It’s not often that parents stop and think about the significance music has on their little one’s life.
Consider how many times you’ve sung a lullaby or held your baby in your arms and danced around the house.
There’s a reason why we naturally incorporate music into our children’s lives – it has a significantly positive impact on their development.
But to maximize their positive effects, you should make as many efforts as you can to include music in your child’s life.
Which, to be honest, is not hard at all.
Keep reading to find out how music affects your little one’s brain development and how you can engage your child in musical play:
Music and Brain Development
Many scientific studies have known that experiencing music during childhood can help in brain development, particularly in the areas of language and reading.
Likewise, learning how to play an instrument can help improve math skills.
Apart from academic benefits, music benefits all areas of child development: intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language and overall literacy. It also aids in learning the sounds and meanings of words as well as strengthens memory skills.
Dancing to music helps children build motor skills and allows them to practice self-expression.
The Benefits of Music For Children
Want to know more? Here are some ways in which music is beneficial to specific areas of your child’s development:
Humans process sound the same way we process speech. Music helps children enhance their listening skills and improve the way they process language.
When children learn how to play an instrument, they learn how to hear and process sounds as well as develop the ability to recognize distinctions between certain sounds.
And, because the mechanisms for processing sound and speech are similar, this can help improve literacy.
Increased Language Skills
Studies have suggested that children can learn a second language through musical training, lending to the idea that music helps extend the period of time that the brain is developing and processing complex auditory input.
This allows the brain to better create language-related networks and improve children’s ability to detect subtle differences between sounds and pronunciations, enhancing their ability to learn language skills (native or otherwise).
Fun fact? This works for adults as well! If you had musical training as a child, you may be able to learn a foreign language quicker and more easily than those who did not.
When looking at the effects of music on the brain of infants and children, scientists have found that singing and learning to play a musical instrument can improve memory and focus.
Play music in a group and with other people can enhance this benefit since playing and singing together requires a higher degree of attention and focus.
Better Spatial Reasoning Skills
Spatial reasoning is the ability to locate and move objects and ourselves, either mentally or physically, in space.
Classical music, in particular, has been shown to improve spatial reasoning skills. This is attributed to the fact that classical music is mathematical and has a more complex structure than other forms of music – so the pathways we use to process classical music are the same as the ones we use for spatial reasoning.
Listening to music, however, only has temporary effects on spatial reasoning skills. Children who learn how to play instruments end up experience the creation of new pathways in their brains.
Improved Social-Emotional Skills
Music is often a shared experience and gives children an opportunity to learn and practice many socio-emotional skills.
For instance, since music and song are often used to soothe young children, doing so is supporting their development of self-regulation.
It also helps them understand their emotions since music evokes feelings and can describe specific emotional experiences. As an adult, there are probably certain songs that make you cry and ones that help you feel happy and uplifted!
Even simple songs such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It” help to teach children actions and expressions related to specific emotions.
Physical and Motor Skills
Singing requires the activation of muscles in the lips. The small muscles of the hand are used to hold a drumstick while the larger muscles are required to dance or shake a maraca.
Music supports physical and motor skills such as gross motor development and fine motor development.
Physical and motor skills are an important part of a child’s development, especially when they start school and engage in activities such as writing and cutting as well as physical activities such as physical education.
How to Engage Your Child in Musical Play
You don’t need fancy instruments or expensive equipment to engage your child in musical play!
Just like every stage of development, what your child is capable of will change as they grow.
When they are infants, they are not physically capable of doing much – but simply singing to them as you rock or sway them is enough to expose them to musical sounds.
As they grow and are able to hold and manipulate objects, items such as shakers (or even a wooden spoon and a pot) are the first step in helping them develop a sense of rhythm. Over time, you’ll notice them shaking or banging along to a beat!
Once they are able to stand, you’ll likely find them bobbing to music in an effort to dance. Eventually, they will start to incorporate stepping and arm movements into their routine.
By the age of 4 or 5, most children are able to memorize lengthy lyrics and play a wide range of simple instruments (or at least attempt more complicated ones such as a piano).
To engage your child in musical play, try these following tips:
- Sing to them when they are small.
- Let them bang on pots and pans.
- Have dance parties.
- Make DIY instruments such as sand in plastic easter eggs or beans in toilet paper rolls.
- Make up songs together.
- Watch child-friendly musicals.
- Play dance songs such as freeze dance, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and the “Hokey Pokey”.
- Play music while in the car, making dinner, etc.
- Explore sounds made by common objects, such as opening and closing doors or banging on the side of the tub.
- Sing songs to help your child remember how to do tasks, like brushing teeth or tying shoes.
- Play a “listen and draw” game by listening to music and having your child draw what they are thinking of.
- As your child gets older, introduce them to different musical artists and use Google to learn about them.
The Importance of Music for Your Child’s Development
The way in which your child develops involves a complex pattern of growth between their mind and their body.
Music is one of those enjoyable activities that has a positive impact on many different areas of your little one’s growth and development.
Plus, music is just fun. How happy do kids look when they are singing and dancing around?
How do you and your child incorporate music into your lives? Let us know in the comments!