The exposure to music at an early age has incredible benefits for children. Music provides better emotional development, higher academic performance, improved memory, and enhanced creativity. Music helps children use words, manipulate tools and media, and solve problems in ways that convey meaning and are engaging. Each song sung, musical instrument played, and piece of music appreciated provides insights into a child’s interests, abilities, and knowledge.
From birth, an infant is receptive to sounds and music, and instinctively responds through physical and emotional expressions. Music quiets and soothes, brings joy and energy, and improves social and motor skills. Music even sets the stage for learning language and mathematics.
Music and movement have become an increasingly important aspect of children’s day-to-day lives—on a par with mathematics, science, literature, etc. Children have a natural reaction to listening to music from the moment it reaches their ears. Giving them the space to release pent-up energy during a music and movement activity allows for freedom of creativity. It’s been said that music and movement improve memory, cognitive development, learning skills, and expressive ability.
There are several ways to add music and movement into everyday routines. The easiest way is to simply schedule time for music and movement—a time when music is played and children can move. But, that’s just one of the many ways music and movement can be introduced into a child’s day. Below are just a few simple activities to incorporate music and movement.
- Throw on some child-friendly music and provide an ample amount of space for children to respond to the music creatively. Join in when you’re sure children feel safe to explore what it feels like to enjoy the music.
- Incorporate songs that encourage different movements. For example, there are certain songs that have established dances (e.g., “TootyTa,” “Boom Chicka Boom,” “The Hokey Pokey,” and “I Can Move My Body Like Anything”) that are useful in bringing the children together.
- Dance scarves! Give children varying colored scarves that they can use during music and movement. Watch as their movements become a sea of color.
- As children gain a better understanding of what music is, introduce instruments into music and movement. Show them the different sounds each instrument can make (the difference between a metal triangle and a shaker, for example). Let them move their instruments with the beat of the music.
- Introduce the idea of rhythm and rhyme, and tempo and pitch as they gain a better understanding of what music is. Go around in a circle and give them the opportunity to create similar patterns they hear in songs with the instruments they have.
By exploring musical concepts and expressions, and by experiencing dance and movement to music, your little one is learning critical skills that can lead to future success.