People are naturally attracted to music. In fact, music brings people together regardless of age and where they are from. Children, too, start early and actually begin to respond to sound when they are in their mother’s womb.
As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow aptly said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.”
Babies can enjoy music even when they are still in their mother’s womb.
Music plays a big role in a child’s early life and development. We use lullabies to rock our babies to sleep, dance to rhythmic tunes with them, and even use songs to teach basic concepts such as the alphabet.
In fact, early childhood programs like Kinderland always include music and movement activities in their classes. Their Children’s Music Programme supports the Ministry of Education’s emphasis on developing children’s music and physical abilities at a young age. You can say that music has been at the heart of the Kinderland curriculum since it started in Singapore 35 years ago.
According to Kinderland curriculum director Dr. Carol Loy, the following are the numerous benefits of music for children.
Teaching little ones can be easier and more enjoyable if done with the help of music.
1. Music helps develop language, literacy and communications skills.
Music stimulates the various senses and helps children in learning and improving language skills.
Music also develops listening, reading and writing skills, improving fluency of speech, and communication. Through singing songs, kids can learn new words in a fun way and of course learn how to pronounce them.
According to a paper published in 2012, “Frontiers in Cognitive Auditory Neuroscience” by Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and University of Maryland, College Park, “infants listen first to sounds of language and only later to its meaning.”
Music can help develop your child’s listening and concentration skills too.
2. Music enhances physical development.
Through playing easy instruments such as drums and other percussion instruments, kids learn crucial coordination skills. Hand-eye coordination is improved when they continually practice beating the drum and bringing cymbals together.
Exploring musical instruments also improves gross motor skills when partnered with moving about, like marching in a pretend band. On the other hand, simply dancing to different rhythms also allows kids to develop whole body coordination.
3. Music helps develop cognitive skills.
Singing along to favorite songs and listening to classical music stimulate different patterns of brain development.
Children’s memory power, concentration, spatial intelligence, and thinking skills improve through exposure and active participation in musical experiences.
For example, when kids are asked to jump backwards, they learn where their bodies are in relation to space, which is an important developmental skill.
A great way to enhance your kid’s coordination and rhythm is to let them dance to up-beat music.
4. Music enhances individual development.
Through music-making, kids develop social-emotional skills, such as better self-control, higher self-esteem and confidence.
By simply playing music in groups and working in teams, kids learn to give and take, wait for their turn, and encourage those who are struggling to keep up with the group. All of these experiences help in school readiness.
5. Music’s form and structure can bring order and security.
Dr. Carol says that soothing tunes played during nap time help children to calm down. Even if they aren’t really sleepy at the time, they would lie still and listen to the music being played.
Another example is when a child undergoes a cool down period after physical exercise; music helps to slow down the pulse and heart rate, lower blood pressure, and calm the child.
Through remembering lyrics, your child can increase her vocabulary.
6. Music encourages early brain development.
The early years of childhood is a period of rapid development. Researchers believe that the earlier a child is exposed to music, the more effectively his brain responds to stimulation.
In addition, music aptitude can and should be influenced in the younger years. Music training (through playing and listening to music) before the age of seven has significant effect on parts of the brain related to planning and motor skills.
Kids can have fun finding rhythm and melody in everyday life – for instance the sound of a flowing stream can be very relaxing!
Making music part of your child’s life
If your child studies music in school or goes to private lessons, make his musical experiences go beyond the scheduled music class time.
Encourage your child to listen to natural rhythms and music such as the beautiful harmony in the chirps of a little bird, the calming sound of a flowing stream and the percussion-like rhythm of a rainy day. Children, after all, learn more effectively through daily experiences and activities.
You can also make music fun at home by playing simple games with your kids. For instance, you can ask your child to imitate sounds he hears like the ring tone of your phone, the chime of the door bell, or even sounds that insects make.
Kids can also be exposed to a variety of music genres – it does not necessarily need to be only children’s songs. The key is to expose kids to some kind of music – be it classical, folk, contemporary, or even jazz.
Expose your child to a variety of musical experiences and watch him reap the many benefits of music for children.
So mums, how do you incorporate music into your child’s life? Let us know by leaving a comment below.