Sunday, February 5, 2012
The Power of Kindermusik For Children with Special Needs
For Children with Special Needs
Did you know that Kindermusik has long been an integral factor in the development of children with special needs? More and more therapists are finding that the Kindermusik curricula are highly effective in fostering growth and development in children facing the challenges of autism, Down syndrome, physical handicaps and language and social delays.
Kindermusik is the world leader in music and movement programs for children ages newborn to seven years old. The core belief of the Kindermusik approach is that all children are musical and that the parent is the child's first and most important teacher. Its proven methodology is built on the music education philosophies of Orff, Kodaly, Laban and Dalcroze combined with the work of early childhood experts like Piaget, Vygotsky, Montessori, Greenspan, and Brazelton.
The Kindermusik approach is:
* developmentally appropriate
* concerned with the healthy development of the whole child
* process-based, not performance-focused
* fun for the child and for the entire family
*inclusive of the parents; parents are not left out of their child's education
* carried out using the highest quality music, reading and learning materials created exclusively for the Kindermusik educator and family
The goal of Kindermusik is to enrich lives through the power of music with emphasis on the process and benefits of music making rather than rewarding a polished performer.
Every class offers a delightful mix of songs and activities, while each lesson is also thoughtfully designed to nurture specific learning and developmental goals. Kindermusik reflects the growing body of evidence that tells us music is a strong catalyst for children's learning, especially in the critical early years. Each lesson moves at the child's pace, pausing to engage his interests, nurture his gifts and celebrate his discoveries. It is inclusive, implying full involvement in community activities of persons with disabilities, with the support necessary for this involvement to be successful.
How does this apply to the child with special needs?
For the child, the Kindermusik classroom environment celebrates the individuality of each child, providing a safe and nurturing setting that is respectful of children's developmental stages and invites them to explore, learn, grow, and contribute with their families. Each child, no matter the developmental stage, is allowed to flourish in an environment balanced between educator direction, guidance, and responsiveness. Most of all, it is engaging, imaginative and delightfully fun!
Another aspect of the Kindermusik program that is especially important for the child with special needs is its multi-modal, multi-sensory design. Music is, by its very nature, intrinsically multisensory, involving the hearing and kinesthetic senses, even in the earliest stages. Not only does Kindermusik involve music and movement, but it also includes enrichment such as stories, pictures, creative movement, and a variety of interesting objects as part of music-making and music-hearing activities that draw children into interaction no matter what the preferred learning style or mode might be.
Yet another important feature of Kindermusik is the thoughtful and careful way that the emotional and social development of each child is encouraged to grow. Relationships among all the class participants, but especially the caregiver and the child, are supported from the very first class. Children can't fail at any of the activities in a Kindermusik lesson. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the joy and pleasure of music, on the sharing of this joy with one's caregiver and peers. The support for a child's self-esteem built into this particular approach makes it particularly appropriate for children and families who face psychosocial stresses and difficulties each day, dealing with the specific special needs of each specific child and his or her family.
For the parent, the Kindermusik curricula is concerned with nurturing and developing the whole child, viewing the parent as an important partner in this work. In Kindermusik Village™, Our Time™, and Imagine That™, Kindermusik Foundations of Learning (FOL's) serve as the link to involving parents by educating them about how activities in the classroom and in the At Home Materials stimulate different domains of their child's total development. While enjoying the fun and discovery of music and movement, parents come to understand how their children's physical, cognitive, social, emotional, language and musical development are nurtured in unique and age-appropriate ways. The flexibility and individualization in the curricula and each of the activities allow the educator and the parent to collaborate to provide the child with special needs with just the right support to be a successful part of the group.
Education of the parent takes place in the classroom and within the At Home materials with the inclusion of Kindermusik Foundations of Learningwhich are statements that explain how activities embody developmentally appropriate practice for the child. Each FOL statement clearly communicates the learning taking place and explains the benefits of the activity with respect to the child's physical, cognitive, social, emotional, language, and musical development. Because Kindermusik includes parents in all of the activities for the younger children and a careful selection of the activities for older children, in a planned and developmentally appropriate manner, the support for the child with special needs is inherently built in.
What about specific learning disabilities?
Some areas of specific developmental challenge seem to gain particular benefit from Kindermusik. One area is that of cognitive challenge. Children with Downs Syndrome and other cognitive, developmentally challenged conditions may demonstrate relative strength in music appreciation, and use these same musical activities as a springboard to successfully explore related skills, such as imitation, cause and effect relationships, and listening to new sounds that can then stimulate language development.
Similarly, children with motor disabilities such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida may find it difficult to participate in many community-based activities for young children, due to the focus on developing excellence in motor skills. In a Kindermusik classroom, the motor activities that are included are a part of a curricula that is almost always accessible even to children with motor restrictions. Some examples are beating on a hand drum, waving a scarf, shaking a rhythm instrument, even dancing that can easily be tailored to the individual child. Any or all of these can easily be adapted for these children.
For those children who have complex and multifaceted disabilities such as autistic spectrum disorders, such skills as turn-taking, group responses, tolerating and enjoying varied sensory inputs, and exploring new sounds and textures may be facilitated by the Kindermusik program, with its appealing materials and activities, as well as its combination of structure and predictability with flexibility.