The International Society for Friendship & Goodwill has declared October 1-7  to be  Universal Children’s Week. Various countries and organizations observe this on various days throughout the fall. Generally the focus is on raising awareness to those millions of children around the world who calls are denied the basic necessities of a happy childhood and the education to develop their capacities.

I consider basics to be food, clothing, shelter, safety, care and love. Next I see education and play as key to developing. Play? Why play?

Children love to play. It is a great way for a child to learn about themselves and  their world. Play  helps a child develop social skills (how to interact with others). Part of the interacting is developing communication skills. Physical developmentt can be of gross motor (e.g. – crawling, jumping) and fine motor (manipulating small  objects). , A variety of cognitive skills are supported with play among them are counting and problem solving.  Exploration and creativity are also found in play.

Music can be a great arena for exploration and creativity. It can take on many shapes and forms.

Vocal exploration. High – low, long – short, fast – slow, we start vocal play shortly after birth. We begin to imitate melodies and sounds. Learning songs we start creating our own unique songs as toddlers. I can remember as children creating our own versions for hours on end while in the car and while playing together in the yard.

Adults can support this by singing with their children, inviting them to insert items into songs (e.g. – which animal should Old MacDonald have next?), or joining in on songs the child creates. This is just a starter list and by no means is it exhaustive.

Sound exploration. It is normal to see a child taping/beating a bowl or tray with a spoon. Why not have some old dishes and pots just for this purpose. (Think kitchen band.) Dry beans and rice in containers make for fun affordable shakers. You can extend the play to the yard or bathtub with water in metal pots allowing them to see how the sound changes.  Promote listening to sounds around you, too. Listen for the rhythm of the train on the track, the hum of an engine, the whistle of the wind in the grass.

Songs to organize & teach. Most of us learn the alphabet by singing it. Some of us sing counting songs. Jumping rope often involved rhymes. Some books and stories can be sung. Music can make learning fun if it grows organically out of play.

There are tons of sources for creating music with your child. Here are just a few:

1. Read a singable story with your child. There are several listed in my posts including:

2. Create a homemade instrument. I have some information on the post Easy Summertime Music Fun

3. Listen to a variety of music from a variety of periods or time and styles of music. In fact, listen a few times before deciding if you/they like it or not. Research is indicating it may take repeated exposure to new materials to decide if you like it. Move to it, have it on in the background while you engage in play with your child, play music during a family meal. sit and listen to it asking/sharing what you hear.

Music allows all of us to take part as we are able. So enjoy it, share it, make it. Whether we have children or only have children as neighbors, we all make positive contributions to their lives. Generally sharing music can cost little to nothing.

Remember we are responsible to the children in our society. A couple of popular songs over the years serve as reminders of this. The first is “Teach Your Children Well”.

The second is “God Bless the Child“. It is more of a prayer for children everywhere.

May you find a way to share in this special week.

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