One of our Early Childhood Specialists, Amanda Forrest, tells us of her recent visit to Warrington Day Nursery and Preschool and what they’ve been doing to encourage musicality, along with a few ideas to try at home…
Young children have an innate ability to express music in their own unique way and the years from birth to 5 are a key time for a child’s musical development. Providing opportunities for even the youngest children to listen to the tones of music and differences in frequency and melody builds up mental faculties to memorise music. This means that, like language development, children develop their musical skills through imitating and memorising rhythms and tones of songs, such as clapping to a beat and singing in tune.
Our Bright Beginnings Curriculum has a clear and defined music focus, supporting children to work towards key statutory Early Learning goals:
Warrington Nursery has undertaken this challenge with enthusiasm and pride, and the experiences and engagement of the children is clearly visible.
The staff team started small with just a few instruments and some favourite rhymes but it was obvious that the staff, children and parents were highly inspired and the focus quickly grew. On my visit, the children were eager for me to join in their brass marching band, and I found myself playing a rousing rendition of ‘The Floral Dance’.
Paula Horne, the Room Leader, observed one of the children coming into nursery singing Taylor Swift, ‘Shake it Off ’, shaking his hands and stamping his feet all in time to the tempo. Paula was impressed with his rhythm and complexity of the understanding of the child’s knowledge of music. This sparked the interest of the wider team, who then set up a home learning questionnaire to understand the music listened to at home by the children and also that of parents. Unsurprisingly there was an eclectic range, from classical and pop, to jazz, funk and country and western.
Nichola Griffin, Nursery Manager commented: “It was clear the children listened to a diverse range of music at home and from this the staff team were able to create an amazing music area. Learning about different types of music, instruments and working in partnership with parents has been fantastic!"
Following on from this, the staff and parents brought instruments in from home. These included a guitar and violin, which enabled the children to clearly understand the importance of resting the violin on the chin rest – as they moved the bow back and forth. The concentration and engagement levels of such young children, with the support of the outstanding key persons who truly know these children, was incredible to see.
Nichola said: “It started off as a small pedagogical focus and quickly grew into an inspirational focus involving lots of different aspects of music, embedding the Bright Beginnings curriculum and fundamentally following the children's interests.
At Bright Horizons our teams value and understand the importance of parent partnerships. To further develop this, our staff set a home learning task for parents and children to make their own instruments. We recognise that parents love a bit of competition and the parents at Warrington didn’t let us down! The entries included a xylophone made from drinks cans (not the most conventional, but an amazing sound - and Health and Safety can be reassured, all sharp edges were covered!), a guitar made from cardboard boxes and elastic bands in bright pink (as requested by one of the children), various shakers, drums and rain-sticks!”
Parent of Ava-Grace commented: “We very much enjoyed making the ‘Kronenburg’ xylophone as we call it! It was great to get our hands stuck into crafts and it makes you think about what you can make with the very basics.”
In summary, it was a truly inspirational experience at Bright Horizons Warrington.
Home Learning Ideas
“If Music is the food of love, then play on.” William Shakespeare