We all know how that commercial jingle gets stuck in our heads. Well, those of us who are old enough to remember a time before we could fast-forward the DVR through the commercials know what it’s like. Would we be able to recall that information about the carpet cleaner so easily if it hadn’t been set to music? Likely not. (Go ahead…take a break and sing that jingle that just popped into your head. We’ll wait).
Researchers believe that when young children listen to music, it forms pathways between cells in their brains. When children actively participate in the musical experience, the pathways can make their strongest connections. Not only does music makes our brains grow; it is liked by nearly everyone on the planet, and it is a primary learning tool for preschool-aged children.
Children between the ages of two and five are making their way in the world in countless ways, one of which is memorizing some basic facts of life, such as the months of the year, the days of the week, or how many sides a square has. Memorizing these facts by rote can be laborious and not very exciting. Instead, spicing it up with songs that young students can participate in make things more fun and speed up the memorization process.
At Square Roots Preschool, we have a song for just about everything: welcome to school (introduces the kids in class), months of the year, days of the week, snack time (helps us have patience and be polite), shapes, colors, letters, numbers, clean up time and lining up. Some of the songs help us memorize basic facts, and some help us remember the rules. In either case, music supports what we need to learn.
Some of the younger students may not be able to pronounce all the words, but the message sinks in. Parents ask “is there a song you sing about ‘up and down’? Johnny sings this whole long song, and all I can make out is ‘up and down.'” Well, yes, we do! And even though Johnny’s words may not be clear when he sings the words at home, he’s learned which way is up and which way is down. And he’ll get all the words soon enough.
We also use instruments in our classroom. Each day, each child gets to hold and pat the tambourine during the part of the song when we are welcoming him or her. There are other opportunities during our lessons and during play time for the students to explore a variety of instruments and songs, helping forge those important connections in the brain. And we have so much fun!
So, don’t be shy! Turn up the volume with your little learner!