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The First Acquired Language: Music

Mishael discovering the guitar in his first months

A pair of deep brown eyes stare into mine already so full of love and trust, and although I’m not sure I deserve such love and trust, they continue to gaze into mine and I am speechless.

Let’s rewind one year. Here I am. First time mom with a new born baby boy in my arms. I couldn’t be happier and also more humbled. Being in the child care field for so many years and working mostly with infants I assumed having my own would be a piece of cake. Wrong.

Sure I already knew how to change a diaper and understand baby babble but what do I do with a newborn that, well, really just lays there and looks at me?

Music.

I rested my son, Mishael, on the living room floor and crossed my legs next to him with an acoustic guitar. Delicately, I strummed chords and sang softly. He seemed pleasantly content and at peace. The next day I let him rest in the living room again as I played and sung to him. The next day as well as the next, I did the same.

Finally, a smile. Before I would even begin to play, Mishael would grin at the sight of me grasping the guitar from its stand.

And then a coo and a hum. He was not only excited when he caught glimpse of the guitar but he had acquired a unique singing voice.

Next a wave of the arm and a shake of the leg. As Mishael’s excitement grew every time I brought out the guitar, his body began to move and wiggle as well.

Music is a language he identifies with. It provides him a way of expressing himself as his vocabulary grows. It wasn’t long after incorporating music continually throughout the day that his expressions grew into many. His babbling grew into words. His waves became clapping. And his legs began bouncing to the rhythm of a song.

Music.

Mishael has developed emotionally, cognitively and physically due to music.

I truly believe that every child can make meaning of the world in their own way through music some way or another. And it doesn’t have to be with an acoustic guitar either. Here is a short list of some places nearby that my son and I love to go every week. They will provide your child with a wonderful start in music and you might just learn a thing or two as well!

 

Baby Time @ New Westminster Public Library. Fridays at 10:15am (no charge)

Pre-school story time @ New Westminster Public Library. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday at 10:15am (no charge)

http://www.nwpl.ca/kids/

Mini Music ages 0-5 @ Music Box. Fridays at 10am and 11am (no charge)

http://www.musicboxnw.ca/childrens-classes/ages-0-3/

Music Kids Daycare @ Top floor of River Market. Occasional and flexible child care, music focused. Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. (Charges apply)

http://www.musicboxnw.ca/daycare-new-westminster/

 -Kimberly Ngugi is co-owner & manager of Music Kids Daycare at the River Market, a new flexible music daycare by Music Box. After completing her Early childhood education certificate and diploma specializing in infant/toddler and special needs care, Kimberly has enjoyed many years of experience teaching children in a variety of settings from daycare, junior kindergarten and pre-school internationally in Kenya. Kimberly is passionate in creating environments for children to make meaning of the world on their own with room to create, imagine and discover. She also has special education in teaching English as a second language and music.  She lives in New Westminster with her husband and 1 year old son.

A Hundred Languages

All children learn, discover and understand in different ways. The way in which one child will understand why leaves are green during summer and fall in autumn, may be completely opposite from another. Being aware that every child learns differently and providing them an atmosphere and environment to explore and make their own theories about life seems crucial to me.

 

Below is a poem by Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio approach. A poem that was shared with me in college when studying early childhood education. It completely changed my perspective on children and the environments which they should be surrounded by to make meaning of the world around them.

 

The child

is made of one hundred.

The child has

A hundred languages

A hundred hands

A hundred thoughts

A hundred ways of thinking

Of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred

Ways of listening of marveling of loving

A hundred joys

For singing and understanding

A hundred worlds

To discover

A hundred worlds

To invent

A hundred worlds

To dream

The child has

A hundred languages

(and a hundred hundred hundred more)

But they steal ninety-nine.

The school and the culture

Separate the head from the body.

