September 11, 2023 By Rachel White
Raising two babies during the COVID years was challenging. When the world began to reopen, those babies transitioned into toddlerhood – after limited socialization. That was even more problematic! Guiding them through this transition tested me personally as a mom, but also reinforced everything I knew professionally as Director of Early Childhood Education at South Shore Conservatory (SSC).
We integrate music and the arts into all SSC’s early childhood programs for two main reasons: for simple enjoyment and to maximize student learning through strengthening the brain’s executive functions. Music ignites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness, particularly in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. In addition to providing a means of self-expression, it exposes children to challenges and multi-sensory experiences which enhance learning abilities and encourage cognitive development. Cognitive functions, such as planning, working memory, inhibition, and flexibility are all engaged when a child is participating in music. What parent doesn’t want their toddler to develop flexibility?
A few years ago, an SSC PreK parent came to tell me how thankful they are for the song “Who Let the Dogs Out” by the Baha Men… and not because of its catchiness or because it brought back fond memories of Spring Break 2001. It goes deeper. Her child had been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and transitions had been a nightmare. At school at SSC, our teachers use music to signal certain tasks or transitions, and in this case, “Who Let the Dogs Out” meant it was clean-up time. This parent shared that this also translated to clean-up time at home. By adding music to signal different transitions, they were experiencing success and achieving milestones.
While music plays an important role in meeting a child’s educational needs let’s not forget about that enjoyment component either. Music and the arts are exciting! They captivate us and teach us at a very young age that learning is fun, and there are many ways to learn. We recognize that every child is different, and we celebrate those differences at SSC.
As my three-year old child drums syllables of words on the table at home during dinner – “spa- ghett-i – and – meat-balls!” – I see the cognitive benefits of music at work. I have the honor of watching hundreds of children make similar connections each and every day at SSC with the children who take advantage of wide variety of Early Childhood programs, starting with Music Together® for newborns, Creative Movement, Keys and Sticks, FUNdamentals classes in piano, singing, and ukulele, Hip Hop, Music in Motion, and many more for children as they grow. We tailor our classes to meet the individual needs of each child, discovering the way they learn best.
South Shore Conservatory’s Early Childhood classes are enrolling now for the fall semester. Learn more at https://sscmusic.org/group-classes/ or find South Shore Conservatory on on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
This piece is sponsored by South Shore Conservatory. We are grateful to them for supporting local journalism in our community!