Music is a powerful teaching tool for preschool leaders. Have you ever thought about why? Music activates unique brain networks, supports long-term memory of lyrics (like Bible verses), and encourages movement and rhythmic expression. More recent research on adults who sing together in groups suggests that when we raise our voices together, we’re rewarded with physical and psychological gains, like better breathing and posture, feelings of increased happiness and well-being, and more closeness to those in the singing group. (Studies are yet to come on what happens to little ones who sing together, but the effects may be similar.) Plus, Scripture is filled with encouraging words about using music to praise God and express faith.
Even if you can’t play an instrument or carry a tune, you can find plenty of ways to use music with your preschoolers. Whether you’re playing an instrument, singing a cappella, or playing music from your mobile device, a laptop, or an old-school boombox, look to music as an influential way to get kids’ attention, help them learn, and positively affect the mood in your room.
Play music during transition times.
Mellow music can signal a calm welcome as children enter your preschool ministry space. Playing the same song each week as your time begins gives kids cues about where they are and what they’ll do. A lively cleanup song can motivate kids to get moving as they put away toys and other materials. Using a predictable dismissal song lets kids know their caregiver will show up soon for pickup time.
Develop a set of just-right songs for preschoolers.
Creating a ministry playlist is easier than ever with all the music resources available. Ask other preschool leaders for their favorites, check online sources for recommendations, and watch videos to see preschool music leaders in action. If you aren’t comfortable leading songs, play the music recording with someone else leading vocals, and sing along with kids.
Keep it simple.
Little ones love to see what the big kids are up to. But, the music that older kids sing may be too complex for your group. Call-and-response songs, songs with simple rhyming phrases, and tunes with easy motions appeal to preschoolers because they can learn them successfully.
Learn whole-body songs to lead with kids.
Young children may love to sing. But what makes music time even more powerful is showing them ways they can use their whole bodies. Learn fingerplay songs, teach American Sign Language signs for important faith words, and show children simple movements and actions they can use during music time. Movement helps them learn the song and its rhythm, keeps their bodies busy, and deepens their memory for the tune.
Whether you’re already using music each time or need encouragement to include this kind of creative activity, you can weave music into your time with preschoolers and enjoy their enthusiastic singing, humming, dancing, and moving.
Dawn Rundman is the director of congregational development at Sparkhouse. Dawn lives in Minnesota with her husband/prom date, Jonathan, and their two children, Paavo and Svea.
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