A wise friend once told me that I needed to make time to follow my son's lead.
Well, I actually should know this. I am a Music Together teacher and an Early Childhood Specialist certificated through the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association. I enjoy teaching infants, toddlers, and preschoolers the wonders of music in a warm non-performance oriented class. In fact, in our Music Together classes, I often ask of a child's suggestion of what other ways we can make use of the rhythm sticks or egg shakers, or I ask grown-ups to make modifications to their own movements, encouraging them to "follow their child's lead".
I wish I had the answer to having time enough to stop and play, other than to just do it and make time. There are always time saving ideas out there, and some really helpful ones, but it does really boil down to the fact that I have the same 24-hours a day as you. Play is so important to make time for, especially because I have found, and research supports, that it is one of the most effective ways a child learns - plus, it's super fun.
Music is an accessible way to play while learning and gaining so much. And the beauty is, #1 - you don't need to be musical to do it, and #2 - it's interdisciplinary and doesn't take more time. Use lullabies when you are soothing your child to sleep, sing songs during transitions such as washing hands and putting on shoes while using inflections in your voice to make it especially interesting, make music in the car - it's a great way to interact with children without taking your attention off of the road. Need more proof than the ABC song that children learn through music?
Best Beginnings published The Five Areas of Child Development on their website, so I'll briefly state how music supports each area:
1. Physical Health, Well-Being, and Movement Skills - music lends itself to movement, from finger play to large movement activities.
2. Social/Emotional Development - Songs of different tonalities (sounds), dynamics and content can evoke emotions, or can tell stories and teach us about our communities.
3. Approaches to Learning - Musical play is fun! It doesn't have rules or objective outcome, allowing everyone to respond organically to the music.
4. Thinking Abilities and General Knowledge - Many songs have sequencing or phrasing, and children's music especially asks questions for children to respond.
5. Communication, Language, Literacy - Verse variations and making up songs together and associating it with pictures acquaints children with books and familiarizes children with words.
Try it and see....
Here's some suggestions for the "Itsy Bitsy Spider":
- Use interesting inflections in your voice, pause to create anticipation, or play around with accents (I always try Southern accents or English accents)
- Develop fine motor skills by trying to make your finger spider climb different ways
- Develop gross motor skills by becoming the spider and crawling around the room
- Make up your own words, substituting "itsy bitsy" with "the big and hairy spider" or "the quick and nimble spider"
- Make up your own variations, telling a story about what you are doing, and modeling it: "Big mommy spider came in the house today, down came the zipper of her coat to play, up came her child to give her/his mommy a hug, and the big mommy spider played with (child's name) again"
- The sillier the better - don't worry, you are at home, making time for play, enjoying your child all while they are learning and gaining so much.