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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Introduction to Music

Since young, KB loves music more than anything he does, and I could resonate with him. I too love music and could not live without it. I reflected upon our 'musical journey'.

Babyhood - listening
Toddler - movement and listening, occasional instruments (drums, bells, percussion, triangle etc.)
Preschoolers - praise & worship, signing with singing, movement, solfege, intro note reading, rhythm, instruments

I wanted to inspire him on solfege and pulled out this incredibly inspirational clip. KB and I learnt this song when he was 3 years old, so its an old favourite, but this is way inspiring and fun and we can't help but wanna dance with it too.

Why is listening important?

KB at 4.5yrs old went for a simple interview to see if his fingers could curl and play last year. It seemed that he was and he played a single song under the instruction of a teacher. Even his last finger was able to tap on the keyboard nicely. He was happy when he came home and went to the keyboard to tinkle abit. I printed out the score for him and he played for daddy to hear.

But I didnt sign him up for that class. If looking at the score and learning to play is what he is doing now, when will he develop a ear for music? I decided that it is best to delay playing and learn to listen well. I know he has occassionally told me how sad or happy a music piece is, he is learning to listen with his heart, not just the rhythm, but the feel. My brother, a guitarist and drummer commented that KB has a good sense of rhythm.

And because music is a language of the heart, we really needed time to develop that. We need both technical aptitude and inspiration. In piano education a good ear and good sight reading are both important.

Character, character, character
I up the level of solfege training last week, just to see where he is. He was not so happy. He didn't want to do it when it comes to practise time. We were doing do-re-mi and I went all over to fa-so-re. A rather diffificult sequence to pitch if he hasn't gotten them in his heart. So we talked a little about tenacity and how Christ who enabled us. But I also scaled down and worked with him at his level.

Then I played "Jingle Bell" and "Twinkle twinkle little starts" today, and sang it all in solfege. And realised that Jingle Bell is the easier song as the melody only ranges from Do - So. So begins our journey in solfege singing.

I taught signing in solfege and that was fun, since he already signed actively during worship, but we'll see where it leads for now.

Various methods for teaching piano
I am no expert on the best methods, but here's a list for exploration. As with all things that a child learns, I work on inspiration, gifted-ness, readiness and best suited approach. Check this out.Piano Education.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

workboxes in!

This year, We start our 3 year old on light academics, still peppered with lots of play, while our almost 5 year old transit to doing some 'real' work. So we looked around for a system that facilitates independent learning so that I would not really be needed to sit with both kids at the same time. Sue Patrick's Workbox System was something we have been eyeing for some time and it was ready for implementation.

We got our workboxes from IKEA. Yes, it is cheaper but also because it is not completely 'boxed up', it gives us the flexibility to put a toy or a manipulative that is taller than the drawer or materials for craft that ain't really the size of the drawer. All we need to do is to shift it up or down a step. Easy!

The only problem is the transport. IKEA charges $60 for any amount of furniture we buy, and the frame does not fit into the car boot. But thanks to my mum, her friend helped transport it back for us via a truck.

Instead of the usual numbering , I added fruit of the spirit onto the number tags, so I could call out the fruit or the number. I printed and laminated each fruit in colour and the same fruit without colour, so its abit like shadow matching.

Velcro set is brought from Diaso. Any velcro set that is designed to hold wires together usually works, but I like the flap at the end of the velcro best. I cut each piece in half and stuck the one with the flap sticking out to the back of the coloured fruit tag. You have to be sure the other part is stuck to the frame.

Next I would work out which fruit goes to which child's drawer only because it would speak to them as I converse with them daily.

Once the child is finished with his activities/learnings, usually from the drawers top down. He would peal off the left fruit and stick it to the one on the right. That way, we all know that the work is done. He would let me mark it on the spot and chuck it into the big white drawer for me to collect at the end of the day. See how the flap at the end helps the child pull the tag out?

My almost 5 year old was a breeze to work with as it was easy for his nimble fingers to peal and paste and he usually enjoys independent work. Since he also work really quickly he enjoys going to the boxes himself while I can busy myself with the younger one. My 3 yr old needed some coaching on how to use the workboxes. Granted work boxes were not meant for little ones as they hardly have any academics to work on, and fairly little independent learning at this stage. But I still threw in puzzles and manipulatives for my 3 yr old to do, if I needed to spend time with the elder one. We have been using this for about two weeks and it worked perfectly for us. :)

Friday, February 03, 2012

Benefits for Children of Play in nature

Benefits for Children of Play in Nature

By Randy White
The children's play gardens (naturalized playgrounds) that our company designs for clients emphasize a rich natural environment as the play setting and nature as the play element. Our designs are based upon an extensive body of research and literature on:
  • the significant benefits for children of regular play experiences in nature,
  • children's play preferences, and
  • the most effective designs to support children's development.
Following is a summary of the many benefits that regular play in nature has for children:
  • Children with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are better able to concentrate after contact with nature (Taylor et al. 2001).
  • Children with views of and contact with nature score higher on tests of concentration and self-discipline. The greener, the better the scores (Wells 2000, Taylor et al. 2002).
  • Children who play regularly in natural environments show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility, and they are sick less often (Grahn, et al. 1997, Fjortoft & Sageie 2001).
  • When children play in natural environments, their play is more diverse with imaginative and creative play that fosters language and collaborative skills (Moore & Wong 1997, Taylor, et al. 1998, Fjortoft 2000).
  • Exposure to natural environments improves children's cognitive development by improving their awareness, reasoning and observational skills (Pyle 2002).
  • Nature buffers the impact of life's stresses on children and helps them deal with adversity. The greater the amount of nature exposure, the greater the benefits (Wells & Evans 2003).
  • Play in a diverse natural environment reduces or eliminates bullying (Malone & Tranter 2003).
  • Nature helps children develop powers of observation and creativity and instills a sense of peace and being at one with the world (Crain 2001).
  • Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked with the development of imagination and the sense of wonder (Cobb 1977, Louv 1991). Wonder is an important motivator for life long learning (Wilson 1997).
  • Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about each other (Moore 1996).
  • Natural environments stimulate social interaction between children (Moore 1986, Bixler et al. 2002).
  • Outdoor environments are important to children's development of independence and autonomy (Bartlett 1996).
  • Play in outdoor environments stimulates all aspects of children development more readily than indoor environments (Moore & Wong 1997).
  • An affinity to and love of nature, along with a positive environmental ethic, grow out of regular contact with and play in the natural world during early childhood. Children's loss of regular contact with the natural world can result in a biophobic future generation not interested in preserving nature and its diversity (Bunting & Cousins 1985; Chawla 1988; Wilson 1993; Pyle 1993; Chipeniuk 1994; Sobel 1996, 2002 & 2004; Hart 1997; Wilson 1997, Kals et al. 1999; Moore & Cosco 2000; Fisman 2001; Kellert 2002; Bixler et al. 2002; Kals & Ittner 2003; Schultz et al. 2004).
"There's no way that we can help children to learn to love and preserve this planet, if we don't give them direct experiences with the miracles and blessings of nature."