I’m a huge advocate of music and movement classes and activities for preschoolers. All of my preschool music lesson plans and the activities and songs that I share here on Teach Preschool Music are designed to be used as movement-based preschool music activities.
I can see how preschool teachers or parents could peek in on a music and movement class and assume there isn’t much going on.
It looks like the kids are just dancing around and being silly.
They’re just playing with toy instruments.
They’re not actually learning anything.
I often hear parents say things like,
“It looks fun, but I want my child to actually learn music.”
“I want my child to learn a musical instrument someday, why can’t we just start now?”
“My child needs to learn how to sit still and focus, so we want to learn music to practice that.”
I can completely understand these assumptions and this line of thinking. However, movement-based activities truly are the most developmentally appropriate way to help young children experience music.
I know that there are many wonderful preschool piano and music programs that help young children get started in the piano or other instruments. While I definitely endorse these programs, they can’t replace a child’s need to move.
If a child shows an early inclination towards playing an instrument, that interest should definitely be nurtured. But, intentional movement and activity with music should be a staple part of the early developmental years.
Children will be the most ready to thrive in future music lessons
- If they have had plenty of time to reach their developmental milestones relating to movement and coordination
- If the adults in their lives have cultivated a love and appreciation for music
- If they have have been given intentional opportunities to learn and move through music
Why Is Music And Movement Important For Preschoolers?
When it comes to preschoolers and movement, here’s the bottom line:
It’s a child’s job to move.
Young children shouldn’t be sitting still. It can be exhausting for parents, caregivers and teachers, but when a child is moving about, they are doing exactly what they should be doing.
They are learning how to use and coordinate their bodies so that they can become independent, learn more complex skills and as they get older they will learn how to do more focused and more specific tasks.
But for now, young children need to spend a lot of time moving their bodies. Music and movement classes are a perfect way to help them reach all of their movement-based milestones and to prepare them to learn a musical instrument later on.
While I focus on kids ages 0-5 here on Teach Preschool Music, I don’t think this need for movement expires once a child starts school. In fact, it’s just as important for older kids to continue learning through movement and practicing coordination and motor skills.
What Do Preschoolers Learn Through Music And Movement?
As adults, it’s easy to take for granted all that young children are learning. Every milestone that a young child is working through from clapping, to walking to moving an egg shaker to a beat is preparing them for another more complex milestone in the future.
You can find a detailed list of many of the musical benefits of preschool music classes in this post, but here are the highlights:
- Coordination – Learning simultaneous body movements is necessary for future music study.
- Gross and Fine Motor Skills – Young children need to master gross motor skills such as walking, running and clapping before they can move on to more fine motor skills such as holding a pencil or playing piano keys.
- Literacy Skills – Literacy and music go hand in hand. Recognizing numbers, letters words and language is a huge part of learning music.
- Creativity and Self Expression – Music is so relatable to nearly every individual. Children who have many early musical experiences are set up for a lifetime of having a creative outlet and new ways to express their thoughts and feelings.
- Following Directions – Following directions is important in nearly every facet of life, but especially in playing music. Movement and music activities give children a chance to hone their skills at listening to and following directions.
- Sequencing – Music and movement activities give kids plenty of opportunities to learn that certain activities have multiples steps and that they go in a certain order.
This short list just scratches the surface of all of that is happening in when preschoolers are engaged in music and movement. Read More: How Music Benefits Young Children
How Does Music And Movement Prepare Preschoolers To Learn An Instrument?
All of the skills (and many more) listed above are vital parts of playing a musical instrument. Intentional time with music and movement sets preschoolers up for success so that when they have more opportunities to learn music later on it feels natural. Often, children who have been given music music and movement opportunities are curious and excited to learn more about music. It isn’t forced.
One of the most important aspects of learning music at any age is that it must internalized. You have to feel music within your body in order to play it correctly. The best way to internalize music is to move with it.
There are many, many layers to learning music. There are many skills that are happening at the same time. It is complex and full of the finest details.
You can see how deliberately practicing the skills needed to play an instrument throughout the preschool years helps children to put it all together once they have a chance to play an instrument.
How Can Adults Encourage Movement And Music In Preschoolers?
This simplest way an adult can encourage movement to music in a preschool-aged child is to provide consistent exposure to a variety of music.
However, keep in mind that there is a difference between turning on music and just letting a child move freely to the music and using music to help children acquire specific skills.
Definitely let children be free and creative with music, but balance that time with more focused listening to music and more structured activity. This is where music learning becomes more intentional.
Be aware of the age-appropriate developmental milestones a child should be learning. In the early years, milestones involve simple tasks like shaking a shaker to a beat or jumping to the music. As a preschooler grows, milestones become more complex: combining movements such as moving arms and legs at the same time, creating patterns with an instrument such as clap-tap-clap-tap, or remembering a specific sequence of instructions.
See if you have access to a movement-based preschool music class in your area. These classes are ideal for young children and combine music learning with all of the appropriate developmental milestones your child should be learning.
Start Your Own Music and Movement Class For Preschoolers
Music and movement classes fit perfectly in an existing preschool setting, but they can also be taught from a home, a music studio or other community spaces.
While it helps to have a good understanding of music, you don’t necessarily need any formal degrees or a high level of music training to be a preschool music teacher.
Parents of young children often make wonderful preschool music teachers. People who love working with and caring for young children are a good candidate.
If you’re interested in starting your own preschool music class, my Teach Preschool Music curriculum was designed for you.
It walks you though everything you need in order to understand what goes into preparing for and implementing a preschool music class. It makes it easy by giving you all of the tools you need to offer classes for your first year and beyond.
You can learn more here.