This morning over breakfast I was listening to the radio, and was aware how the different pieces impacted on me – some more upbeat, some more gentle and calming. I don’t know about you, but I play different types of music for specific moods – if I’m feeling a bit ‘flat’ I put on something like “Pink”, and if I’m feeling hassled, I put on gentle classical music, or “Enya”. We can utilise this with children too – you can use music to enhance their moods, to help ‘lift’ them when needed, or to calm them at other times.
From an early age we use lullabies to soothe our babies, and often sing them to sleep – this is true whatever your cultural background. It’s the tone of your voice, which settles them. As they get older, they like things with a stronger beat – you’ll often see toddlers bopping to a beat. Toddlers also like nursery rhymes and songs, and will join in with the words and actions. Even a 1 year old will often wave their hands in the air, to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
Socially: Children have fun with music – to sing, to play instruments, to dance, to join in with the actions. They derive a sense of achievement in participating, which is great for their self-esteem.
Physically: Joining in with music through dance provides opportunity for Gross Motor (large muscle) development, and spatial awareness (learning ‘their’ space, and how not to bump into others). Certain musical instruments also promote fine motor co-ordination, through playing with them eg piano type instruments. Playing instruments also promotes hand-eye co-ordination, and listening skills.
Emotionally: Happiness, enjoyment and confidence building are positive emotional benefits which are enhanced through music.
Intellectually: Music helps to develop their imagination, creativity and a sense of rhyme.
Language: Learning new words, and the sequence of words are developed through singing.
When you notice young babies moving to music, comment on it and join in with them – there often much laughter and smiling!
Put on music and dance with your child – they often like to do this in front of a mirror so that they can watch themselves.
Do mood dancing – toddlers often really enjoy if you show them how to dance pretending to be happy or cranky, or sad – allowing different emotions to be explored. Also dance fast and dance slow. And children love standing on your feet, and allowing you to waltz them around the room!
Help children to develop an awareness of sound comes from you pointing out noises to babies and toddlers – ask if they can hear the clock ticking, or the postmans bike – ie alerting them to sounds and the skill of listening. This is why it’s important to have the TV off regularly, so that children can tune their ears in to more subtle sounds.
You can buy instruments, or make your own version of them – toddlers and children will enjoy joining in with this. There are many suggestions via the internet.
Babies enjoy bells, ‘soft’ maracas, tambourines, and of course – saucepans and a wooden spoon to bang on them!
Toddlers enjoy the same, plus drums, and keyboard type instruments.
The Maths and music centres in the brain are close together. It’s not quite understood, but children who have lots of music in their lives tend to do better in Maths subjects at school than those who don’t. So, put on the music and sing and dance!
Remember, that music belongs to everyone, and that enthusiasm is more important than ability!
Image by Woodley Wonder Works via Flickr