They tell the child;

To think without hands

To do without head

To listen and not to speak

To understand without joy

To love and to marvel

Only at Easter and Christmas

They tell the child:

To discover the world already there

And of the hundred

They steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:

That work and play

Reality and fantasy

Science and imagination

Sky and earth

Reason and dream

Are things

That do not belong together

And thus they tell the child

That the hundred is not there

The child says: NO WAY the hundred is there–

 

Loris Malagasy 

Founder of the Reggio Approach

-Kimberly Ngugi is co-owner & manager of Music Kids Daycare at the River Market, a new flexible music daycare by Music Box. After completing her Early childhood education certificate and diploma specializing in infant/toddler and special needs care, Kimberly has enjoyed many years of experience teaching children in a variety of settings from daycare, junior kindergarten and pre-school internationally in Kenya. Kimberly is passionate in creating environments for children to make meaning of the world on their own with room to create, imagine and discover. She also has special education in teaching English as a second language and music.  She lives in New Westminster with her husband and 1 year old son.

The First Acquired Language: Music

The First Acquired Language: Music

fa

Mishael discovering the guitar in his first months.

 

A pair of deep brown eyes stare into mine already so full of love and trust, and although I’m not sure I deserve such love and trust, they continue to gaze into mine and I am speechless.

Let’s rewind one year.  Here I am.  First time mom with a new born baby boy in my arms.  I couldn’t be happier and also more humbled.  Being in the child care field for so many years and working mostly with infants I assumed having my own would be a piece of cake.  Wrong.

Sure I already knew how to change a diaper and understand baby babble but what do I do with a newborn that, well, really just lays there and looks at me?

Music.

I rested my son, Mishael, on the living room floor and crossed my legs next to him with an acoustic guitar.  Delicately, I strummed chords and sang softly.  He seemed pleasantly content and at peace.  The next day I let him rest in the living room again as I played and sung to him.  The next day as well as the next, I did the same.

Finally, a smile.  Before I would even begin to play, Mishael would grin at the sight of me grasping the guitar from its stand.

And then a coo and a hum.  He was not only excited when he caught glimpse of the guitar but he had acquired a unique singing voice.

Next a wave of the arm and a shake of the leg.  As Mishael’s excitement grew every time I brought out the guitar, his body began to move and wiggle as well.

Music is a language he identifies with.  It provides him a way of expressing himself as his vocabulary grows.  It wasn’t long after incorporating music continually throughout the day that his expressions grew into many.  His babbling grew into words.  His waves became clapping.  And his legs began bouncing to the rhythm of a song.

Music.

Mishael has developed emotionally, cognitively and physically due to music.

I truly believe that every child can make meaning of the world in their own way through music some way or another.  And it doesn’t have to be with an acoustic guitar either.  Here is a short list of some places nearby that my son and I love to go every week.  They will provide your child with a wonderful start in music and you might just learn a thing or two as well!

~Kimberly Ngugi

 

Baby Time @ New Westminster Public Library.  Fridays at 10:15am (no charge)

Pre-school story time @ New Westminster Public Library. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday at 10:15am (no charge)

http://www.nwpl.ca/kids/

Mini Music ages 0-5 @ Music Box.  Fridays at 10am and 11am (no charge)  

http://www.musicboxnw.ca/childrens-classes/ages-0-3/

Music Kids Daycare @ Top floor of River Market. Occasional and flexible child care, music focused. Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. (Charges apply)

http://www.musicboxnw.ca/daycare-new-westminster/

 

Do all children play?

Red elastic. Blue elastic. Green elastic. Yellow elastic. Tiny fingers working diligently to wrap band around band until their labours have produced a brilliant and vibrant coloured ball. Believe it or not, if you wrap enough elastic bands around themselves with a couple polythene bags intertwined, it will create a ball durabUntitled1le enough to kick around as a soccer ball.  A clever skill I learned while living in rural Kenya for three
years.
After working in child care for many years and seeing the endless amount of plastic toys the children had to play with, it made me wonder if play was universal. Could children living in the uttermost poor and rural environments still play like children exposed to plastic toys and IPad’s?

The idea of children living in a slum with mud walls to form a simple home and walking in streets of debris seemed to shout a loud, “NO!” Surely children do not play all over the world. But as I walked through the slums of Kenya interacting with the children there, my opinion began to change.

