Singing and dancing to music is a lot of fun – especially for young children. But did you know that these enjoyable activities can actually contribute to babies’ and toddlers’ development and help them to hone important skills? Let’s take a look at the benefits of music in early years.
Everyone needs an outlet for their emotions. If you’re still learning to speak, it’s often really difficult to communicate, so music provides an important way for young children to express themselves non-verbally. Music can tap into lots of different feelings and moods; it can be happy or sad, energetic or sleepy. Moving, dancing, singing and clapping spontaneously along to music in the early years can help children to tune into their emotions and process their feelings.
Learning new words isn’t easy, as you’ll know if you’ve ever attempted to master a new language. What’s needed is lots of repetition and practice – and music is a great vehicle for this. The repetitive nature of nursery rhymes and songs helps children to memorise and repeat the words they hear, offering an accessible, familiar and fun way for children to expand their vocabulary. But it’s not just about the fully-formed words in songs; babies and toddlers exposed to music in the early years are more adept at listening and distinguishing the different sounds that form the building blocks of language development.
Music as a memory aid
Have you ever stopped to marvel at how children manage to learn the alphabet, or to count to ten? Even before the sounds and words make sense in context, toddlers can often recite these perfectly, and that’s all down to the power of music as a memory aid. Combining words with a catchy tune that can be repeated over and over again is a remarkably effective way for children (and adults) to memorise important sequences.
The beauty of music in early years is that it can be enjoyed in a group. Even before children are ready to play together or take turns with toys, they can benefit from the shared experience of making music together and learn to listen, co-operate and collaborate in a group setting.
While your little one is getting their groove on to their favourite tunes, they’re also unknowingly developing their motor skills. Moving in time to a rhythm, dancing, singing and playing simple percussion instruments are all physical activities that give children encouragement and confidence in their bodies. Using and controlling their voices and co-ordinating their movements are important musical skills that help children’s physical development.
As a parent, you’ve probably found that your child’s mood isn’t always in tune with their surroundings, the activity you’re trying to do, or the time of day. But music in early years can have a powerful effect on children’s moods; calm them down for a nap with soothing lullabies or help them get psyched up for playtime with an energising track.