We have lots to say about the importance of what we do...
It takes a village to raise a child with good literacy skills, and educators certainly play a big role in enhancing these skills. However, the UNESCO's International Institute for Educational Planning points out that children’s literacy skills improve when their parents are involved in their learning process. Kids are more likely to develop language skills and other core competencies, especially when their parents guide them every step of the way.
So if you want to support the literacy development of your little one, here are some useful tips you can follow:
Introduce books to your kid at a young age
You may have heard this already, but it’s a must for parents to read stories to their kids every day. Our article on Enhancing Early Literacy Skills emphasizes that the earlier you introduce books to your child’s life, the sooner that they will develop their early literacy skills. Over time, you’ll notice that your child will join the reading process by doing eye tracking over the page or even pointing at the same words. When they get old enough, they’ll even give comments or ask questions about the story itself.
So while your child is still young, make reading a nightly activity for the both of you.
Encourage your little one to draw images
Believe it or not, drawing can actually improve your kid’s ability to communicate! Maryville University’s post on literacy development lists drawing as a fun exercise that lays the foundation for early writing skills and creative thinking. While those little scribbles may seem abstract, it is crucial in helping kids develop the motor skills they need for writing. You can further engage your kids by getting them to describe their scribbles to improve their ability to communicate ideas.
They can further develop their talents through our Messy Hands & Preschool Artists class. This class will be a great opportunity for your kid to express themselves through art and communication.
Keep it entertaining with the help of music
Much like art, music is an unexpected yet effective strategy that can help boost your kid’s literacy development. Researchers from Harvard University discovered that plenty of preschool teachers use music to increase various literacy skills. To illustrate, listening to songs can enhance your kid’s visual-auditory mapping, speech processing, and vocabulary development. The good news is that you can simply play a song with good lyrics to help your child expand their vocabulary.
To make your music sessions more effective, you can sign up your infant or toddler on our Rock-a-Baby Music program. The curriculum for this class was made by NYU-trained music educator, Marc Trachteberg, making it effective in developing your kid's rhythmic abilities and interactive skills. Music also happens to be useful for kids with diverse needs, which is why we offer an Adaptive Music and Dance Program. This program uses songs and movements to encourage the development of communication skills in kids with developmental delays, an autism spectrum disorder, and sensory integration issues.
Boost their literacy skills through games
Kids love to play games, which is why it’s not surprising that the University of Jyväskylä and Carleton University cite games as an effective home literacy activity for kids. Their study highlighted that kids who play rhyming games with their parents were more likely to show interest in the alphabet and words at a young age.
For starters, you can play a rhyming game by stating a simple word like ‘dog’ and asking your kid to match it with a word that rhymes with it. You can also try to play the game ‘I spy’ as a way to introduce letters or even adjectives.
There are plenty of fun and easy ways to boost your kid's literacy development. By fostering their ability to communicate at home, your kid will have a good educational foundation once they start taking classes.
Article written especially for littlebeatstda.com
By Alicia Theodore
Celebrating Love and Kindness
February is known as the month of love. Hearts and candy. Flowers and cards. It seems that everywhere you look there’s a symbol of love, but Valentine’s Day is more than romance and goodies. It is about celebrating the power of love and connection, friendship and kindness. Here is a list of activities to do with your child to celebrate love all month long!
1. Gratitude List-Create a list of people/animals that you’re grateful for. How do these people bring joy into your life? How do you feel when you spend time with them? What are some of your favorite memories?
2. Acts of kindness-Just like the popular quote, “It’s cool to be kind” remember to lead with kindness. Give a compliment, say hello, share a snack, help your grown up, friend, sibling, or teacher. Random acts of kindness go a long way. For a fun song/video check out Kindness is a Muscle on YouTube.
3. Practice Self Love. Say 3 nice things about yourself in the mirror. I am ______ (kind, friendly, brave, helpful, smart). “I am” are 2 of the most powerful words that can shape a person’s mindset. Our thoughts become our reality so focus on the positive!
