Eight-month-old Adam’s eyes light up upon hearing his grandmother sing their special song and he gleefully babbles a response back to her.
15-month-old Katie bounces up and down exuberantly to the music emanating from the family stereo.
2-1/2-year-old Audrey chimes in joyfully each time she hears the familiar refrain of her favorite song.
These early and natural responses to music allow us to peer into the incredible window of learning that music provides for young children.
Musical experiences in early childhood have the power to impact every area of a child’s development. To understand the connection between music and a child’s physical, social-emotional and cognitive development, it is important to recognize that sensory experiences are the basis for all learning in early childhood.
Music Gets Kids Moving!
The benefits of music in early childhood are perhaps most obvious in the area of physical development. Engaging in singing and movement games and playing simple rhythm instruments create challenging experiences that support fine and gross motor skill development and overall coordination and timing.
Even before children are able to do these activities themselves, parents instinctively engage in singing, rocking, bouncing, dancing and musical play activities with their babies. These activities provide important sensory stimulation that supports the development of head, neck and torso control, balance, and body awareness. But the physical benefits inherent in musical activities are only part of the picture.
The Social-Emotional Side of Music:
For the young child, music is most often experienced as part of playtime and daily rituals carried out by parents and other family members. These early musical contexts convey a strong connection to the people and emotions associated with them. This makes music the ideal medium to stimulate social-emotional development.
The benefits that music making imparts on a young child’s social-emotional development are significant. To the pre-verbal child, music provides a form of communication that transcends spoken language. Long before an infant can understand the spoken words “I love you”, he can feel the warmth and security of his mother’s arms, see the love in her eyes, and be calmed by her rocking movements as she sings a lullaby. In this way, music enhances the bonding experience between parent and child and contributes to the development of trust so essential to emotional development.
The songs of childhood naturally encourage social interaction first with adult caregivers and later with peers in both formal and informal music settings.
Written by Helene Silver Freda,www.santaclaritamagazine.com,www.msidallas.com