The ABC Music & Me blog is moving!

Thank you for being a part of the ABC Music & Me blog community. We know you believe in the power of music to change the trajectory of a child’s life as much as we do. For more than 30 years, music has been at the heart and soul of all we do. Now, we want to make it easier for our entire community of children, parents, educators, schools, and families to connect together by bringing all of our blog communities together, including ABC Music & Me and Kindermusik. Today will be our last post on the ABC Music & Me blog.

Minds on Music Kindermusik BlogWe invite you to join us and subscribe to our Minds on Music Blog – RSS Feed where you will find even more research, stories, videos, and classroom tips on how to tap into the power of music in private studios, public schools, childcare centers, and at home. And, if you haven’t already, be sure to “Like” Kindermusik on Facebook, too. It will make it even easier for you participate in the entire Kindermusik community.

 

Preschool curriculum that teaches children attention skills can increase likelihood of college attendance

You don’t need to be entrenched in the day-to-day of preschool lesson plans to recognize the old saying: “The days may pass slowly, but the years fly by.” One day a child actively participates in a preschool curriculum filled with sensory centers, circle time, and lots of finger paints and seemingly the next day that same child is moving into a college campus dorm. Fly by, indeed!

New preschool research published in the Early Childhood Research Quarterly shows that those preschool lesson plans are connected to college by much more than just the passing of time. Researchers from Oregon State University found that children who learn how to actively listen, pay attention to directions, complete tasks in a timely manner, and exhibit strong inhibitory control in preschool or daycare have a 50 percent better chance of finishing college.

Daycare curriculum that teaches school-readiness skills increases a child’s likelihood of earning a college diploma

In the longitudinal study, researchers followed 430 children from age 4 to 24. Parents rated their preschoolers in areas such as “plays with a single toy for long periods of time” or “child gives up easily when difficulties are encountered.” Researchers assessed the reading and math abilities of the children at seven years old and again at 21 years old. While many would presume math and reading abilities to be the greater predictor for college achievement, this research found that children with greater attention span and perseverance during preschool had a 50 percent higher rate of obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

“The important factor was being able to focus and persist,” explained the lead author Megan McClelland in Medical News Today. “Someone can be brilliant, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can focus when they need to and finish a task or job.”

Preschool curriculum uses music and movement to promote school-readiness skills

Created by Kindermusik International, ABC Music & Me is a standards-based supplemental daycare curriculum. All levels of our research-supported toddler and preschool curriculum cultivate turn-taking and sharing, improve self-control, enhance creativity, and boost early language development and pre-literacy. Plus, our preschool lessons plans include many opportunities for children to learn and practice active listening skills.

For more information about bringing our preschool curriculum to your childcare or daycare, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com. Your parents will love knowing their children are participating in the premiere enrichment program and your educators will love how easy (and fun!) the 30-minute sessions are to teach.

10 ways parents can boost children’s early literacy development

Classroom teachers and administrators know that family involvement in early childhood education can significantly influence early literacy development, early language development, and overall school success. As with most educational endeavors, implementing best practices can increase results. So, we gathered 10 research-based tips from previous blog posts for teachers to share with parents. These tips can increase parent involvement in early childhood education and boost young children’s early language and early literacy development, especially when used as part of an early literacy curriculum, such as ABC Music & Me. These tips can also work in the classroom during storytime.

10 ways parents can boost children’s phonemic awareness, early literacy development, and early language development.

  1. Routinely read books together.
  2. Include a mixture of books that children pick to read.
  3. When selecting stories to read together and when asking questions about the story, build on children’s interests.
  4. While reading together, ask children open-ended questions about a story’s characters, setting, and events in the story.
  5. Expand on children’s answers by repeating the answer, clarifying the answer, or asking more questions.
  6. Provide praise and encouragement to children for giving input into the story.
  7. During storybook reading, if a new vocabulary word is introduced, give the definition and then re-read the page substituting the new vocabulary word with the definition.
  8. Encourage children to act out the stories and integrate into playtime.
  9. When reading aloud, make print references, such as pointing out letters and words on the pages, showing capital letters, and indicating left to right and top to bottom reading.
  10. Model how much enjoyment can be received from reading.

Use music to teach phonemic awareness and support early language and early literacy development

After more than 30 years of experience creating early childhood curricula, Kindermusik International developed ABC Music & Me. Our research-based and standards-aligned early literacy curriculum uses music and movement to teach young children early literacy development and early language development. Plus, research shows that music classes improve phonemic awareness in young children.