4. Community Cards- Making valentines for friends and family is a special way to celebrate! This simple craft idea expands beyond your child’s inner circle of family, friends, classmates and into the community. Cut out paper hearts from construction paper and on the front write “Thank you for all you do” and on the back “We appreciate you!” Have your child decorate the hearts with stencils, glitter, markers, stickers-get creative! Once the cards are completed pick a day to deliver them to members in the community (first responders, librarian, cashier, mailman, store clerk, etc.) This simple craft will bring so much joy to its recipients! One of our favorite books, The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond is a great book to pair with this activity.
5. Yoga -These simple poses open the heart chakra (chest) to invite in light and love. The book I am Love: A Book of Compassion (I Am Books) by Peter H Reynolds is a great companion to this activity. The book talks about the meaning of love and kindness.
We hope you enjoy celebrating this special day with your loved ones. WE LOVE YOU!!! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Starting an adaptive dance program for children with diverse needs has always been part of the larger plan at TDA & Little Beats. We believe that dance and movement have the power to heal, inspire and help every person grow! We wanted to be intentional and knew that we needed an experienced person with a particular set of skills to get this program going the "right" way. Last year the stars aligned and we found Holly! We are excited to announce that beginning Fall 2021, Holly will be starting a special new Adaptive Music and Dance program at Little Beats! This program is for children with developmental delays, autism spectrum disorder, and sensory integration challenges. We hope to extend this program to older children over the course of the next year. Hear from Holly about her background and why she is the perfect girl for this job.
Dear Little Beats community,
My name is Holly Olson. I started singing and dancing when I was a baby and never stopped! Music, movement, and art were always the creative outlets that I was thankful to have to be able to express myself. As I grew older, I realized that my passion for the arts were matched only by my passion for working with young kids, and children with special needs. After completing my undergraduate studies in psychology, music, and rehabilitation services, I went on to pursue my Master’s in Expressive Arts Therapy with the hope of sharing the therapeutic benefits of the arts to children and families.
During my Master’s program, I took a wonderful class on Dance/Movement Therapy with children, where I learned about Rainbowdance from the founder herself, Dicki Johnson Macy. I instantly fell in love with this program and became a certified instructor in both their toddler and preschool curriculums. During my first graduate internship at Eliot Early Intervention, I led their weekly Rainbowdance group and saw first-hand the amazing impact that providing a safe, caring, and non-judgmental environment can have.
We are so excited to kick off our adaptive dance program with Rainbowdance! Rainbowdance is a dance therapy program for young children with diverse needs. Through simple songs, movements, and rhythms, Rainbowdance encourages the development of:
I can't wait to enrich the lives of even more children at Little Beats and I'm so proud to be at the forefront of this exciting new chapter.
Unsure if Rainbowdance is right for your child? Miss Holly would be more than happy to chat with you to learn more about your child’s goals, strengths, and challenges. Reach out to Holly directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Messy Hands is an art class for babies, tykes and tots to encourage the exploration of sensory art materials. This class is all about allowing your child to create, explore and express themselves through art! While your child is busy playing, they will be practicing important fine motor, cognitive and social skills. Not only will your child have a great time getting messy, but they will also be experiencing many developmental benefits.
Benefits of sensory play:
Art provides children the invitation for non-verbal self-expression and communication. Art experiences also stimulate the senses and the brain, creating connections and wiring for future successful learning! With little ones, it’s all about the creative PROCESS, and allowing the child to manipulate, experience, and have an effect on the materials, rather than producing a final product. Making a mess is the result of creativity, learning and exploration - we will set up a space where children can be free to create and get messy in a safe and encouraging environment. Come play, sing, dance, and create with us!
Books about emotions are everywhere, but we LOVE Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis. This story stands out because it normalizes the range of emotions we feel as humans. When we are able to label a feeling it opens up the opportunity to regulate ourselves and move forward in our day. Fostering emotional intelligence is important starting at an early age, so that children can develop a robust vocabulary to communicate the way they are feeling. Emotional vocabulary goes beyond classifying feelings as good and bad or negative and positive.
