It’s finally Friday! We’re so glad that we’ve gotten to celebrate NAECY’s Week of the Young Child with you through our #woyc18 blog posts! We don’t often take time during Zumbini® class to discuss why we do what we do, so hopefully the past few days have provided some insight into all of the amazing ways in which you are helping your little one develop invaluable skills by participating in class and by exploring Zumbini® materials at home.
While we’ve looked at the importance of music, nutrition, fitness, working/building together, and art experiences in early childhood so far, NAECY has saved perhaps the keystone element for last—family, defined here as the child and the adults who nurture and care for him/her. (Undoubtedly, siblings play a huge role in development and we love having them in class, but this connotation specifically and purposefully focuses on the relationship between the child and caregivers.) Caregivers truly are their child's first teachers by serving as role models for how he/she collects and processes data about the world around him/her.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ and the U.S. Department of Education's Policy Statement on Family Engagement from the Early Years to the Early Grades outlines meaningful research-backed insight which indicates that “[f]amilies have strong and sustained effects on children’s development, learning, and wellness.”* Let’s take a quick look at how some of these key points relate to the Zumbini® program.
1. [N]urturing, responsive, and sensitive parenting promotes social-emotional competence and academic success.*
Child/caregiver bonding is a central component of the Zumbini® experience! This bond strengthens as caregivers and their children share focused, quality time TOGETHER during class (there’s a reason we don’t allow cell phones in our space!), as well as when they sing, read, dance, and play TOGETHER between class meetings.
As a child’s role model, it is important that caregivers participate in class. By doing so, they are teaching their child innumerable lessons, ranging from respect and self-regulation, to early literacy skills, to the importance of fitness.
2. reading and talking to young children leads to positive outcomes…Children of families who engage in these early learning activities at home, and have materials available to enrich these experiences, show more advanced vocabulary and literacy skills.*
Reading: “infants and toddlers who are read to more often have better language and cognition skills than their peers who are read to less often."*
- Zumbini® take home materials include a beautifully illustrated story/song book that caregivers are encouraged to share with their little learners.
o read and discuss the story and the lyrics
o discuss the illustrations
o use the plush toy as a reading buddy or a prop to act out the story
o use the song themes as a springboard for topics of additional storybooks to check out with your little learner
o explore the suggestions for caregivers printed in each story/song book
2. Talking: “High-quality verbal interactions between young children and their caregivers predict vocabulary size and school readiness later in life.”*
Talking (rather, singing) in a variety of languages is integral to Zumbini®! We begin class by welcoming all of our friends through song, we sing during class, and we end each class with a goodbye song. We also encourage little learners to speak up to provide input during songs. While we’re all having a blast (we’re all rock stars!), our incredible little learners are being exposed to concepts that include cultural awareness, language, math, and science, to name but a few.
At home, families can read and discuss the story/song book and follow-along and discuss Zumbini® Time TOGETHER.
3. [F]amilies’ positive attitudes about schools are associated with children’s successful performance at school.*
Because caregivers serve as their child’s role model, when little learners see their caregivers enthusiastically participate in class and at home, they realize that learning is fun and something they want to do!
Our Zumbini® classes serve as the first “school” experience for many of our families and that’s fantastic! While we don’t require our little learners to “sit and pay attention” or assign homework, they do participate in their own ways and they love to continue the Zumbini® fun outside of class by reading their story/song books, following along with Zumbini® Time, and jamming to Zumbini® music.
4. Parents who have more supportive and extensive social networks and feel greater connection to their communities create warmer, more responsive, and more stimulating home environments for their children; communicate better with their children; and feel more confident in their role as parents.*
Zumbini® class provides a warm, community atmosphere. Regardless of their differences, participating caregivers share the common bond of wanting to enrich the lives of their children. We love to celebrate our little learners' milestones in class. Not only do caregivers have a blast together during class, but they also often build friendships and support networks that extend outside of class.
Zumbini® class is a judgment-free zone. All caregivers in our classes have experience with young children. We’ve had sleepless nights and fussy babies; we've been there and we're here for you! We understand if getting to class was rough and we are more than happy to dance with an active toddler so that his mama can give his younger sibling a little more attention. We don't care how caregivers sing or dance—they're not doing it for the other adults, they're doing it for their child and that's amazing!
Zumbini® class lifts your spirits. If music is therapeutic, then Zumbini® music is Nirvana. (Over statement? Nah.) Try not to smile when you’re dancing and babies are giggling around you or when preschoolers chime-in to suggest making a pizza with monster trucks as toppings. I'll admit it, I’ve been listening to Zumbini® music in my car for months on-end—even without my little one present—because it makes me happy! #zumbinilife
As Week of the Young Child comes to a close, we hope that you have enjoyed reading about the many experiences that are so important to early childhood. Share quality, focused time with your little learner during Family Friday (and whenever you can!). Young children are unique and amazing and it is important to celebrate their many achievements. The first five years of life are so crucial to their development because the experiences during this time have a lasting impact.
If you are a member of the Zumbini® family, thank you for prioritizing your child's early development and education. If you haven't joined us yet, give Zumbini® a try—Jump over to our Zumbini® page or visit www.zumbini.com to register for a demo and class sessions!
Until next time, take great care!
*Policy Statement on Family Engagement from the Early Years to the Early Grades: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/16_0152reportclean_logos.pdf