West Berkshire Family Life

Brain-Boosting Music-Making: Simple, Free and Fun!

A guest post by Lizzie Lock from Boogie Mites West Berkshire & South Oxfordshire.

I’m Lizzie, and I’m a mum and a musician based in Newbury, West Berkshire. I run Boogie Mites West Berkshire & South Oxfordshire, and my mission in life is enabling as many young children as possible to have access to inspiring music-making that supports their development in a whole range of ways!

Research has shown that active music-making is a whole brain activity (if you’d like to find out more about this, our Parent Information sheet is a great place to start!) And we also know that repetition and practise are the best way for children to build their confidence and hone new skills.

So that’s why at Boogie Mites, as well as offering you the opportunity to come along to our fun, friendly sessions, we also make sure you have access to great resources & ideas for you to use at home or on the go with your little one. It means you can start to weave the magic of music-making into your daily life, using everyday objects – it’s simple, accessible & fun!

Here’s a really simple idea to try at home:

Start and Stop!

This is brilliant for supporting listening & communication skills (and also teaching children about “stop” – so important for their safety). You could use a shaker, a drum or a movement for this activity (and we use home-made instruments at Boogie Mites – more on this here). Make sure both you & your child(ren) have something to make a sound with, so you can model what to do for them.

  • Try to find a quiet space, with as few distractions as possible – make eye contact with your little one with a big smile so they know you’re ready to play!
  • Slowly say “Ready… Steady… GO!” and start shaking your shaker (or drumming your drum/clapping your hands – whatever you’ve chosen).
  • Encourage your child to start copying you – give them plenty of time to join in: it can take young children quite a bit longer than you might think to understand what’s going on, and to co-ordinate their movements.
  • When you’re ready, give your child a cue with the tone of your voice that you’re going to stop: “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand STOP!” – really emphasise your movement coming to a stop (e.g. if you’re shaking a shaker, clasp it to your chest and freeze)
  • Repeat start & stop until one or the other of you have had enough 😉 This could be 1 minute or 5 minutes… or longer! It doesn’t matter how long – and if you repeat this activity regularly you’ll start to notice your child’s focus & concentration increase.
  • Your little one might not join in straight away – don’t worry! Just give them lots of smiles & encouragement – and keep persevering, repetition will really help them to learn what the game is, build their self-confidence to copy and pick up new-found skills.
  • Sometimes the starting & stopping can be really subtle – your child (especially if they’re very young) might show the “stop” by freezing their body movements, even if they’re not copying you exactly.
  • And sometimes your child might choose to fill in the gap you’ve left after your ‘stop’ – I see this lots in my classes, and it’s definitely not ‘naughty’! Your child is showing they’ve understood there’s a silence, and has chosen to respond by filling it – they’re demonstrating the foundations of conversation!

That’s all there is to it – simple, fun and free! And you can do it anywhere – your child will love connecting with you while you play this game together… and you’ll be doing something amazing to support their listening* & communication skills too!

*Disclaimer: I can’t guarantee your child won’t still have ‘selective hearing’ some of the time 😉

For more ideas and inspiration, and information about our classes, follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Boogie Mites West Berkshire is a West Berkshire Family Life membership card partner! You can enjoy 15% off your first block booking of classes. See more details and sign up for your FREE membership card here.

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