Thousands of Minnesota children are failing to learn to read and perform math well enough to succeed in school and beyond (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments). The achievement gap in Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) is still as large as it was when data was first collected in 1992. Not only have new curriculums failed to close the gap, they are resulting in disengaged, unmotivated students and unhappy, over-stressed teachers. More time has been allocated to reading and math by taking it away from eating, talking, moving and singing.
This is a serious mistake. Singing is a natural, primary source for learning that activates more areas of the brain than any other activity. Singing folksongs, playing games and moving attract and enliven children, cross-train their brains to enable them to build vocabulary, fluency, and automacity and retention of skiils and concepts. Children’s “play” is actually their “work”.
Some MPS kids are beating the odds because their classroom teachers have taken the courses, Want to Teach Reading and Math? Try Singing! and A Song a Day. Their students are singing down the halls, on the busses and at home. Not only are they posting higher achievement in reading and math, teachers report that their students are happier, and that they are happier, too:
My kids…are still loving school and the singing is a big part of it. Their fluency has gone up.
When I applied singing…with my students it was as if a bomb of enthusiasm had struck the class (high school teacher).
...the learning was looked upon by the children as ‘playing a game’. It was considered ‘fun’ and not ‘work’.