I found children making use of other’s garbage to create toys. I remember one young girl crouched on the ground biting her lip as she put all her concentration and efforts into tying a filthy string to a polythene bag that had been thrown out. I crouched next to her and asked what she was making.

“A kite,” she replied.

Sure enough, as she finished attaching strings to each side of the bag and a breeze passed by, the kite lifted into the air. With a cheerful giggle, the girl stood up and raced around with her kite.

Do all children play? My heart and mind have been persuaded to say, “yes.”

Untitled2
My son & I taking a moment to explore on one of our walks.

My one-year-old son reminds me of these children every day. Like most of you, I’m sure, we have a toy box in our living room. It’s full of plastic toys, as I like to call them. Rarely do I find him playing with a single toy in it.

Instead he is eager to play with wooden spoons or to open every cupboard in the kitchen and discover a toy box of pots, pans and Tupperware’s.   When we go to the park, I pack the diaper bag full of toys and every time I fail to unpack even one of them as he much prefers to play with the leaves, sticks and rocks. I’m sure many of you can identify.

Real. Authentic. Natural. My son will choose a real adult-like spoon over his small plastic spoon. He will choose to play with a stick over a plastic car. He prefers to watch real fish in a pond than play with his plastic fish that flash and play music.

Do all children play? I’ve determined whether children are exposed to manufactured toys or left to imagine what they can create with the natural items around them, it is an outstanding YES.

After working with children for many years and studying the way they play and learn, I couldn’t be more excited to have just opened Music Kids Daycare at the river market by the New Westminster Quay. Founded with Reggio Emilia philosophies from Italy, children are exposed to real, authentic, natural items.

I believe every child is competent and should be treated so. Every child discovers and understands differently from another and I truly desire to provide an environment that allows a child to make meaning of the world in their own way.

Do all children play? Even in the uttermost poor and rural environments? I have no other word to answer with but “yes.” Let’s replace the plastic with natural, the manufactured with authentic and provide our children with an atmosphere that encourages creativity, imagination and understanding.

Clinton, age 3, discovering that he can still draw a picture in the dirt with a stick even though he lacks paper and felts.
Clinton, age 3, discovering that he can still draw a picture in the dirt with a stick even though he lacks paper and felts.

-Kimberly Ngugi is co-owner & manager of Music Kids Daycare at the River Market, a new flexible music daycare by Music Box. After completing her Early childhood education certificate and diploma specializing in infant/toddler and special needs care, Kimberly has enjoyed many years of experience teaching children in a variety of settings from daycare, junior kindergarten and pre-school internationally in Kenya. Kimberly is passionate in creating environments for children to make meaning of the world on their own with room to create, imagine and discover. She also has special education in teaching English as a second language and music.  She lives in New Westminster with her husband and 1 year old son.

Family Meals

 

By Linda Tobias

 

Family meals are important. Whether it’s just you and your child, or your family has several generations living together, sitting down together to eat can result in healthier eating habits, improved self-esteem, and better social skills. Studies suggest that family meals are a big factor in raising healthy, happy kids. (source)

 

But what is a family meal? If your first thought is that family meals must be lengthy and involve multiple courses of hearty and healthy food made from scratch, then you’re likely to give up on the whole idea. (I know I would!) But, fear not, family meals can be very simple to pull off!

 

  • 20 minutes is all you need! We live in a busy world where few of us have an hour to sit down for dinner each night, and that’s okay. Sit down, eat and then get on with what you need to do.
  • Meals don’t need to be a burden. Make sandwiches, reheat leftovers, grab take-out on the way home – as long as you’re all together when you’re eating, it counts as a family meal.
  • Busy day? Eat out. A meal eaten together at a fast food joint is still a family meal.

 

Here are some tips that will have you putting together family meals like a pro:

 

  • Talk to each other! This is the time to connect as a family. Share highlights from your day, make plans for the weekend, tell stories from when you were a kid, ask questions. Involve everyone in the conversation.
  • Make the meal fun. Let kids eat at their own pace. Let everyone pick which of the served foods to eat and how much.
  • Ban all electronics from the area you’re eating in. No tablets, video games or smart phones (that means you too!). Turn the TV off.
  • Plan your meals for the week. Involve everyone in the family so that each person gets at least one of their favourite meals.
  • Involve kids in putting the meal together. Take them grocery shopping. Get them to help in the kitchen, with setting the table, and by cleaning up after the meal.

