Rejuvenate Together – Through MusicWednesday December 6, 2017
Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland and Frosty – these are just samples of the popular songs you’ll hear this time of year (for better or for worse!). The holidays are filled with beautiful sounds (and sights) that make this time unlike any other. And a much-needed break from work, however brief, gives us an opportunity to rest and enjoy the simple things that fill our lives – family, friends, meals and traditions.
Our children are also taking a well-deserved break from their own routine. However, the sudden lack of structure can often be a difficult adjustment for children and families alike. The increased time with your child can be a wonderful opportunity to find new ways to play together, that rejuvenate you both! Music is one of the most simple and ideal ways to achieve this.
Because music is time-structured – providing a concrete beginning and end to an experience – it can make a simple play experience with your child easier to process and engage in. Because music is nonverbal, it can be a refreshing communicative experience for families of children who have speech and language differences. And, because music is repetitive and engaging, it can help soothe anxieties and stress that are all-too-prevalent for many of us this time of year. Music is also adaptable, which means it can change right along with your child’s state or behavior.
Here are 7 simple suggestions to connect and refresh in play with your child through music:
- Most obviously, turn on the music, and sing or dance! At home or in the car, there’s a plethora of holiday music that can meet everyone’s needs, whether it be energizing or calming sounds. Try singing on a syllable (like “la” or “doo”), humming along or playing on a kazoo instead of words. Imitate your child’s dance moves - bring your absolute silliest!
- Play a musical game. Try freeze dance, where everyone stops when the music stops. Form a follow-the-leader conga line and make your way through the house. Pass the ball (or the doll) to the beat. For older kids, try “Can you Guess that Holiday Tune?” as you hum examples.
- Get out the instruments and play. If you don’t have any instruments at home, try using a kitchen pot as a drum, or make some shakers with rice and an empty water bottle. Pick one or two songs and dedicate them as ‘drum songs’ or ‘shaker songs’ throughout the break.
- Add music to your routines. It’s helpful to sing a lullaby (turn any song into a lullaby by changing the words to “loo” and singing softly/slowly) as a routine at bedtime to slow down, or to wake up and say “good morning!” If getting dressed is hard, try letting your child pick a different holiday song each morning to get dressed to (have them put all clothes on before the song ends).
- Make errands and non-routine events musical. While grocery shopping, try gently tapping (on your child’s leg or head) and saying/singing the name of each item as you place it in the cart. If you’re introducing new foods at mealtime, try finding a few songs on YouTube about that food (you’d be surprised), and listen to it together well in advance.
- Find a musical storybook. Music can make reading books together more engaging for the restless learner.
A few suggestions for the holiday hustle and bustle:
- The Journey Home from Grandpa’s
- Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
- Going on a Train
- What a Wonderful World
- Wheels on the Bus
- Take Me Home
- Country Roads
- The Night Before Christmas, for a classic book you can read with its natural rhyme and rhythm.
- If you have time, attend a live music performance event together. There are often free events at churches, libraries and museums this time of year. Some restaurants offer live music on certain nights of the week. Or find a local performance of The Nutcracker ballet. If you can’t go out, choose this to watch on TV instead of your next movie.
However you find music in your life this month, may you enjoy sharing it with your child!