In addition to the research-based classroom lessons, ABC Music & Me increases parent involvement in early childhood education by providing families each month with the music from class as well as a Family Activity Guide (available in English and Spanish). The guide includes the story from class and related literacy activities that families can do together at home where a child learns best.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me in your school, day care, or preschool to teach early language and early literacy and increase parental involvement in early childhood education, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

 

 

Importance of including a literacy-rich home environment for children with Down syndrome

Children of all abilities greatly benefit from shared storybook reading at home and access to a literacy-rich home environment. The doctor of all children’s books—Dr. Seuss—expresses it this way: “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Reading opens up the world to children and shows them possibilities beyond their current experiences and surroundings.

A recent study published in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research underscores the importance of a literacy-rich home environment for children with Down syndrome. L. Ricci, PhD, investigated the home literacy environments, children’s interest in reading, and emergent literacy skills of:

  • Preschoolers with Down syndrome
  • School-aged children with Down syndrome
  • Typically developing preschoolers matched on mental age with the school-aged children with Down syndrome

Parent questionnaires provided insight into home literacy environments and children’s interest in reading. Ricci gathered cognitive functioning, receptive vocabulary, alphabet knowledge, and comprehension assessments of school-aged children with Down syndrome and typically developing preschoolers. The research revealed the impact of rich home literacy environments on the emerging literacy skills of children with Down syndrome.

Children with Down syndrome benefit from literacy rich home environments

  • When compared to preschoolers with Down syndrome, school-aged children with Down syndrome experienced a richer home literacy environment and showed a greater interest in reading.
  • School-aged children with Down syndrome with rich home literacy environments did better than mental-aged matched preschoolers on letter and sight word knowledge and familiarity with print.

Early childhood special education curriculum uses music to teach children early literacy and language skills

ABC Music & Me uses music and movement to teach children of all abilities early literacy and language, self-regulation, fine and gross motor skills, listening, social skills, and more. Students with special needs, including Down syndrome, who participate in ABC Music & Me as a special education curriculum show gains in literacy and language skills.

A supplemental strategies guide, Meeting Special Needs, organized unit-by-unit and lesson-by-lesson, suggests activity adaptations for children with particular needs or impairments. ABC Music & Me helps increase parent involvement in education by including materials for families to use together at home that extends the learning. Materials include the music from class, the story, and literacy activities.

To learn more about using ABC Music & Me as an early childhood special education curriculum and how our curriculum aligns with IDEA requirements, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

 

Parent involvement in early childhood education that grows literacy skills

Without a doubt, a parent is a child’s first and best teacher. Unfortunately, unlike many early childhood educators who receive professional development for teachers throughout the year, parents generally partake in on-the-job training. Educators are uniquely suited to help support a parent’s role as teacher by sharing insights on how children learn best. Not surprisingly, research indicates that sharing developmental information not only increases parent involvement in early childhood education but also can boost a child’s emergent literacy skills.

Misty LaCour recently presented her dissertation that includes effective tips that parents and other caregivers can incorporate into shared storybook reading to best support emergent literacy skills in young children. In this small study, LaCour recruited two Head Start classrooms to participate in the study. The parents with children in one classroom received preschool storybooks to take home as well as training on how to effectively read with their children. The other Head Start classroom did not receive training. LaCour tested the emerging literacy skills of children in both classrooms, pre- and post-training. The children whose parents participated in the training showed an increase in emerging literacy skills when compared to the control group. The parent training included these four tips:

4 tips for reading aloud with preschoolers to support emergent literacy skills

  1. Ask preschoolers open-ended questions about a story’s characters, setting, and events in the story.
  2. Expand on preschoolers’ answers by repeating the answer, clarifying the answer, or asking further questions.
  3. Provide praise and encouragement to children for giving input into the story.
  4. Build on children’s interests when selecting stories to read together and questions regarding the story.

Early literacy and language curriculum uses music and shared storybook reading at home to increase family involvement in education

ABC Music & Me uses music and movement to teach young children early literacy and language. In addition to the research based curriculum, ABC Music & Me increases parent involvement in early childhood education by providing families each month with the music from class as well as a Family Activity Guide (available in English and Spanish). The guide includes the story from class and related literacy activities that families can do together at home to connect the classroom learning with the home literacy environment as well as support the role of parents as teachers. The home materials also include developmental information and tips that parents can easily incorporate into their daily routines and rituals.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me to teach early literacy and language and increase parent involvement in early childhood education, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

 

After school programs can improve attendance, school engagement, and reading, especially for at-risk students

For at-risk students, school can be a place to eat a warm meal, access and read books, and play safely outside with friends. When the last bell rings at the end of the day, many at-risk students leave the safety and structure of school for an environment less than ideal. Quality after school programs can provide many benefits for children, especially at-risk students.

