White lab coats. Sterile rooms with fluorescent lights. Charts and spreadsheets. And people named Doctor So-and-So or You-Know-Who, PhD.
Yes. That image often materializes when we think about the word RESEARCH. We rarely think about the game Peek-a-Boo or filling a tissue box with balls (and dumping them out) or mimicking someone’s face. But, that is RESEARCH, too. In fact, young children are the youngest scientists. Research and good ol’ trial-and-error: It’s how children learn about the world around them.
Of course, babies and toddlers don’t don white lab coats and create spreadsheets when they conduct research. Instead, they play. That’s right. Children conduct research through play. Parents may not always recognize when a child is learning because it almost always looks like playtime. However, early childhood educators see beyond the laughing, dancing, and singing to see the hard work of learning through play. Take a peek at all of the learning happening through play.
What Parents See Vs. What Teachers See
Parents see a baby shaking an instrument. Teachers see a baby practicing fine motor skills and learning cause-and-effect.
Parents see a baby being rocked back and forth to a lullaby. Teachers see baby’s developing vestibular system at work and parent-child bonding. Strong bonds with a parent leads to increased confidence to learn about the world.
Parents see a mom dancing with her baby while waving a scarf. Teachers see a sight-strengthening activity that encourages eye-tracking and strengthens both depth perception and eye-hand coordination.
Parents see a toddler jumping up and down, stomping to the beat, or mimicking a farm animal’s movement. Teachers see young children actively practicing all of those gross motor skills.
Parents see a toddler reciting the fingerplay “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.” Teachers see children exercising finger, hand, thumb, hand, and wrist muscles, all of which are needed for holding and writing with a pencil.
Parents hear a toddler singing a song over and over again. Teachers hear a child singing a song with a verse then a chorus then a verse then a chorus…or in other words using music to experience the early math skill of patterns.
Parents hear a preschooler singing a silly song and laughing at the unfamiliar words. Teachers see children developing a sense of humor as they learn what is and isn’t funny—and when it is appropriate (or not) to laugh.
Parents see a preschooler tapping out a steady beat on the drum or by clapping hands. Teachers see a child learning the same skill that helps them walk effortlessly, speak expressively, and even regulate repeated motions such as riding a bicycle, brushing teeth, or dribbling a ball.
What Do YOU see in a music class? (Hint: It’s not just singing, dancing, and playing instruments!) Take a peek!
Do you want to see what Kindermusik educators see? Contact your local educator and visit a class!
Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.