Using songs to promote intentional inclusion in early childhood education
Let’s dive into today’s blog which will reveal how you can leverage the power of songs to achieve intentional inclusion within your learning spaces!
In today’s diverse and multicultural society, intentional inclusion has become an essential aspect of creating a welcoming and supportive learning environment, especially in early childhood education.
As we described in our previous blog:
Intentional inclusion refers to a deliberate and proactive effort to create a diverse and inclusive environment – one where individuals from different backgrounds feel valued and respected…
…The goal of intentional inclusion is to ensure that everyone is given equal opportunities to participate, contribute, and succeed, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or any other characteristic.
Although this may sound like a lot for you to accommodate, it is in fact easier to accomplish than it may at first seem!
“But how?” you may be asking!
By infusing intentional inclusion with creativity – this is how you will effortlessly create a supportive and engaging learning environment that seamlessly celebrates and values all your children.
Many different creative mediums could be used for this purpose, for example, music, art, storytelling, drama, cooking, movement, and dance; there are more! Here at Musicbuds, we harness the potential of songs to promote diversity and intentional inclusion. All our courses and resources first enhance caregivers and educators’ diversity awareness and knowledge, then we equip them with the songs and resources they’ll need to apply and impart their newfound knowledge to their children in a fun and engaging manner.
So, let’s now dive into today’s blog which will reveal how you too can leverage the power of songs to achieve intentional inclusion within your learning spaces!
The benefits of using songs for intentional inclusion:
Songs have numerous benefits for promoting intentional inclusion in early childhood education. Here is a brief introduction to eight such benefits with some songs that can help accomplish each point:
1. Fosters a sense of belonging and community:
Singing songs together can create a shared experience that helps children feel connected to one another, creating a sense of belonging and community in the classroom. “The Bare Necessities” from Disney’s The Jungle Book – a song that encourages children to appreciate the simple things in life and work together to achieve common goals.
2. Supports language development:
Songs can introduce children to new vocabulary and linguistic structures, helping them develop their language skills and increasing their ability to communicate with others. “The Incy Wincy Spider” – a classic nursery rhyme that features simple vocabulary and repetitive phrases, helping children to learn basic language skills.
3. Encourages cultural awareness:
Songs can be a great way to introduce children to different cultures, languages, and traditions, fostering an appreciation for diversity and helping children develop a broader worldview. “Frère Jacques” is a traditional French nursery rhyme that can introduce children to another language and culture.
4. Promotes empathy and understanding:
Inclusive songs celebrate differences and promote empathy, encouraging children to develop an understanding and appreciation for those who are different from themselves. “It’s Okay To Be Different” by Sesame Street is a song that celebrates diversity and teaches children to appreciate differences.
5. Enhances cognitive development:
Singing songs can help children develop their memory, attention, and other cognitive skills, enhancing their overall development. “The Alphabet Song” is a classic song that can help children learn the letters of the alphabet and improve their memory skills.
6. Supports emotional development:
Singing songs can be a fun and enjoyable activity for children, helping them regulate their emotions and providing a positive outlet for self-expression. “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is a fun and interactive song that encourages children to express their emotions.
7. Improves social skills:
Singing songs together can help children develop their social skills, such as turn-taking, sharing, and cooperation, which are important for building positive relationships with others. “Hokey Cokey” – a fun and interactive song that uses simple movements and encourages children to follow directions and work together in a group.
8. Boosts creativity and imagination:
Singing songs can be a creative and imaginative activity for children, encouraging them to think outside the box and come up with new ideas. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is a song that can inspire children’s imagination and creativity, encouraging them to think about the wonders of the universe.
Strategies for using songs to promote intentional inclusion:
There are many strategies that we, as our children’s caregivers and educators, can use to promote intentional inclusion through songs. Here are a few to get you started:
Choose songs with inclusive themes: We can intentionally choose songs that will promote our inclusive values and celebrate the diversity of our children and their community.
Discuss themes related to the song: We can use songs as a starting point for discussions about topics related to inclusion, such as empathy, diversity, and acceptance.
Sing songs in multiple languages: This exposes our children to different languages and cultures, while also teaching them to appreciate the diversity within their classroom. By teaching songs in languages spoken by their peers or that represent different cultures from their local community, we can promote inclusivity and celebrate our differences.
Incorporate movement and dance: This can help to better engage our children and make their learning experiences more interactive and enjoyable. We can encourage them to create their own movements to songs or to follow along with pre-determined movements that promote teamwork and coordination.
Encourage active participation We can use songs as springboards to encourage our children to participate in inclusive activities. For instance, we can encourage them to work together on collaborative projects or to share stories about their own experiences and cultures. This approach not only promotes inclusivity, but also enhances their creativity and social skills.
Tips for choosing inclusive songs:
TIP #1: Consider diversity: When selecting songs for intentional inclusion, it’s important to consider the diversity of the children in your classroom. Look for songs that represent as many of the different identities, cultures, and experiences of your children as possible. By including songs that celebrate the similarities and differences within your class and local community, you will be promoting empathy and providing your children with opportunities to learn how to appreciate and understand each other’s unique qualities.
TIP #2: Adapt the lyrics: One way to make songs more inclusive is to adapt the lyrics. For example, some traditional songs may use language or imagery that excludes some groups of children represented within your class or community. If so, be brave and have a go at changing the lyrics to make them more inclusive and reflective of your class. Alternatively, ask the children to create their own songs, encouraging them to include their own experiences and perspectives; they will love this!
TIP #3: Consider themes: It’s also important to consider the themes underpinning your song choices. For example, if you want to create a positive and inclusive learning environment, find some songs with lyrics promoting friendship, unity, and acceptance of differences!
As we have explored, using songs to promote intentional inclusion in early childhood education can have a powerful impact on creating a welcoming and supportive learning environment for our children.
By intentionally selecting inclusive songs and incorporating fun strategies such as singing in multiple languages, moving and dancing, and encouraging discussions, we can effortlessly promote empathy, deepen understanding, and foster a culture of respect and inclusivity in our classrooms.
So, let’s start singing and learning together!
Dr Clare Seymour
Clare has spent much of her professional career (over 30 years) in international settings. Part of her Doctoral research involved exploring the often hidden aspects of institutional racism. As a result she has a longstanding interest in, and passion for, promoting positive Diversity.
In addition to school music-teaching, Clare also has over 10 years’ experience working as an international music examiner – an understanding and respect for Diversity is so crucially important in every aspect of her practice.