Musical Routines

If you live or work with young children, you probably already know how helpful routines can be.  PBS explains the importance of predictable routines for children in childcare settings in this article.   Routines help kids feel a sense of security, support their development, and can help manage problem behaviors.  Even when kids are familiar with their routine, though, they may have trouble following directions during transitions (moving from one activity to the next) and potentially difficult activities (brushing teeth, washing hands).

Music can help make transitions easier and difficult activities more fun.

Transitioning from one activity to the next can be hard for young children – especially if it’s time to put the toys away and take a nap.  Have you ever sung a “clean up” song?  I learned this one from a child a long time ago and have used it ever since.  It’s simple, easy to sing, and catches the kids’ attention.

Tip: Sing the clean up song repeatedly while the kids clean up.  When they’re almost done, stop singing and say, “Thanks for helping clean up! I’m going to sing it one more time, and then it’s time for all the toys to be put away so we can wash our hands and eat lunch.”  This gives the kids a timeline that’s easy to understand and helps them prepare for what’s coming next.

You can sing during other transitions too!  Take a simple melody like Frère Jacques and change the words to describe what it’s time to do.  Try something like this after outdoor play time:

Let’s go in now.  Let’s go in now.
Come inside.  Come inside.
Time to go inside now. Time to go inside now.
Come inside.  Come inside.

Some activities are difficult for children.  My 12 month old daughter is not fond of getting her teeth brushed.   I’m using the tune of Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush to help her get accustomed to it.  I hum the tune while holding her and brushing my teeth, then put down my toothbrush and say, “Mommy’s all done!  My teeth are so clean now.  Your turn!”  When I pick up her toothbrush I sing the tune with these lyrics:

This is the way we brush our teeth.
Brush our teeth, brush our teeth.
This is the way we brush our teeth.
Brush, brush our teeth.

Joyful Melodies Music TherapyShe still fights me a little bit, but I know it would be much harder for both of us if I simply held her down without demonstrating or explaining.  The music helps grab her attention so that she really observes when I brush my teeth and learns what she needs to do.

Have you ever used music to support your daily routine with children?  Please share in the comments!

With joy,


2 thoughts on “Musical Routines

  1. Mary says:

    What a great idea!! My LO loves music and I never thought to use it as a transitioning tool! I’m going to try it tonight!

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