Families in our area have long realised the benefits to their children of regular organised music sessions – Boogie Bugs early years music has been part of the weekly scheduled activities in the lives of countless families all over Donegal & Derry through public classes, classes in preschools and community projects.
In a study conducted by Bright Horizons, elementary school teachers shared their views on what they believe to be the most important school readiness factors for any child to succeed in a public or private school setting:
- Basic understanding of language and math concepts
- Social readiness
- Emotional preparedness
Teachers were unified in their feeling that children should enter their first years of school with an ability to comprehend broader language and math concepts, as well as to be prepared for the social and emotional demands of school.
This is not lost on early years music facilitators, in fact a local Primary school principal informed me that they can readily notice accelerated literacy, social skills and learning ability in children who have regular music in their lives either at home or in their preschool setting. They are ‘school ready’ in a broader range of areas than their counterparts who have not had a regular musical experience at the same age. Children love modern music too, and it certainly has an important place in their lives but in terms of social & educational benefits – simple, easily learned, carefully planned music and music exercises makes real and lasting impact on the progress of children in their early years journey.
At Boogie Bugs music, we regularly see improvement in so many areas including the ability to share, to wait, to take turns, to collaborate and work together. To learn spatial awareness, motor skills, to learn social skills like greeting (hello/goodbye), to look out for each other, to practice making and keeping a beat, to use a variety of instruments, to enjoy sensory activities – all these are easily accessible in the form of early years music sessions and of course there is the sheer enjoyment that children get from music and dance. Our sessions are often the children’s first and only experience of live music. They have access throughout the year to hear or try a range of instruments including guitar, ukulele, fiddle, whistle, and a wide range of children’s percussion and instruments gathered from around the world.
I write music for children too, so I’ve been able to add songs over the years that I felt might support their learning, whether it’s colours or numbers or animals or gaining the confidence to speak out during a song or activity. For example, I noticed in many settings that younger children might struggle with the confidence to suggest an animal themselves when we sing ‘Old McDonald’, so I created a different song ‘Walking ‘round the Farm’ – where I make the animal noise and the children answer which animal made the noise. The difference seems small, but it really works in the group – answering a clear question, rather than making an unprompted suggestion.
There is a loose structure to the sessions I run both in our public class, and in Preschools, but using a variety of instruments, seasonal and repeated songs and sensory tools, the structure is not readily perceptible to the children. We start out singing a familiar Hello Song, and often move to a song that will require us to take part in some way. This exercise strengthens the children’s bond with the music and the session, as well as building trust each other and myself. One such song is our ‘Hands Up’ song, which goes through healthy and unhealthy food choices in a fun way. ‘Hands up if you like bananas………etc’ and ‘Hands up if you like chocolate, hands up if you like ice cream, hands up if you like sweeties, but are they good for you?’ By taking an active role in the song – they have ownership of it, and the information in contains.
We have great action songs to keep everybody moving. They contain instructions that must be followed and that are easy to achieve, and fun to dance to. Then we move on to activities such as instruments or rainbow ribbons or parachute games and some bubbles. Because of space and facilities, our public class also includes stage and microphone time and more physical games like using hula hoops to encourage movement further. We don’t push too hard for public performances at this age though – there’s plenty of time for that. At this stage the social benefits and growing confident in their own space and abilities is a much more important goal.
Our public class for Boogie Bugs is in Buncrana on Wednesday evenings 4-5pm and places must be booked. There’s so much to learn and see and in our music class, and because Boogie Bugs is part of The Music Box school, many of our wee Boogie Bugs graduate to our singing groups or guitar classes. We have former Boogie Bugs that are now teenagers and still coming to our Senior singing class and our guitar group too!
Boogie Bugs Music Facilitator
Facebook: Boogie Bugs Music OR The Music Box