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11, March, 2022 | EMPOWERING TEACHERS

Here’s How Music Can Benefit Your Child


children dancing
Children and teachers engage in a music and movement session at Learning Matters.

Music is a universal language that everyone enjoys. Children all over the world revel in the joys of music and rhythm and can benefit immensely from it. The calming nature of a lullaby or the sheer joy of dancing to music cuts across all cultures. No celebration is complete without music. As a Learning Matters educator, I have used music to help children express their emotions, calm down, play with spoken sounds, or even clean up without a fuss.

Children are instinctively drawn to music and use it to express themselves. Young children often sing to themselves as they play. They make up songs without being self-conscious. Preschoolers enjoy singing for singing’s sake. Given a safe environment, they are not nervous about their ability, instead are eager to roar!

Music also helps them with growth and development, making it an indispensable part of their routine. Let’s take a look at some of the key ways movement and music benefits children:

Strengthens the Mind: 

Music ignites all areas of development and skills for young children— emerging intellect, social-emotional, language and motor skills. Participating in music and movement helps the body and mind work together while strengthening the aural sound system and memory in children. 

Some research suggests that musical intelligence is located in a special separate area of the brain. Other studies show that in cultures where musical play is actively encouraged, children show heightened competencies in motor and communication skills at an early age. Music is a primary medium for learning and development.

Helps Develop Language: 

Since music doesn’t require children to know set words and is abstract, children find it easy to use music to express their emotions. Further, the repetitive phrases of many children’s songs and games help to reinforce patterns that gradually become the foundation for more complex forms of expressive language. Fingerplays, counting rhymes and songs about daily life help very young children tune in to the unique tones and phrases of their linguistic environment. 

The baby coos along when a mother of a seven-month-old cuddles her and sings, “hush little baby, don’t say a word, mama’s going to buy you a mockingbird.” Imitating animal or machine sounds in songs also offers opportunities to expand sound play which is natural to young children. 

Wordplay and story songs with chorus and verse such as “she’ll be coming down the mountain” challenge the memory and growing language skills of four to six-year-olds. 

Encourages Socialisation:

children playing in a circle
With music, children feel more comfortable to interact with each other.

Just like adults consider music conducive to social interaction, for children too, music is beneficial to socialising. A study by writer Peter deVries concluded that music activities serve to stimulate the socialisation process in preschool children. When children were engaged in singing, they discussed with each other whether they liked the songs, before, during and after the singing.  They also discussed why they liked a song.  When they finished singing a song, children would yell out statements to express their opinions such as, “that was fun, let’s do it again.” 

Listening to others, being able to pick up on subtle auditory and visual cues, holding your own pattern while being able to hear and respond to the total group sound. These are all complex processes and social cues that can be learned through music.

Improves Cognitive Abilities: 

child jumping on a block
Regular movement and physical activities help with quicker cognitive development.

 

Through movement, children experience how the mind and body work together. When children crawl, run and jump, they are taking in information. Kinesthetic intelligence includes all kinds of information and concepts one can learn through physical activity. For some children, kinesthetic intelligence is the most effective way of acquiring information and working with new ideas. 

The same applies to music. Children, who are exposed to music at an early age simply by listening to it in the background, can enhance their memory, listening and retention skills. If children show interest in playing an instrument and the parent promotes it, that can help improve focus.  Music therapists have also long observed the effect music activity can have on children with special needs. It can help them develop self-awareness, a sense of organisation and confidence in their ability to communicate with others. 

Conclusion:

Early exposure to music and movement can give your child a headstart in terms of developing language, physical agility, cognitive growth and socialising with their peers. Once again, remember that just like play for young children which should be open-ended, so should music and movement. Exposing them to music only so they would dance or sing a rhyme in front of others will start to seem like work to the child. They can only truly enjoy and learn from it when it comes without conditions. 

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