Children in the Early Years learn from the relationships they build with family, friends, educators and the environment. That is why it is so important to offer them opportunities in different contexts: exploring a range of materials, being in contact with nature, and playing with other children. And also listening. Children are very curious about the sounds around them, and Music learning at this age is concerned with sensitising their ears to sounds in general: from the sound of animals to instruments from other cultures.
Music is an essential part of “Expressive Arts and Design”, one of the seven areas of the early childhood development curriculum. The main objective of teaching Music to EYFS children is to offer opportunities to develop their listening skills, and also to teach them to express their feelings through music. Children can sing songs from around the world, listen to different kinds of music (important: not only ‘kids songs’), explore the sounds of objects and a range of different instruments. They should also explore the sounds they can make using their bodies and voices.
But as a parent, how can you encourage your children to have musical experiences at home? Let’s start by talking about this child, 0 to 5 years old.
They are human beings, who are enjoying their first time experimenting with the world around them. Everything ignites curiosity: the movement of their own hands and feet, the colours and textures of leaves in a park, and the sound of a spoon hitting the plate.
There are two educational approaches that inspire my thinking about Music in Early Years: Montessori and Reggio Emilia. I also believe that as a parent, those ideas help me to find ways of encouraging children to play at home.
In the book “The Montessori Approach to Music”, the purpose is based upon the understanding that young children learn first through their experiences and senses. We at once engage the ear, the eye, the voice, the hand, the body, and the soul of the child – the whole of the child is actively involved in the entire musical experience.
Enabling the environment
Reggio Emilia is one of the cities in Italy which suffered a lot during World War II. An educator called Loris Malaguzzi, together with parents desiring to bring about change and a new way to educate, developed a child-centred approach, believing that children have “100 languages” and should be given opportunities to develop their potential. In the Reggio Emilia approach, the environment is considered an educator, and this is something to highlight when talking about Music for young children.
It is important to provide a space at home with sound ‘provocations’, things that will grab children's attention. This will be much more effective for their learning and relationship with Music than just sitting down next to them and talking about how they should or should not make sound.
Tips to create a musical environment at home
Playlists and channels that will make children interested in exploring Music:
As they grow up, they build connections with sound, and as parents and educators, we keep encouraging and allowing them to be creative and hopefully we will be planting a musical seed in their hearts to be developed in the future.