The Afterschool Alliance reviewed dozens of studies on after school programs in the United States. The Summary of Formal Evaluations of
 the Academic Impact of Afterschool Programs found four reoccurring themes that showed how after school curriculum impacts at-risk students.

Four key ways quality after school program curriculum impacts at-risk students

  1. At-risk students who participate in after school programs show improved school attendance and measurable increases in learning engagement during regular school hours.
  2. At-risk students enrolled in an after school curriculum improve test scores and grades.
  3. The frequency and duration that at-risk students participate in after school programs is directly correlated to the positive benefits of attendance.
  4. Students at the greatest risk show the greatest gains from participating in an after school program curriculum.

After school curriculum uses music to teach at-risk students early language and literacy

Created by Kindermusik International, ABC Music & Me uses the proven cognitive benefits of music to boost the school readiness skills of at-risk students. ABC Music & Me can be used as an after school curriculum to help at-risk students experience gains in phonological and phonemic awareness, boost vocabulary acquisition, increase self-control abilities, and grow gross motor skills through whole body movement. Plus, the monthly home materials, available in English and Spanish, link the classroom learning to the home environment and provide reliable methods to increase parent involvement in early childhood education.

To learn more about using ABC Music & Me as an after school program curriculum for at-risk students, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

Head Start programs increase parent involvement in early childhood education

Given the precarious situation of many education budgets, teachers, administrators, and state and federal officials tout the long-term economic benefits of investing in early childhood education. Tim Bartrik, a senior economist at Upjohn Institute for Employment Research makes the connection between early childhood education and local economic development.

Now another economist, Adam Isen, a Doctoral candidate at The Wharton School, connects how investing in quality early childhood programs, specifically Early Head Start and Head Start, significantly increases parent involvement in early childhood education.

Parental involvement in early childhood education increases when children enroll in Early Head Start or Head Start

By reviewing the data from the Head Start Impact Study, Isen found that family involvement in early childhood education increased in many ways when children were enrolled in Early Head Start or Head Start programs, including:

  • Parents read to their children more frequently and longer when their children were enrolled in a program with Head Start curriculum or Early Head Start curriculum.
  • Even after children were no longer participating in a Head Start curriculum or Early Head Start curriculum, parent involvement remained high. For example, fathers not living in the home with their children spent more days visiting their children when their children had been enrolled in a Head Start curriculum.
  • The level of parent involvement in early childhood education positively correlated to children’s cognitive test scores.

Head Start curriculum and Early Head Start curriculum use music to increase parent involvement

Created by Kindermusik International, ABC Music & Me is a research-based Head Start curriculum and Early Head Start curriculum that uses music to help young children increase language and literacy skills as well as learn and practice school readiness skills, such as listening, sharing, and self-control. Head Start programs use our early literacy and language program as part of their Head Start curriculum and Early Head Start curriculum.

Our Head Start curriculum and Early Head Start curriculum align with Head Start funding sources and curriculum goals. Plus, ABC Music & Me strengthens parent involvement through monthly materials that families use together at home where a child learns best. Materials include the music and story from class and literacy activities.

To learn more about using ABC Music & Me as part of a Head Start curriculum or Early Head Start curriculum, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

 

 

After school curriculum for children with special needs

With a large number of dual-income families, the school day often extends to after school programs. However, for children with special needs, including autism, the options for quality after school program curriculum are limited. As published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, Michelle Haney, PhD, highlighted the growing need for after school curriculum inclusive of children with special needs, including autism. As more parents depend on quality after school curriculum, the need to reach children of all abilities grows.

Haney surveyed parents of children with special needs between the ages of four and 11 in Georgia. She uncovered not only an educational need for quality after school special education curriculum but also a high interest level of parents for enrolling their child with autism in an inclusive after school program curriculum.

Special education after school curriculum needs assessment

  • 59 percent of children in the survey participate or have participated in an after-school program at a public school or daycare or through a private caregiver or community organization.
  • Only 33 percent of parents indicated that this was a positive experience for their child. Parents noted that limited expertise of after school caregivers in the behavioral and social needs of children with autism, too much stimulation, and crowded settings contributed to the poor experiences.
  • Parents with children with special needs noted that their child needs support services and opportunities to improve speech-language skills (89 percent), motor skills (74 percent), and sensory integration (82 percent).
  • 69 percent of all parents were interested in attending an after school program at their child’s public school, especially if the teachers were trained, activities were structured and developmentally appropriate, and included predictable routines.

