In today’s day and age, parents have all the information the Internet can hold at their fingertips when it comes to what can help their children. Music is heralded as one of the best methods of stimulating development, but how does it work? For starters, music positively affects all areas of child development, helping them develop intellectually, socially, and emotionally.
Music can also improve motor, language, and literacy skills in young children, as it teaches them to link the mind and the body. For example, songs with lyrics have been proven to help children learn the sounds and meanings of words, while dancing to music can improve motor skills and self-expression.
Music and memory also go hand in hand. Much of the development of a child’s working memory is done within the first 2-3 years of his life. Signs of development include increased attention, gradual language acquisition, and an increase in general knowledge of the world around them. Adding music into the mix can help ensure steady development. Song lyrics are one way that children can expand their vocabulary, and music makes for a good stimulus to hold attention, especially when combined with their toys.
Music doesn’t only help babies develop memory, however. It can be extremely useful for older children as well, as in the case of programming like Schoolhouse Rock, which helps kids remember facts about America’s history, government and more by setting them to catchy music. The mere mention of “Conjunction Junction” or “I’m Just a Bill” can bring forth a wealth of knowledge about grammar or laws, and that’s all down to music.
Since music can help with memory and other skills right up into adulthood, it’s important to start exposing children to music as soon as possible. So how can you incorporate music into your child’s life? You can choose from many ways, depending on how old your child is.
Infants can recognize melodies long before they understand words, and can often be seen and heard attempting to mimic sounds and move around in response to music. Quiet background songs can be the best option for infants, as it proves to be soothing, and louder music can overstimulate them. Try singing short and simple songs in a soft, high voice–you might even consider making up your own!
When it comes to toddlers, repetition becomes the key to music, as it encourages memorization and the use of words. Playing songs they can move around to is something your toddler will likely enjoy. You could also try singing a familiar song (like the Itsy Bitsy Spider) while replacing one word with an unfamiliar word (like “The itsy bitsy kitty”) and letting your toddler correct the mistake.
Once your child reaches school age, songs that promote learning become especially helpful. Most children at this age enjoy songs that revolve around counting, spelling, or remembering a sequence of events. Songs and musical activities that focus on school subjects can be quite effective during this developmental stage. Just think: how did we all learn the alphabet? By singing the ABC’s song! At this time, children also usually begin to express likes and dislikes of different types of music, and they may even show an interest in taking musical lessons. And who knows? In using music to aid your child’s development, you just might foster a lifelong love of music along the way.
For more information, check out Bright Horizon’s ArtSmart curricula by clicking here.
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