Have you ever wondered about the importance of music to a child’s development? Or what are the benefits of listening to different kinds of music? Did you realize when you were in the car with your child singing at the top of your lungs while your little one sways back and forth and clapping their hands with excitement that you were teaching your child about language, motor, cognitive and social skills?
Children enjoy music from the minute they are born. This is especially true of music they heard when they were still in the womb. They are attracted to rhythm, tempo, and the beat of the music. Just like all of us, music can make children feel happy or calm, it can make then feel sleepy, or it can inspire them to get up and dance. Children love movement and when they are listening to music, they are swaying, bouncing, dancing, marching and clapping. They are having fun, and at the same time developing important motor skills.
One kind of music so important to a child’s development is instrumental music. This gives children a chance to hear the different instruments being used without being distracted with language. They can concentrate on what the music sounds like and they become interested what instruments make the different sounds they hear.
Another musical experience enjoyed by children is singing! Children don’t care what you are singing or that you have an “interesting” voice. You can sing about driving them to daycare, about your day, or about the day your child was born. Singing helps babies distinguish between a singing voice and a speaking voice, and it helps them to produce sounds in patterns and rhythms that match those of others. When you sing to your infant, before you know it your little one will be singing right along with you!
And what about making music? We have all had those days when we think just can’t listen to a little one pound on a drum or bangs the pots and pans together for one more minute! But when we understand what the child is learning from this experience, the banging can become a little easier to tolerate. Because music is a sensory experience, the neurological networks in the brain are stimulated in areas different from those used in language. And the youngest child can benefit from experiencing music and musical instruments, even if all they are doing chewing and tasting the instrument. In these situations, infants are learning what the object feels like, how heavy it is, and what noise it makes when moved around. Musical experiences like these stimulate a child’s brain, help them increase their motor skills and self-awareness and also help improve their attention span.
When children explore and experiment, regardless of what skills they are working on, they are successful. This sense of accomplishment promotes a child’s desire to extend their learning experiences. So the next time you are looking for something fun to do with your child, just turn on some music and dance or make your own music and sing!
-The Flaherty I/T Staff