Guest blogger Jamie Smith, ISU Environmental Rating Scale Assessor, shares the importance of singing, regardless of your tune!
Are you a musical person? Are you comfortable singing? I think many people feel like a rock star when they sing in the shower or in their car. Ask them to sing in front of others, and they may feel completely different. How do we find our musical comfort zone? We often observe programs that have a variety of music for the children to listen to, musical toys and instruments, but they receive a lower score on quality assessments because the staff do not informally sing or chant (ITERS-R) or initiate a music activity (ECERS-R and FCCERS-R).
First a foremost, music is fun! Music is also a vital part of child development. Singing encourages children to play with sounds, experiment with different rhythms and rhymes, and according to research, may even help create pathways between the cells in the brain. Finding beats and patterns provides early math skills. Dancing and coordinating body movements helps children learn to control their bodies. We know music plays an important role in early childhood programs, but so many of us struggle with singing in front of the children.
Sing out loud! Think about how you feel when you sing your favorite song or let loose on the dance floor. When you’re belting out your favorite tune on a road trip, you probably get a feeling of release and joy. Children need those experiences, too. They need to feel unrestricted in order to really get in touch with their feelings and creativity.
Be a rock star! You’re a model for the children in all you do, even singing. If you are shy and embarrassed, or say “I don’t have a good singing voice,” what does that tell the children? You shouldn’t sing if you don’t have a good voice? You should be embarrassed when you sing? We want to foster children’s confidence and creativity and we can do that through encouraging them to sing and dance and not being afraid to do so ourselves.
Let loose and enjoy! No one is watching. It’s hard to get over stage fright, but trust me, no one is secretly recording your rendition of “Wheels on the Bus.” Your time with the children can inspire them and allow you to feel creative and even silly-we all need that sometimes.
The article Introducing Preschoolers to Music provides some great tips for incorporating music in your daily routine. We know music is important to infants and toddlers, as well, and some of these tips and ideas work for younger children as well.
Music and mood are discussed in this article from healthychildren.org, which is sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
What are your thoughts? Can you easily channel your inner Mary Poppins, or is it hard for you to sing our loud?