Our job is to get children ready for kindergarten.
Armed with knowledge from recent research published in Psychology Today and the courage to innovate, the data showed us when children start playing musical instruments before the age of seven, their brains interpret and integrate a wide range of sensory information and their cognitive abilities improve through musical experience.
Got The Beat?
Our music program is one of three enrichment labs and engulfs the children in catchy melodies and rhythmic beats throughout the day. Students are taught to recognize fast and slow beats in various music genres as well as pitch variations, volume, and basic music notes. This learning is carried into the daily routines in the classroom where children learn about different types of instruments and their specific sounds. Weekly, students participate in activities in the music lab (directly aligned with Texas Prekindergarten guidelines).
Since the initiation of this program, data has shown improved student achievement in literacy, science, and math. The program’s goal is to include this weekly 30 minute experience into the daily classroom routine.
Last year we started an after school program for ten students to interact with the program’s Music Ambassadors and learn to play a variety of percussion instruments, including the steel pan drums, xylophones, and electronic piano keyboards. Teachers utilized the students’ abilities to recognize color and number patterns and ability to repeat beats demonstrated by teachers.
Within a period of six weeks of practice, twice a week, students were able to successfully perform a music concert which ended in a collaborative piece between our Pre-K musicians and the local high school Mariachi group.
The research told us the students who learn to play an instrument will also be able to make better connections when learning new concepts.
Music is one part of our enrichment labs – we have a group of bright eyed, three and four year old youngsters scurrying around the campus transitioning from the music lab to the science lab to the technology lab and back to their classrooms.
In the science lab, students’ activities include daily science focused lessons, a weekly experiment in the campus’s science enrichment lab, and the annual science fair – now in its fifth year.
The program also sets precedents in parental engagement through a variety of school readiness parent trainings and participation in the scientific method. It is often through these experiences that families get their initial exposure to the scientific method and its benefits.
The goals of the program are not only that each child is prepared to excel as they enter kindergarten in every core area required by the State’s early learning guidelines, but to succeed in the pursuit of future collegiate endeavors as young adults.
Donald Olivo and Melinda Brijalba, the program’s Education Coordinators, have both been with the San Felipe Del Rio CISD Irene Cardwell Head Start program for over fifteen years and help lead various teams responsible for the design and implementation of many of the program’s initiatives. The program director is Linda Guanajuato-Webb who leads the teams to achieve and maintain excellence. The Texas’ STEM Coalition invited Cardwell’s team to present their innovative science enrichment process to statewide educators in February.