Throughout our lives, most people love some type of music. It doesn’t matter our background, skills or preferences – there is music that makes everyone happy and it starts at a young age. Do you know why music is important for your child?
Music is one of the few activities that engages both sides of the brain. At a young age, it helps form neural pathways that are beneficial for motor skill development, emotional intelligence and creativity.
Here are some simple ways that music can be beneficial to your child…and you!
- Music develops skills - Music is multi-modal, which means it addresses multiple areas of development such as speech and language, fine and gross motor skills, social development, spatial awareness, academic skills, as well as sensory needs. The effects are endless! Your child will think they are having fun with music, and at the same time are learning and developing their brains on so many different levels. How do you do this? Sing a familiar song such as “baa baa black sheep” while clapping hands with your child. Emphasize the shape of your mouth as you sing “baa baa” so that your child can see and imitate the sounds that you are creating.
- Music is structured - In early stages of life, infants and toddlers are developing a sense of trust. They have complete dependency on the caregiver and when their needs are met, that creates security. Music is structured sound. It has a predictability that meets the instinctual needs of an infant, therefore provides a sense of comfort. Combining emotional comfort with soothing and structured sounds can make soothing a baby more effective. How do you do this? Create a sequence of lullaby songs that you sing for your child every night in the same order. The sequence will provide predictability and soothe your baby to sleep.
- Music is emotional – Music can evoke such emotion. It encourages personal expression as well as helps form connections. It also creates shared experiences, and is a powerful way to communicate with your little one. How do you do this? Pick a few songs that are your favorites and sing them all the time. Most likely these will turn into lifelong memories and will be sung to your grandchildren! And don’t be shy about your voice, it is the first thing your child heard. But if you truly are, you can also create a playlist on your iPod.
- Music is motivating - Since music is enjoyable, children are often more engaged and motivated when music is involved. This increases their level of engagement and attention, which leads to increased opportunities for learning and exploration. How do you do this? Pair a skill you are trying to develop with a melody to a familiar song or a made up melody. For instance, if working on crawling, crawl on the ground as you sing “the ants go marching” while moving with the steady rhythm. Instead of using the typical words, insert your child’s name. “Noah goes crawling one by one hurrah, hurrah”. Not only does this encourage the crawling, it also introduces him to sequencing numbers and encourages singing with the “ah” in “hurrah”!
What else can you do? Incorporate music into play! There are so many ways to do this:
Sing classic children’s songs (like “row, row, row your boat” or ”10 little ducks” – lyrics are available online for so many free songs) or even sing some of your favorites…make up silly songs about things you do together like brushing their teeth or cleaning up their toys…listen to any type of music during meals or playtime, or even in the car (it may soothe them and make the car ride go by faster)…drum a beat on the highchair tray or your lap (but be warned, they may start to drum on anything, anywhere!).…or play soothing music before bed.
By incorporating music into their lives every day, they will absorb all the benefits of music and you’ll both have fun doing it! Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything”. As parents, we want our children to fly, and music can help take them where nothing else can.