It’s still the peak of summer, and a lovely, sticky 98 degrees outside in NYC, but you have probably been wondering what your fall is going to look like. It’s not an easy question. Will you be homeschooling? Pod-schooling? Braving the boots-on-the-ground schooling? The uncertainty around the fall and what we are all supposed to do in order to remain safe while still investing in our children and making sure they are supported and educated is, frankly, maddening. But whatever the fall holds for you and your kids, one thing IS certain: music should be a part of your lives.
We may sound like a broken record (pun intended) when we say that music boosts intelligence, but it’s true! In one of our previous blog posts from across the rubicon of the coronavirus, “Music & Literacy: Parallel Intelligences,” we cite Northwestern University audiology professor Nina Kraus, who says that “music automatically sharpens the nervous system’s response to sounds,” so it primes children’s brains to distinguish between sounds, a key step in learning how to read. Kraus also found that “learning music improves the concentration, memory and focus of children in the classroom by improving their neural functions.”
Of course music and early childhood education have long gone together. If you have a toddler, you can definitely designate a time every day to sing through all the songs you both love; to incorporate songs into activities like clean-up time; and to practice some rhythm work and instrument-making with every-day household objects. Check out Kinderart.com for some fun ideas—including a homemade didgeridoo!
But what about for slightly older kids? Music and elementary or middle school don’t always mix as intuitively. So how do you get all the amazing memory-boosting, language- and reasoning-developing, coordination-enhancing, and social-skills-building that come with incorporating music into a child’s education—not to mention the fun and whimsy—while you’re home-schooling or pod-schooling and/or working full-time?
First of all, sign your child AND yourself up for private, virtual music lessons with Musication! You knew that was coming. But in all seriousness, we know that scheduled, distinct activities are helpful to have during this amorphous time and a weekly or twice-weekly lesson with a music teacher could be just the thing to provide a bit of structure and take the onus off of YOU the parent to come up with activities. In addition, if you decide to take lessons with your child—which, if you didn’t know, Musication teaches adults too!—you will have the added satisfaction and joy of learning something together, at the same time as your child, which will make it all the more meaningful.
But that’s not the only option—although one of the best, in our opinion. You’ll definitely want to check out HomeschoolNYC.com, which offers an encyclopedic array of great tips for parents about homeschooling in general. Click over to the Music page, and you’ll find links to tons of free worksheets, lesson plans, songs, instrument-making ideas, and music theory information, including from Berklee Shares, from the Berklee College of Music, which offers free lessons you can download.
Like so much right now, all this may be overwhelming—especially if you’re not musical yourself! But if you are willing to do it, committing to actually learning an instrument with your child, or teaching yourselves a song, or discovering how to read music together–all these things can have profound positive impacts on your child’s education and academic and social aptitude. According to research cited by the American Psychological Association, parent engagement in a child’s education has a positive impact on things like school attendance and leads to higher grades and test scores. It has also been linked to protective factors for adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and to a decreased likelihood of students becoming involved in substance abuse, violence, and other problem behaviors that are associated with HIV and STD risk. If you’re not only engaged but also learning at the same time as your child, imagine all the benefits both of you will reap.