Early childhood education is a vital component of your child’s development. So it makes sense that when supplementing (and even integrating) enrichment activities with academic curriculum, we are able to further support said development for student success.
By valuing and prioritizing enrichment programs in elementary schools, we help promote children’s physical, social, emotional and mental health.
This can be implemented through different teaching strategies, fun classroom activities and a variety of subjects. As child development professionals and educators, we’ve seen the positive effects of enrichment programming in elementary education.
These are 5 enrichment activities we recommend elementary schools offer students:
1. Music education for communication and mathematics
When we teach music education to early learners we help develop their communication (reading, listening, speech) and math abilities (sequencing and patterning). An enrichment program focused on music education also promotes creativity and teamwork, which can greatly influence student performance in the classroom.
Two of the teaching methods we love are the Kodaly method and Dalcroze Eurythmics. A Kodaly inspired classroom places emphasis on music education for early learners through vocal music, pitch and notes (solfège), and even finds value in storytelling and movement-based music.
Our comprehensive article on music for child development provides a full guide on great songs for sensory development, emotional vocabulary, and more. These strategies can be used to create classroom activities that keep students engaged and curious.
2. Movement classes for spacial development
We previously mentioned movement-based music activities when exploring music education as an enrichment program. But how can movement communicate music? And how can movement effectively influence academic performance?
Movement helps release tension and anxiety, and improves concentration and motor skills - but it can also be combined with other enrichment activities for a deeper effect. Two teaching methods we highly recommend elementary school enrichment programs incorporate for movement are kids yoga and Dalcroze Eurythmics. Dalcroze Eurythmics supports movement-based music learning that helps children receive the benefits of music education through movement (like walking, turning and jumping.)
Research indicates the benefits of yoga (specifically, the asanas) can be received as early as infancy: improving flexibility, balance, and strength. Combined with Dalcroze eurythmics, musical yoga heightens physical and spacial awareness while encouraging creativity.
Yoga and Eurythmics creates a space were we can say “Yes” to kids’ ideas and focus on teamwork and collaboration. We can even take it a step further to promote literacy with activities like storybook yoga. The opportunities are endless.
An effective enrichment class would foster an environment where children explore rhythm and beat patterns in a mindful way. And with only 3.7% of K-12 schools requiring daily physical education, such movement classes would be not only beneficial but essential to student success.
TRY THIS: Our video, “Mama’s Sleeping” is a great enrichment exercise incorporating Eurythmics.
3. Collaborative learning for team-building and leadership
In searching for the perfect teaching strategies and learning methods for your child, you may have come across one of our favorites: the Reggio Emilia approach. This method works well in the classroom because it builds group activities through collaborative observations. Teachers and students work as a team, with their environments as their oyster.
Project and play-based learning creates a common ground where everyone in the room feels safe and heard. It allows children to practice being leaders, and encourages others to listen with an open mind.
If your child’s school values collaborative learning (which promotes community, creativity and critical thinking), they could integrate enrichment activities into their lesson planning to create Reggio inspired classrooms that foster teamwork and leadership.
TRY THIS: Here are some of our favorite classroom activities that use the Reggio Emilia approach, including “Rhythm Sticks”, which you can watch below:
4. Mindfulness activities for social-emotional development
When we think of mindfulness, we may not immediately connect it with social-emotional development in children and early childhood education. But mindfulness has long influenced SEL (social-emotional learning) by promoting self-regulation, sensory exploration and a sense of community.
Schools that offer mindfulness-focused enrichment activities serve students through breathing exercises, emotional and fact-based observation, and kid-friendly tools for gaining life skills. In turn, young students are able to gain emotional intelligence and regulation, which helps improve classroom behavior and encourage a growth mindset in children.
Our favorite mindfulness benefits for schools and classrooms are not just child-focused, either. A mindfulness practice is essential to educators too, and implementing mindfulness within an enrichment initiative will help teachers, administrators and students. Children learn by following, so advocating for mindfulness programming within your child’s school will have a significant impact on everyone’s learning journey.
TRY THIS: The breathing ball is a classroom favorite for self-regulation!
5. Combination classes
If you are reading this and thinking, “Uh oh, our elementary school doesn’t offer these programs - what should I do!?” you’ll be pleased to know there are enrichment programs that work directly with preschool and elementary schools (whether in-class, during assemblies or as after-school enrichment programs) to support young learners.
Yo Re Mi, for instance, is an original music, movement and mindfulness program with teaching approaches inspired by Kodaly, Dalcroze and Reggio Emilia methods. Our affordable and effective program integrates seamlessly with academic curriculum and Common Core standards, and 98% of surveyed New York State (NYS) teachers found their students benefited from our unique combination class.
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