Resources: Teaching Life Skills Through Language and Music


Man playing violinIt has been said that "music is a way of knowing," it's own kind of intelligence. Knowing different languages, too, is a way of understanding, of connection with other cultures and peoples. Teaching both of these skills to our children gives them important life skills. Yet, what parent who has a child in piano lessons doesn't struggle to get them to practice, and what parent whose kid takes Spanish in school isn't challenged to get them to actually speak the language at home? During a recent MomItForward Twitter #gno party, some panelists from PBS Kids and "in-the-trenches" moms and dads shared some tips on what works for them in teaching music and language to their kids.

When, Why, and How Should I Start My Kids' Music Education?

According to music educator and researcher Robert Cutietta, the window during which children's brains are most malleable to these types of education is between birth and 11 years of age. Panelists and parents agreed that it starts with incorporating it into everyday life:

@jefkaminsky: "I have one daughter who started with a "dime store" keyboard toy, then she started piano lessons at around 4 years old, and now she's 9 and plays piano and takes cello lessons & sings in a chorus!"

@c2cmom: "@beccasara 's daughters recently had a wannabe rockstar birthday party. Made their own music video. SO fun!"

@jylmomif : "I played the piano every day with my kids when they were babies & put them on my lap w/their fingers on my hands."

@kiscodad: "The Library of Congress' National Jukebox ( should be used in every school.  (The National Jukebox makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. )

@pluslily: "Music appreciation is like creative writing or improvisational dance: no sound is wrong and it helps you think outside the box."

Twitter screenshot from @cutemonsterdad "since grasping music seems an innate trate all humans share, kids jump right into the mix."

How, When, and Why Should They Learn a Language?

@noahcomprende: "Research has shown that young kids have an easier time learning languages. They can mimic accents well."

@ashtonzmommi: "Learning another language also teaches them acceptance and appreciating for another culture(s)."

@cutemonsterdad: "Rule 1 for teaching a new language, make it fun. Rule 2, speak it often every chance you get. Rule 3, see rule 1."

@7onashoestring: "Young kids are sponges. They love games. My son gets discouraged and loses interest. Good curriculum helps!"

@jackferraiolo: "Same with language...thinking about the world from a different angle and translating that to your own experience."

Twitter screenshot from @c2cmom: "@beccasara 's daughters recently had a wannabe rockstar birthday party. Made their own music video. SO fun!"

Of course, panelists from PBS Kids @jefkaminsky, a producer for Clifford, and @jackferraiolo, a writer for WordGirl, provided some of the best resources, as in two new series: Chuck Vanderbuck and Noah Comprende. Says @jackferraiolo: "The Chuck Vanderchuck series teaches kids about all different music genres. Chuck was born out of an idea that David Lee Roth would make an awesome music a degree." The Noah Comprende series and site make learning Spanish vocabulary fun for both kids and adults. "We are hearing that parents are using Noah to learn Spanish, even without their kids," says @noahcomprende. Both the Noah and Chuck have parents' sites with activities.

So, if you're frustrated or stymied on the subject of teaching your child music or languages, don't give up! It's worth it and there are many resources available!

Why is it important for kids to learn a new language and music? What important skills are taught through this type of education?

Top photo courtesy of Flickr.


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