Children’s literature has the power to open up important conversations with your child in a low-pressure way. While reading this story, pause to see if your child would like to share a time where they felt a certain way. You can give your own examples too! Another way you can support your child’s emotional vocabulary is to label your own emotions throughout the day. For example “I am feeling frustrated because I lost my car keys”. Remember: it’s important for your child to know that you feel a range of emotions. This will help them feel better honoring the way they are feeling at any given moment!
In this video, Holly presents an activity that helps to develop the vestibular system. The vestibular system is where all sensory and spatial information is passed through. While caregiver moves baby through a variety of motions, the vestibular system processes sensory input and allows the baby to regulate and make sense of the world around them.
A strong vestibular system will help your baby with balance and spatial awareness. Just a simple up and down movement will create a reaction in their body and show that not all movements are linear.
Have an older child!? They are still working on the development of their vestibular system. If you have ever wondered why your child might like to hang upside down or spin around in circles until they are too dizzy to stand, the vestibular system is your answer! Other ways you could help develop this system in your baby or toddler is by rocking them back and forth, sliding down a slide with them, or even creating an obstacle course that focuses on balance.
One of the greatest ways for a child to learn is through play. This freeze dance game is an amazing way to teach different gross motor skills, along with fostering your child's imagination. After dancing along to this song, extend the activity by pretending to be different animals. Your child can take the lead or you can offer suggestions. If you have animal toys at home, it might be fun to put them in a box, pick them out one by one and act them out together!
It is important to create a safe space for your child to use their own imagination. This will not only help them apply their creativity in different settings but it will also strengthen their social skills. By using imaginative play, you can create scenarios that a child might not be able to experience in their everyday life (especially during a pandemic). Playing out different scenarios will help them be creative with their problem solving skills. Whether they are playing with their friends or just you, it is an essential part of growth and development.
Remember what might seem silly to you, seems fun to them! Encouraging imaginative play will help your child grow into a more confident and creative person with good social skills and awareness of different situations!
What is audiation?
Have you ever got a song stuck in your head and you just can’t get rid of it? The ability to do this when no music is actually present is called audiation. Audiation is an acquired skill and introducing it to children at a young age is quite beneficial. Audiation increases memory development and assists children in finding pitch. It may also help children learn to read in their head when the time comes!
When you notice your child begin to independently create music (either with their voice or with instruments) they are starting to audiate, but there are some steps that you will need to take to get your child to this point. These activities include:
Get curious! Think about new ways to interact with music and your child will be audiating in no time!
Sometimes the idea of being a novice gets in the way of us trying something new! For new adult participants in our studio classes, it can feel daunting to dance alongside their child in front of a group of adults. Though it may feel a bit awkward and strange, dancing with your baby has so many benefits and the best way to start is somewhere where you’re comfortable – at home!
Benefits of dancing with baby:
How to get started:
Guided Movement Favorites:
Teaching Body positivity may seem like a large concept for your child to grasp, but using a song like "Elephant Have Wrinkles" can help children to develop body awareness and understanding. Understanding your body in relation to others and the world is important to positive self-concept and starting this process at a young age can assist with building confidence as kids grow older.
Using positive words about your child can establish a positive self-concept. The song "Elephants Have Wrinkles" by Mike Whitla can help to start the conversation. Before starting the song have your child guess what animal you are thinking of, as shown in the video, and then go on with the activity. After the song is concludes, ask your child "Elephants have wrinkles...What's something that people have?" Their response can be as simple as "a nose" or as complex as "feelings." It is really dependent on what your child is thinking about in the moment.
From there you can foster a conversation about how everyone might have a nose, but they are all beautifully different. You can ask them to describe their nose or whatever body part chosen on them or you and you can compliment them and give them some positive feedback.
If their thought more abstract, like the feelings example, that conversation can be led in a similar way. Remind your child that everyone experiences feelings and check-in with how they are feeling that day. Give examples of how certain things make you feel and ask them to do the same. All of these conversations can help build a positive self-concept!
Songs that focus on positive self-concept:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.