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Monthly Archives: April 2016

About Music in Early Education

Music’s prominent place in early education is based on the value of music to children’s growth and learning. The values of music are many and varied. Shellenberg (2003) relates music education to a wide range of cognitive skills. Children who had participated in music education for one year had increases in general intelligence. Schellenberg (2003) thought this increase was related to periods of focused attention, memorization, and the concentration involved in listening to, and making, music.

Research and theory document the following:

# Music has intrinsic and instrumental value in and of itself. Music is critical to human development and to creative thought.

# Music can also be used to present ideas and build concepts, teach or persuade, entertain, design, plan, beautify, and create (Consortium of National Arts Education Associations [CNAEA], 1994).

# Music plays a valued role in creating cultures and building civilizations. Music awakens children to folk arts and their influence on their own lives and the lives of others (CNAEA, 1994).

# Music is a social activity. Listening to music and singing or dancing together unites children. Individuals come to feel a part of the community when singing together.

# Music is another way of knowing, another symbolic mode of thought and expression. From the enactive and iconic mode of knowing and learning about the world through action, perception, and imagery, music grows to become a symbolic mode of learning.

# Music gives children unique opportunities to create and be fluent in their thinking. They can respond in unique ways to listening or moving to music and create new songs and rhymes.

# Music gives children the opportunity to express their feelings and ideas freely as they dance in the light of a sunbeam, pound a drum, or sing a song of joy.

# Music is mathematical. The rhythmic quality of music fosters children’s ability to keep time and count sequences.

# Music is physical. Children sway, clap, dance, or stomp to music, gaining control over their bodies. Even singing is a physical activity that requires the ability to control muscles, vocal cords, and breathing.

# Music benefits children with special needs. Because music is a pleasurable, nonthreatening experience, it can be used to help a child with special needs feel more comfortable within the group (Humpal, 2003).

# Music develops the skills necessary for learning to read and write (Andress, 1995). The Music and Reading Readiness Skills box on this page describes how and why music is necessary for the development of reading readiness skills.

Get Ready For High School, Here Its Tips

High school brings back special memories for each of us. Looking back, I remember those years with nostalgic fondness, yet I wouldn’t want to return to high school and start over. High school students struggle with personal identity, fitting in a social group, peer pressure and of course the stress of academic studies. They also are concerned with dating, driving and figuring what they will do once high school is over.

Certain high school experiences may have life-long consequences. Many of the choices students make in high school will lead them into adult habits and situations. Students still need direction and guidance from teachers, counselors and most of all from their parents.

There are a few ways parents can provide support and guidance to their kids who are about to enter high school.

# Promote the importance of education

Most educators would agree that when education is promoted and supported by parents, student achievement is higher. Parents need to remain active in their children’s education, even through the teen years. Preteen and teenagers still need the guidance of their parents in making crucial educational decisions. Obviously, parental involvement will differ from the preschool and elementary years. Parents of students about to enter high school will need to become informed about their child’s performance in school and learn about high school options.

Learn about high school graduation requirements and begin thinking about post-secondary education. Unlike elementary and middle school, high school grade-point averages are cumulative. Stress to your children that the grades that they earn as a freshmen are as important as any other year when applying to colleges or post-secondary education programs. Parents should stay in contact with their children’s teachers and school counselors to help students stay on track.

# Select the high school and the program carefully

There are many factors in choosing a high school program appropriate your child. The selection process should actively involve both the student and the parent. Consider your child’s study habits and interests. You may want to explore the possibility of a magnet program if your child has a particular interest. School districts offer various programs and have varying application requirements and deadlines. When selecting a high school and program, you and your teen will need to consider the options and resources the school or program has to offer. Consider the academic options, such as advanced placement course availability and other programs such as art, music and athletic programs.

Parents and teens should visit the school or program prior to enrolling making course selections. Meeting with a program coordinator or school counselor will prove to be an invaluable investment. High school students will have opportunities in high school to tailor their course selections to their individual needs, goals, abilities and interests. Most schools offer courses in honors, advanced placement, special education, remedial as well as a variety of electives both academic and vocational. Electives should be chosen with future goals in mind. Parents should listen carefully to their teens so not to impose their own interests on them while remaining supportive and objective. Parents can assist their teens into making selections that will be most beneficial to the individual student. To learn more about high school programs and options, you can visit your school district’s web site.

# Importance of Peers

Being a parent of a preteen or middle school student, you are already aware of the influence of peers in your child’s life. Some kids do things in direct contrast to the beliefs parents have hoped to instill in order to be accepted by peers. None of us dealing with preteens and young teens should ever underestimate the value of peer pressure.

