Today’s entry is from our guest blogger Tamara Guo, M.Ed.
I love music, and I can’t imagine my life without it. Do you share my love of music? If so, maybe you didn’t realize that music is a vital learning experience for young children. Research has shown many positive impacts on children who are given an early appreciation of music.
“Studies show that 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds in heavily “academic” classes tend to become less creative and more anxious – without gaining significant advantages over their peers.”
Jane M. Healy
Your Child’s Growing Mind
I’m not advocating paying for Suzuki violin lessons at age 2, but there are many ways you can enrich your child’s life through music and singing that will have positive effects on his language, cognition, gross/fine motor, sensory and social skills.
Ever notice that your infant or toddler seems naturally interested in music? Do you see her attention increase or her eyes light up when you sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Wheels on the Bus” with her? That’s because music is language and children are often naturally drawn to music.
How does music benefit my child?
- Language: Music encourages speech, recognition of melody and patterns, tone & inflection
- Imitation Skills: Music encourages imitation of gestures, words, sounds, melodies
- Motor Movement: Music evokes movement and so many motor skills can be built into songs by dancing or moving with your child
- Social Skills: Music is a social experience and can involve the entire family
- Listening Skills: Music requires listening and aural skill development
- Brain Development: Music engages the brain while stimulating neural pathways associated with such higher forms of intelligence as abstract thinking, empathy, and mathematics.
- Creativity: Music involves expression of feelings
- Memory: Music requires memorization and remembering so you can sing along
- Sensory: Music involves swaying the body, clapping hands, stomping feet, shaking maracas or banging on a drum or tambourine
- Learning an Instrument: Music may indeed foster your child to want to pick up the guitar, piano, cello, saxophone, whatever you expose him or her to as a young child
What are some simple ways I can use music to promote my child’s developmental milestones?
- Make music an active, not passive experience. Instead of just listening to cds in the car (which is fine), play them at home where you can get up and dance, hop, jump, clap, stomp and move with your child.
- Sing the same familiar songs daily so your child learns them, and then begin to leave a word out and see if your child can fill in the blank. For example “Twinkle, twinkle, little____.” You’ll be delighted the first time your hear your child say “star!”
- Add instruments such as drums, shakers, tambourines, horns, pianos to your child’s toy chest.
- Use songs with gestures, such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Wheels on the Bus”, and if you don’t know songs with gestures make up your own or Google videos that show them online.
- Use music for routines, such as singing a “tooth brushing” or “clean up song”
- Use music to soothe, such as singing a lullaby or playing a favorite quiet cd before bedtime
- Share your favorite music with your kids, you don’t need to have toddler tunes on all day. Give them an appreciation of rock, soul, hip hop, blues and classical too!
- Take a family outing to a free musical concert or event
What ways do you engage in music with your child and family? We’d love to hear from you!