Movement: Key to Learning

“Movement is key to learning! Our brains fully develop through movement activities such as crawling, rolling, turning, walking, skipping, reaching, swinging and much more! The brain has a plan for development that involves specific and intensive motor activities to make full use of our complicated nervous system.” — “Movement and Music: The Keys to Learning,” by Anne Green Gilbert, Kindermusik Notes Nov./Dec. 1998

Movement Matters!

From birth to age seven children learn primarily through their senses and movement.  So, each week Kindermusik provides varied movement experiences, encouraging your child to learn by moving in class and at home.  Here are 5 types of movement you might experience in class and some of their benefits:

1.  Body awareness activities help children link movement with language.  Touching and naming body parts is an example of sensory learning. This is a great way to stimulate your child’s motor and language development.

  • At Home with Baby – sing and dance with “Come Along and Dance” from “Hickory, Dickory, Tickle & Bounce”.  In addition to clapping with hands and tapping with toes consider adding verses like “with your eyes you blink, blink, blink” or “with your mouth you kiss, kiss, kiss” or “with your feet you kick, kick, kick.”  You can also do the same with “Santy Maloney” adding verses like “tap toes together” or “pat knees together” or even “pat heads together.”
  • At Home with Toddlers – Try out “I Saw a Little Rabbit”  or “Buzz Upon the Flower” with your child being sure to highlight all those great body awareness words.  In class and at home, also think about using the time for exploring instruments to also highlight body parts.  “Can you tap on your toes?”  “How about your knees?”  “Can you hide your bells behind your back?”

2.  Synchronized, steady beat movement requires coordination with an external steady beat that does not match one’s own, internal steady beat—this could be the steady beat of a recording or of another person’s movements. Your child experiences steady beat when you rock or pat his body to the beat of a song. Synchronized movement then allows him to actively apply this concept and internalize a sense of steady beat. Steady beat awareness is important to the development of smooth speech flow and lays the foundation for walking with coordination, bouncing a ball, and even using scissors. Musically, it will allow your child to sing, dance, and play instruments in a group.

  • At Home with Babies and Toddlers – Any of our warm-up chants and songs, lap bounces, or songs for instrument exploration are perfect for strengthening steady beat.  Try out bouncing along with “Dickery, Dickery Dare” and “The Duke of York”.  For our older toddlers in “Fiddle-Dee-Dee” another great activity is to clap hands and “pendulum rock” side to side to “Old Joe Clark”.

3.  Spatial awareness is the understanding of one’s body in relationship to personal and general space and includes the “where” and “how” of movement.

  • At Home with Babies – Our “Hickory, Dickory, Tickle, and Bounce” book and bounce are perfect for exploring spatial concepts as you move baby over, under, around, side-to-side, and up and down.
  • At Home with Toddlers – Explore spatial concepts with your child—around & through, over & under, up & down—to “Walk Along, Rover”.  You might even create an impromptu obstacle course with pillows, boxes or even chairs to crawl or walk over, under, and through as you move along to “Lento y Rapido” or another favorite from class.

4.  Expressive movement begins when a child imitates movements—showing feelings, a mood, or dramatizing an action or animal movement. A child’s expressive movement emerges as her movement repertoire, body awareness, and imagination all develop. Creativity is at work when your child combines simple concepts (e.g. jump + backward + fast).

  • At Home with Baby – At this stage your baby is learning far more through moving with you and copying you.  Try out a free dance with “The Tailor and the Mouse” or “The Happy Dancer” as you share a variety of new movements with her being sure to label as you go.  Before long, young toddlers will be swaying, twirling, and stomping right along with you even adding their own dance moves to their favorite songs.
  • At Home with Toddlers – Try individual movement words (ideas like jump, wiggle, and stomp) with your child.  Then help her combine words to create “new” ideas (jump forward, waddle slowly) as you dance to a favorite instrumental selection from your Home CDs like our new “Bangara Dance” or the “High and Low Dance”.

5.  Group dances and circle games allow your child to “feel” movement, emotion, and social connections. The traditional Ring Around the Rosey, for example, gives your child an experience of dealing with emotions in a healthy manner when she “falls down” and gets back up. Circle dances also nurture development of steady beat, ensemble skills, and a sense of musical form.

  • At Home with Children of All Ages – Involve the whole family in favorite circle songs from class. Invite brothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors to take part!  Here are a few of our favorites from class to try out:  “Santy Maloney” (from “Village”) or “Jing Jang” and “Go ‘Round the Mountain” (from “Our Time”).
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