The good news is, peer pressure can be a positive aspect to your teen. The peer group your child has in high school may shape the direction of your son or daughter’s success in school and in early adulthood. Encourage your kids to be involved in positive activities, both during school and during their free time. Teens can influence each other to keep their grades up, stay away from drugs, try out for a play or sport and become leaders in school.

Communication with your child during the teen years may be more crucial than ever. Be a good model for your teen, and remain a constant in his or her evolving life. Get to really know your child and his or her friends.

Parents can assist their kids with the transition from middle to high school by being informed and offering guidance and support. Acknowledge that this is a major step from childhood to adulthood. The most important goal of high school is to graduate with purpose and an action plan for the future. Parents and students are encouraged to talk to a school counselor to explore options. High school is the beginning of your child’s future. Encourage your son or daughter to take charge now, and be your child’s fundamental support.

Language Development for Middle Childhood

The foundation of language development is established during the preschool and early elementary school years. School-age children, however, continue to refine their language skills in several domains. For example, their understanding of word meaning, or semantic development, continues throughout middle childhood. A first grader may know the meaning of 8,000 to 14,000 words, but a high-schooler knows 80,000 words (Owens, 1996). These numbers are equivalent to the acquisition of 6,200 words per year between first grade and graduating from high school. The understanding that words have multiple meanings also increases. This more complex understanding of word use may be attributed, in part, to cognitive development.

With the advancement of cognition children become better communicators and possess a more sophisticated sense of humor. A related advancement is that school-age children also begin to comprehend the use of idioms, such as “Who let the cat out of the bag?” Research shows that the comprehension of multiple word use, idioms, and forms of sarcasm may not occur until adolescence (Bloom, 1998). Semantic development in middle childhood seems to rely heavily on the context of the conversation and children’s ability to figure out the meaning of a word or phrase by what another person intended to say, rather than a literal interpretation of word choice (Baumann, Font, Edwards, & Boland, 2005; Cain, Oakhill, & Elbro, 2003).

Syntax development, or grammatical understanding and construction, expands during middle childhood. Children begin to understand the difference between active and passive voice (O’Grady, 1997). If given a toy car and truck and asked to show the experimenter “the car hit the truck” and “the car was hit by the truck,” a 10-year-old is more likely than a 6-year-old to play out the scene of both statements correctly. The older child will listen to the meaning of the statements rather than automatically link the action of the verb to the nearest noun. Older children also begin to understand and use more sophisticated syntactical rules, such as the correct use of subject-verb and noun-pronoun agreement, correct uses of that and which to introduce subordinate clauses, and the proper use of punctuation such as colons and semicolons. During middle childhood, children also begin to learn how to use the articles a and the correctly as well as understand connectives, such as but, although, yet, however, and unless (Vion & Colas, 2004).

Middle childhood is also the period in which children improve on the pragma-tics of language, or the social etiquette of language. For example, school-age children become better at maintaining and contributing to a conversation by asking questions and adding information. Between ages 5 and 9, children become better at shading, or changing the topic during a conversation. They do so more gradually and tactfully than younger children. This results from an increasing awareness of the needs of the listener. As children move through middle childhood they become more aware of when they are misunderstood and do a better job of clarifying their meaning by changing or adding words to their sentences (Ninio & Snow, 1996).

Compared to preschool and early elementary schoolchildren, children from 6 to 12 years of age are more effective communicators, use more complex grammatical constructions, and are more aware of their role as a listener and communicator within multiple contexts. Greater diversity among language skills in older children results largely from environmental factors. Children with larger vocabularies, more complex grammar, and social language manners have been shown to come from homes with two parents and parents with higher educational backgrounds and income levels. They also converse with their parents more often and have more positive speech interactions with them (Hoff & Tian, 2005; Weigel, Martin, & Bennett, 2005). The differences in language development influenced by these factors are evident by kindergarten and remain stable through adolescence (Farkas & Beron, 2004).

One’s cultural background has been shown to influence language development as well. In the development of pragmatics, for example, American children often argue with their older siblings and sometimes speak to them with disrespect. In contrast, children from Japan are expected to speak to elders, which includes older siblings, with respect at all times. In Western societies children are expected to speak up and ask questions when they have them. But Mexican American and Southeast Asian communities, as well as some African American communities from the Southeast, teach children to engage in conversation with an adult only when the adult initiates the conversation (Grant & Gomez, 2001). Thus, vocabulary, grammar use, and pragmatics are influenced by the language culture that surrounds the child. Children’s language development will affect their ability to learn in school and converse with others (Craig & Washington, 2004; Gonzalez, 2005).