 

Read more about Family Meals:

Ellyn Satter Institute

Better Together BC

Community Kitchens in Sapperton Sept-Nov

Come and spend a couple of hours learning some healthy fall recipes. Lets find out what’s in season and make use of the wide variety of fruits and vegetables which are available right now. Its time to settle in with warm and comforting recipes that we all love at this time of the year.

This workshop is available to parents, seniors and anyone who are interested in healthy eating!

Tuesday mornings at Knox Presbyterian Church.

Details: Food Skills for Families (Edmonds Sept 2015)2

 

Community Parent Education Program Oct 13 to Nov 17

Join us for a series of parent education workshops hosted by the Simon Fraser Society for Community Living and SHARE: Family Services. COPE is a community based parenting program. COPE is designed to help parents and caregivers practise and develop skills to strengthen their relationships with their children, increase cooperation, and solve problems. Parents will have the opportunity to connect with other members of the community, and have their questions answered by qualified professionals.

When:
Tuesday October 13, 2015 at 6:30 PM PDT -to-
Tuesday November 17, 2015 at 8:30 PM PST

Where:

New Westminster Children’s Centre 811 Royal Avenue New Westminster, BC V3M 1K1

To Register: Julia Ho, New Westminster Children’s Center, Program Support, (604) 521-8078, jho@sfscl.org

 

 

http://www.freeimages.com/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1253374

Child Development Support in New West

Concerned about your child’s development? New West has many resources.

If a child is born healthy, the future seems limitless. But for some of us, the dream of sports trophies, academic achievements and a large group of friends fades as we slowly come to see that something just isn’t right.

Where can you turn if your child is not hitting important milestones, showing odd behaviour or giving you other reasons to worry about his or her development? If you’re in New West then you’re in luck. There are many places with information, support and help.

http://www.freeimages.com/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1253374
Photo by Patrick Hajzler, used via a Creative Commons license.

If you’re not sure whether there’s a reason for concern

Sometimes, especially if you’re a first-time parent, it can be hard to know how your child is doing in relation to his or her peers. If, for example, your daughter isn’t walking at 14 months, is that normal?

The free drop-in programs for the under-5 crowd at New Westminster Family Place or Strong Start can help. The staff is well versed in child development and you’ll get an opportunity to meet other families with kids who are the same age to give you an idea of how your child is doing in comparison.

Your family doctor can be a great source of information about child development and can give a referral to a pediatrician or other services if needed.

The public health nurses at the Public Health Unit are also a great resource. They often have more time to discuss your concerns than a family doctor, so if you’re there for immunizations, it’s a great opportunity to discuss any concerns you have.

Important note: nobody is ever going to know more about your child than you. If your gut tells you that there’s something to be concerned about, it’s important that you follow up, even if health professionals are telling you that everything is fine.

If there’s a reason for concern

If you know that there are concerns that need to be addressed, the New Westminster Children’s Centre is your one-stop destination for getting the help you need. Located at 811 Royal Ave, they take referrals not just from medical professionals (like your doctor or public health nurse), but from parents as well.

Call them at 604.521.8078 local 318 and ask for either Infant Development (0-3 years) or Supported Child Development (3+ years). They will help you determine if your child meets the criteria to be eligible for services.

If your family is added to the caseload, a consultant will meet you at your home to discuss your concerns in detail. They have all of tools and knowledge to conduct an in-depth assessment, can suggest activities to help your child catch up and can refer you to therapies that may be appropriate, including speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

New West residents with a First Nations background can also contact the Spirit of the Children Society. It provides the services that the NWCC does, but with special support and resources for First Nations families.

Bio: Linda is a New West mom with two boys. Her older son has Autism and her younger son is undiagnosed with developmental delays. You can read more about her personal experience with looking for help here. You can connect with Linda on Twitter.