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Using Social Songs to Develop Routines At Home

Posted on 06/23/20 by Andrea in Early Childhood

 

What an interesting world we live in right now! There have been many negatives but also some positives to staying home through the COVID-19 epidemic. One of those things has been my ability to be with my kids when I would normally be working. Don’t get me wrong, it can be very challenging and I have had many an occasion hiding (in a closet/bathroom/basement etc.) and eating my fair share of chocolate. However, after many weeks of living this life, I can confidently say that it has been a good experience for my family. One of the most important things that has made our time at home more manageable has been the development of routines.

Routines give our children a sense of stability and purpose during times of upheaval. They can also be good for us, too, by establishing expectations and making transitions easier. On a large scale, routines map out our day by determining when we eat, play, sleep, and work on letters, but on a smaller scale, they can help to make individual tasks easier. One way that we can establish routines for smaller tasks easily is by adding music to them.

Music has the innate ability to address different styles of learning in an enjoyable way. By pairing music with instructions, we can also take pressure off of a task for both the child and parent. In music therapy we refer to these as social songs, or songs that are meant to guide the client through a difficult situation. The first thing to do is to outline the steps of the task. Break them down into the simplest terms (ie. Turn on the water, Put the soap on your hands, Now rub them together). Next, select a simple song. It could be a nursery rhyme, Disney tune, or something from the radio. It doesn’t matter what the melody is as long as it is familiar to both you and your child. Once you have a song in mind, put the steps to the melody. One example would be the instructions for washing hands paired to the melody of "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. It might look something like this:

Our Hand Washing Song (to the tune of "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley)

Climb on the step stool,
Turn on the water,
Put some soap,
On your hands,
Rub them together
Make sure their soapy
Now it's time to rinse your hands.

We wash our hands
After the bathroom
After playing
And before we eat

We wash our hands
Every day
That is how
We keep them clean.

Make sure that you spend time reflecting on the task and what you hope to achieve. Think about each step as you do them yourself. This will make it easier to pair them with a melody and will help it feel more natural when you sing them. Lastly, take care of yourself and remember that we will get through all of this. You cannot pour from an empty vessel so make sure that you are taking time for yourselves whenever you can.

-Anie Vallejo Wead, MM, MT-BC

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