by Heather Overly, music therapist
I have seen music transform lives! I believe music can help parents teach, and provide a fun and loving environment at home.
1. Music provides a fun way of bonding with your children of all ages. Infants love to be sung to. They also enjoy swaying and dancing with you to music.
2.Music can be a great distraction when you are in a long line. Sing a favorite song; even do actions. You may get some looks, but it beats the looks you get when your toddler has a meltdown.
3. Have a theme song for your child. This song is unique to them and will often include their name. This may be a very simple song, but powerful in helping them see they are unique and loved.
4. “Read” musical stories to your children. Check out the “Raffi” story books and “Pete the Cat” books. This will encourage literacy in your child.
5. Play good quality music in the home. Think of it as musical wallpaper, it doesn’t have to be loud, just background music. Studies show playing Classical music helps us retain information when we are studying.
6. Play music in your home to help set the mood for the activities you are engaged in (like cleaning or settling down for naps). Be aware of how the music is affecting the atmosphere in your home. When it’s time to settle down, be sure to change it or lower the volume. If I have to clean or mow the lawn sometimes the only way I can do it is if I have some good tunes to rock out to.
7. Sing to your children. They love to hear your voice (even if you don’t think you are a singer). Start with singing a lullaby before bed.
8. Sing while you are traveling in the car. You can teach some of your favorite camp songs or songs you learned from your parents. This will create fun memories and to help pass time.
9. Encourage your children to study music with a private teacher. The skills they learn when they are young will stay with them forever and will even help them achieve at school.
10. If your child has trouble sleeping, use calm, quiet music to help entrain sleep.
11. Use music to reinforce studies. My daughter was having trouble learning multiplication. Once we started learning facts to songs it became easier for her.
12. Music can help you relax. Use it for yourself in stressful times.
13. Instead of using a timer, sometimes we use our 10-minute pickup playlist. I let the kids help pick the songs and we put enough songs to equal about 10 minutes. When the music starts, the kids all help picking up the house. When it’s done they can stop.
14. Take a music class together. It helps give you time to focus on your child without distraction. There are several “parent and me” classes in the valley to enroll in with your young child.
15. Have fun making music together. If you or your spouse play an instrument, don’t be afraid to get it out and share it with your child.
16. For very young children, it helps to have a song to sing while changing diapers, before naps, while preparing for bed, during bath time, while eating, etc. Children will learn to recognize these and it will help them understand the structure of their day.
17. If you want your children to study music, let them catch you practicing your instrument. Also, have regular recitals to boast their performance experience and confidence. We have Sunday recitals together and sometimes invite friends or family to join us.
18. If you need to gather the family for dinner or other events, consider starting with a song to let everyone know it’s time to begin. We like to start our day with a hymn before scripture study.
19. Get familiar with NPR and KUED musical broadcasts and find your favorite programs. I love the Celtic Woman, Prairie Home Companion and E-town.
20. Go to live concerts and local musical performances. This is a great way to expose your children to a variety of music and learn to be respectful audience members.
Heather Overly is a mother of four. She is also a music therapist who enjoys teaching preschool in her home, music classes at Smithfield Recreation Center and private music therapy clients.