After school curriculum uses music to teach young children with special needs

Created by Kindermusik International, ABC Music & Me uses music and movement in structured, developmentally appropriate ways to teach children of all abilities early literacy and language, self-regulation, listening, and social skills. ABC Music & Me can be used as an after school curriculum to help children also practice turn taking, fine and gross motor skills, and following directions. Plus, students with special needs, including autism, who participate in ABC Music & Me as a special education curriculum show gains in literacy and language skills.

A supplemental strategies guide, Meeting Special Needs, organized unit-by-unit and lesson-by-lesson, suggests activity adaptations for children with particular needs or impairments. Plus, ABC Music & Me includes materials for families to use together at home to connect the classroom learning with the home environment and increase parent involvement in early childhood education.

To learn more about using ABC Music & Me as part of an after school program for children, including children with special needs, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

 

Family involvement in early childhood education influences emergent literacy skills

Family involvement in education starts long before formal school actually begins. In fact, family involvement in education starts at birth. As a child’s first and most important teacher, parents are uniquely suited to prepare a child for later academic success, including early literacy and language development.

Early childhood research continues to show the myriad educational benefits of early parent involvement, including a long-term study that shows parents who play with their toddler impact 5th grade reading and math scores. Another study reveals three types of parental involvement in early childhood education that increases reading scores. A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science sought to identify how parent teaching methods, parent expectations, and child interest influence learning literacy skills at home.

The research team recruited 108 families with 5-year-old children to participate in the study. In the study, parents completed a home literacy survey and children were assessed on reading interest, alphabet knowledge, and emergent word reading.

Teaching methods, parent expectations, and child interest influence learning literacy skills at home

The research results showed that many parents intentionally took an active role in their child’s early literacy learning. In addition, many parents maintained high expectations for early literacy acquisition prior to First Grade. The research revealed three connections in how family involvement in early childhood education influence emergent literacy skills.

  1. Parents who report teaching about literacy expressed higher expectations regarding their child’s knowledge about the alphabet, word reading, and printing.
  2. Parents who report teaching often tend to have children who show more interest in learning about literacy.
  3. Parent expectations and child interest remained positively and robustly associated with child literacy after controlling for parent teaching, as well as socio-economic status and child intelligence.

Early literacy and language curriculum uses music to increase parent involvement in early childhood education

ABC Music & Me uses music and movement to teach young children early literacy and language. In addition to the research-based classroom lessons, ABC Music & Me increases family involvement in education by providing families each month with the music from class as well as a Family Activity Guide (available in English and Spanish). The guide includes the story from class and related literacy activities that families can do together at home to connect the classroom learning with the home literacy environment as well as support the role of parents as teachers. Plus, as the research above indicates increased parent involvement can lead to increased interest for children, too!

For more information about using ABC Music & Me to teach early language and early literacy and increase parent involvement in early childhood education, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

Partnership for Children of Cumberland County receive grant to reach Pre-K students with ABC Music & Me

Teachers and administrators who work with young children often find many reasons to smile throughout the day. Earlier this month those who work with the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County in North Carolina received 10,000 more reasons to smile thanks to their local United Way.

The Partnership for Children of Cumberland County received a grant worth $10,000 to implement ABC Music & Me for classroom teachers, an early literacy and language program that is especially effective with at-risk students, English Language Learners, and children with special needs. Each year the United Way of Cumberland County awards grants from the Youth Growth Stock Trust to programs that support the educational and developmental needs of children in Cumberland County.

As Cumberland-area administrators for Smart Start, North Carolina’s early childhood initiative, and the NC Pre-Kindergarten Program, the Partnership team makes a difference in the lives of children and families every day. Now through this grant, those children and families will experience how ABC Music & Me uses music as the vehicle to learning school readiness skills and increase parental involvement in early childhood education.

“ABC Music & Me builds strong developmental foundations for young children, particularly in language and early literacy, active listening and expression, as well as other cognitive skills,” explains Kerri Hurley, an ABC Music and Me Account Manager and licensed Kindermusik Instructor in Cumberland County School Pre-K programs. “Plus, the program also integrates family involvement through the monthly home materials that reinforce in-class learning with fun songs and literacy activities.”

We look forward to hearing how ABC Music & Me not only puts a song in the hearts of children in Cumberland County but also prepares them for future academic success by teaching them early literacy and language skills, self-control, active listening, and more.

Title I Funding, Head Start Funding, and other funding opportunities for ABC Music & Me

If you are interested in bringing ABC Music & Me to your class, school, or district, we can help you find funding sources, including Title I Funding and Head Start Funding, through our ABC Music & Me Grant Locator. Our grant locator includes information on funding sources that support early childhood education, early literacy, special needs, family involvement in early childhood education, and other key attributes of ABC Music & Me.

For more information about ABC Music & Me, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.