The magical influence of music

30 November 2023

St Andrew's College Pre-school children dancing.

Regulus // Issue 3 // November 2023

The Pre-school children loved their time with musical sister duo, Leah Williams-Partington and Siu Williams-Lemi of Loopy Tunes, who visited in Term 3, says Head of Pre‑school, Mandy Jenkins.

“The tamariki were super engaged and focused during this fantastic interactive session. The children were invited to sing along, use props, copy actions, sing in te reo, and use sign language, with lots of opportunities to get up and dance. Seeing how engaged they were has encouraged us to continue to incorporate lots of music into our daily rhythm.”

Music is already an integral part of the Pre-school’s learning programme, and is one of the first things the children experience on their arrival each day. “We usually start our shared group time in the morning with a song or dance. The children also love to explore musical instruments together. As well as being enjoyable, fun, and engaging, music has so many benefits. It encourages the children to be expressive and creative, supports their language development, and provides collaborative learning opportunities.”

Music also provides a link to home cultures and other languages, including te reo Māori and sign language, she says. “As a team, we have been committed to learning more sign language and a number of songs together, which we pass on to the tamariki. It’s just one example of how our kaiako are lifelong learners and embrace the challenge of building their confidence in integrating music into the learning programme.

Teacher, Emma Richards, is a singer and did a Performing Arts degree before going into Early Childhood Education. She is passionate about introducing new musical experiences to the Pre-school. “Not only does music spark joy for the children, it is such a great learning tool. Sometimes we sing instructions to children rather than say them, as they often respond better to the repetitive nature of a song. Music also helps them to develop memory and social skills, creativity, and encourages teamwork,” she says.

Emma has reintroduced nursery rhymes for the younger children, which is having positive benefits, says Mandy. “Nursery rhymes almost fell out of favour in the teaching world, but now speech and language therapists and other experts have recognised the value in these traditional rhymes and songs, and how beneficial they are in supporting language development in young children.”

Music is Emma’s speciality as part of her Professional Growth Cycle, which is an opportunity for all kaiako with a particular passion for something, to bring their authentic self into the learning programme and share their enthusiasm. Emma undertakes regular Professional Development on music initiatives, says Mandy. “We often find our kaiako’s Professional Growth Cycle passions widen into whole-Pre-school goals which are enthusiastically embraced by all. This is definitely true of Emma and her love of music.”

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