My Musical Transition – Top tips for Starting School

Starting School
  • 4 aims to harness the potential brain-boosting benefits of early years music practice
  • Tips for including effective music practice in your transition activities
  • Feedback from schools and parents using Boogie Mites music to support transition
  • Find out how you can get ready for starting school with Boogie Mites

The coming summer months will be a transition period for those children starting Big School in September. In our last blog post, we discussed the importance of ‘school readiness’ and the evidence that proves music is the key to gaining the skills needed to close the attainment gap. With all of this evidence, it’s surely time for neuroscience to be accepted as a way of informing early years practice!

You don’t need to be a musician to lead brain-boosting music-making activities; you just need training and resources – and the confidence will come with practice (as you, yourself develop the skills to lead music activities!)

There are 4 aims considered most important for early years music practice – to maximise the potential benefits for brain development. These prepare the brain for learning general and specific foundations for literacy and maths; ready for starting school.

1.FEELING THE BEAT – DEVELOPING RHYTHMIC AWARENESS
As soon as children are able to move and keep the beat -clapping or grasping sticks and shakers- they can learn to synchronise actions; developing their rhythmic awareness. Nursery rhymes go some way to support this development and regularly moving-to and keeping with the beat will assist their potential to develop rhythmic awareness. Maximise the effect this has on their development by using body percussion and instruments with music that has a strong, steady drum beat.

  • Use instruments to keep the beat such as shakers, sticks and drums.
  • Keep the beat with actions – marching, bobbing up and down, body percussion such as clapping, stamping and thigh-tapping.
  • Play along with different styles of recorded music with a strong drumbeat
  • Create rhythmic patterns of sounds, actions, body percussion sequences and words.

2.LISTENING AND SINGING – DEVELOPING PITCH AND MELODIC AWARENESS
Listening to musical arrangements from birth helps to develop pitch and melodic awareness. Encourage children to listen to and sing daily with a wide range of melodies. This will help them to develop awareness of pitch, tempo, dynamics and refine their ability to hear and sing in tune. Again, nursery rhymes will go some way to support this development. However, engaging with and responding to recorded music of many different styles and genres, offers the best opportunity to fulfill their development of melodic awareness.

  • Use the call-and-response method for leading sequencing of vocal sounds and instrumental sounds – musical games.
  • Play listening games with different musical sounds representing different actions/sounds.
  • Play and sing along with different styles of recorded music with a catchy melody and introduce harmonies.
  • Use songs/rhymes to tell stories, developing expression in story-telling skills supported by the dynamics, tempo and lyrics of the song

3.PLAYING WITH WORDS – DEVELOPING PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS
Playing with words through musical activities can further support this aim. Nursery rhymes help to achieve this, but more specifically developed musical activities, with a focus on the sequencing of sounds, actions, and syllables will advance their growing phonological awareness most effectively.

  • Finish the rhyming line with rhyming words; play with rhyming pairs within a song
  • Use tapping sticks to tap out the rhythm (syllables) of words within a song
  • Use sound talk in songs or rhymes to sound out the phoneme sounds of words

4.ENTHUSE THE ADULTS AND CHILDREN TAKING PART
Feel the excitement too! All of the above activities will be wasted if the adults and children taking part are not enthusiastic and motivated. It is of utmost importance that the music used is engaging and inspiring for all involved. Use some funky, modern, upbeat recorded music as well as acapella tunes for activities. The themes need to captivate the child’s imagination, but also the style of music should be interesting to the adult’s ear as well as to the child’s.

It is time to be more adventurous with early years music making, to heed the wealth of scientific evidence, to harness the brain-boosting power and strengthen school ready skills through music at this vital stage.

Read some testimonials from schools who have used Boogie Mites to ready their children for starting school:

Boogie Mites provides an invaluable resource to reach out to parents and children overcoming the barriers and achieving trust. They are an excellent way of engaging target parents, in addition to improving outcomes for young children. Boogie Mites meets the 7 aspects of Letters and Sounds Phase 1 which provides rich pre-reading skills. Children enter school with well below these skills, so it is an important part of transition.

Sue Aspland, Head Teacher, Springfield Infants School, Waterlooville, Hampshire.

Boogie Mites have delivered workshops at Gomer and Elson Infant Schools in Gosport each Summer term for the last 4 years. All parents and children who will be starting in Year R in September are invited to attend one of 3 Boogie Mites School Ready parent workshops in early July. The 45-minute workshop covers a selection of Boogie Mites songs from their School Ready Programme supporting Letters and Sounds Phase 1. Parents and children are fully engaged throughout and parents are given information about how the activities support language and listening skills at this stage. Take up and feedback is very good. Each family take a CD home and are encouraged to practice at home over the Summer. We find this is a valuable support to our transition.

Debby Marshall, Head Teacher Gomer and Elson Infants Schools, Gosport, Hampshire

It is a valuable addition to the children as they start school in September and would definitely recommend this programme of Transition. The children respond well, and parents are strongly encouraged to use the CD at home.

Joanne Stanworth, Deputy Head, Sharpes Copse Primary, Havant, Hampshire

Find out what Parents who have used Boogie Mites for their child’s School Transition think:

Boogie Mites has helped with transition. Ellie has enjoyed singing the songs at home. I have enjoyed getting to know other children and parents. This has been an excellent transition.

He gained confidence in using English. Prior to 6 weeks ago I was in Japanese! Inspired to help him with pre-school study and for me to make friends.

If you would like to get School-Ready with Boogie Mites, visit the parent programmes for home use or practitioner programmes section on our website shop. If you are already a Licensee setting for Boogie Mites School Ready Programme you can purchase the parent workshop pack to learn how to lead a workshop or course for parents and pre-school children as part of the transition. Read our next blog all about this pack.

For enquiries, contact Sue Newman, Boogie Mites Director, on 023 92 817274 or email her sue@boogiemites.co.uk