Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane, co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about experiences, ideas, nature, creativity, and culture. The latter might appear at times political, but we will try to avoid partisanship to speak to the broader issues that impact a culture. This is just too important a time not to sometimes speak to problems that impact society. As she and I do, readers will find we often disagree and have for over 50 years-- still able to be close friends. You can do that if you can be agreeable that we share more than not despite the difference.

Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome as it turns an article into a discussion, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled comments, or links (unless pre-approved).

Fantasy, the painting by Diane Widler Wenzel, cropped a little to fit the needs of a banner.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Educating Children

Once in awhile I receive a request to share something with those who read my blog. Now most of those requests are spam; but when it is worthwhile, I am pleased to be able to present it here. This topic initially seemed a bit off the roll I had been on, but then I read what Obama was saying in the SOTU and his emphasis on education's importance for our country's future, and it makes it very much part of the subject. How do we make our country strong-- through education and I think we all know it or those of us who aren't caught up in lower taxes as the only solution.

To me, and I've written about it before, there is not much more important than educating our children. Today more than ever, where the schools are short of money, it falls to us to add what we can to the process for the children around us.

Although most of my readers probably already raised their children, they do often have grandchildren, great nieces and nephews, or neighbor kids; so it is still of interest to hear good ideas about childhood education which we might apply or pass on. The following was sent to me by Kathleen Thomas:


Singing Before Talking

A child’s senses are stimulated to the fullest when he or she grows up listening to music, singing songs, or dancing to music. A child’s early development is positively impacted through exposure to music, as it works to strength the neurological pathways between brain cells. An early introduction to music is crucial for jump-starting childhood learning processes whether it be in day care, at home, or homeschool. Incorporating music into early childhood education strengthens cognitive abilities like memory and spatial reasoning skills.

More over, research has proven that creating an educational environment that engages the five senses, with particular attention to hearing can positively affect a child’s mind and physical development. The Nemours Foundation, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to the health of children, produced a report concluding that children who actively listen to, play, or perform music related activities excel in math and reading, have higher self-esteem, are more focused, and are more likely to play and explore with their peers.

Music makes the greatest educational and neurological impact on children when they actively experience it. Active listening can be defined as clapping, singing, tapping, or keeping the beat to music. Further more allowing a child to create his or her own music will prove to be priceless. Passive music participation (listening to music) is also beneficial to a child but does not work to engage and develop neurological pathways as deeply. If you would like your child to experience the benefits of music on early childhood education and development, begin simply.

1. Use any available opportunity to share music with your child. Play music when riding in the car or before bedtime! Researchers say that tones and notes characteristic of jazz and classical music work best to stimulate neurological pathways.

2. Teach your child basic nursery rhymes and songs. The Itsy Bitsy Spider, This Little Piggy Went to Market, and The Wheels on The Bus are nursery rhymes that have accompanying hand motions. The synthesis of music and movement enhances a child’s memory by linking the memorization of words with hand motions. This method also works to strengthen a child’s ability to do more than one thing at a time.

3. An upset child can be comforted by music. Playing certain types of music for a sad or angry child provides stability and repetition as the child learns to cope with new feelings and emotions.

4. Play music for your child then ask he or she to distinguish the different instruments present in the music. This game works to sharpen your child’s divided, shifted, focused, and sustained attention. Each type of attention is crucial to the healthy development and functioning of your child. Divided attention can be defined as performing two or more tasks at once. Shifted attention is moving back and forth between multiple tasks without forgetting the rules and instructions particular to each task. Focused attention is concentrating on one task. Sustained attention is concentrating on one specific task for a long period of time.

The benefits of playing music and encouraging participation in making music can be huge. The developmental, emotional, and educational affects yielded from exposing your child to and encouraging your child toward a musical life are invaluable.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Austin day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.


Paul said...

I am for educating our children, but I am also for parents and taxpayers having a say in how to go about it. If "improving" education means throwing good money after bad this will not solve problems that exist in public education. This has been done previously and we witness the results today.

Rain Trueax said...

So majority rules on what is being taught in schools? If the majority wants it being taught, no matter what it is, it should be done that way? Parents do not always know best but this piece by Kathleen is more about what parents can do and it's about early education before taxpayer funded schools are factors. It is about what 'we can do ourselves and what kind of preschools we might benefit for having our children in.

On the other, No Child Left Behind was a disaster for teachers and teaching but it went through because government wanted it. I still am not sure how the right figured that testing mattered more than learning but they did and yes, the left went along with it. So here we are and I hope we get something new with Obama's proposal because what we have had is not helpful to getting kids really educated at all. Most of all they are not learning logic skills. Gee, wonder who that benefits...

mandt said...

When I went to school, America had the best public schools in the world. When we graduated we knew math, English, science was preeminent, we great art, sports and music programs. Thanks to Reaganomics, America abandoned its excellence to local, parochial dimwits. As a result we line up about 47th among nations. We have lost the future for the majority of young Americans. Excellent post Rain.

Darlene said...

Music has always been a big part in my home. When I was a child my grandmother played the classic and taught music to students. When I was a mother I sang to my children and bought records for them. They both had music lessons and my son became a professional musician. Now my daughter's youngest is learning the flute. One generation teaches the next.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

The whole "public education" thing is constantly in flux and though I theoretically believe in public education (my own education was all public), for 20 years I have worked in a private school where basic curriculum is laced with all of the arts, sports, outdoor ed, community service, etc. Unfortunately, an average family cannot afford this kind of education.

So, it goes back to home. I love your concept about music--and in raising my own kids with my husband, we did try to introduce a little bit of everything. They were in parochial school when class sizes were astronomical, but they did get good educations in spite of it. Some would say we were too permissive, I suppose, but heck. What did we know? We are just fortunate that mostly our kids have had good lives and they give back to the community.

I love reading about all the different theories of public education. Most of us want our kids to be the best people they can be and are willing to do almost anything to make that happen. You always make me think.