just love! I even give my babies kazoos when they start holding toys, and I love to see their reaction when they “accidentally” make their first little sound into the kazoo and are surprised with the sound. Priceless!
- 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! If you have any other ideas I would LOVE to hear them.
This is part 4 of a 4-part series on music therapy in Early Intervention programs. All related posts include: