The kids who are successful in school are those who remain curious even after the last bell rings, who notice the world around them, and who make connections among subjects and ideas. There are millions of ways to keep minds of all ages active and engaged outside the classroom.
The following article is part of a Noodle series about how to integrate learning into everyday life in order to instill a love of knowledge in your kids.
I once had a teacher who claimed that music incorporates every single school subject all together. Math, history, foreign languages, literacy — I don’t know about every subject, but music sure does cover a lot.
Music is one of those classes that doesn’t require hours of reading and note-taking (though it does involve note-making). While it certainly takes practice (as the old adage goes), music also speaks to the heart. Try some of these activities to get your child’s everyday activities in sync with musical learning.
Sing in the kitchen, in the car, in the bathtub, anywhere. Your kids won’t remember whether you can hit the high note or if you can dance like Beyoncé while doing it. They’ll remember that you sang, and that it was a happy time.
Not a singer? Try rhyming or tapping rhythms. Chanting is something anyone can do, and it can be fun to do so with an accompanying beat. Tap a pattern of sounds, and invite your child to imitate it from memory. Then have her create a beat that you repeat back. You can do this by snapping your fingers, clapping your hands, stomping your feet — doing anything that gets you and your child moving to a beat.
Keep instruments available — or, better yet, make instruments yourselves. Kids will learn about the mechanics of sound and get to build something that to pleases their ears. Even older kids will love to tinker with instruments they have made.
If you’re not very musical, try something inexpensive and easy to learn, like a ukulele. Let your kids see you play around with it and try new things. Watch instructional videos together, and take turns trying to strum along to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
It is a fallacy that the only music kids like is music that was made especially for them. Kids can be fascinated by what their parents love. Sure, the repetitive cartoony stuff is good sometimes, but they should have a broad range of musical exposure. Some of the fondest memories that kids form are related to what they shared with their parents — including their mom’s favorite song!
Listen to music from around the world. French hip-hop, African drumming, Japanese techno, British symphonies — older kids may especially enjoy learning more about the world beyond their school and friends, and imagining other cultures jamming out. Your children may or may not always like it, but trying new things is a wonderful habit for them to cultivate.
Set a story to music. Compositions like “Peter and the Wolf" pair certain sounds and melodies with specific characters, making it easier to tell a story — which you can read while you listen to the music. You could also listen to any song or symphony, and draw along with it. Make up a story as you hear the different portions of the music: scary monsters for the dark parts, deer prancing through fields for the light and bouncy parts, and a swooning romance for the dramatic mushy-sounding parts! Point out the music that scores a movie and how it enhances the story.
You can learn the cup game, which has become very popular for its catchy rhythm and sweet accompanying song. It was even featured in the 2012 movie “Pitch Perfect." Of course, you can’t go wrong with the classics either: Ring around the Rosy and Musical Chairs are still just as much fun for kids today as they always were!
Want more ideas on how to cultivate a love of learning in your child? Check out other parts of this series:
Sneak Learning Into Everyday Life: The Civics Edition
Sneak Learning Into Everyday Life: The Geography Edition
Sneak Learning Into Everyday Life: The History Edition
Sneak Learning Into Everyday Life: The Language Arts Edition
Sneak Learning Into Everyday Life: The Math Edition
Sneak Learning Into Everyday Life: The Nutrition Edition
Sneak Learning Into Everyday Life: The Science Edition