There’s no doubt that music plays a significant role in the development of young children. Simply observing a child and how they respond to and react with music will show you the power that music has on kids in their earliest years.
Music can be equally calming and energizing for children. It can change their mood, help them cope and make them happy – just like it can for adults.
It’s never too early to introduce music to children; starting at birth is ideal. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even early elementary-aged children are all have natural inclinations towards music.
Let’s explore just a handful of the benefits children will receive when their caregivers are intentional about nurturing a musical environment.
- Gross Motor Skills – As children are developing, it’s their job to move. They learn how to roll, support themselves to sit, then eventually crawl, walk and run. They learn how to control their arms and hands. All of these large movements must be practiced consistently. Children are naturally practicing these skills day in and day out, but using music to encourage movement will bring awareness to just how important all of these foundational skills are.
- Fine Motor Skills – Over time, children will hone in on finer motor skills. They will learn how to work with their fingers, grasp things, feed themselves, touch and aim for specific things. These fine motor skills are vital for developing children and music presents the perfect avenue to nurture them.
- Parent-Child Bonding – The time spent with music can be very intentional. Parents and caregivers can give their children their full attention. Children are able to thrive in the comfort and safety of their parents. Children love feeling the closeness of a parent when rocking to sleep to soft music or to share joy when having fun dancing and singing with music.
- Sensitivity – Music exposes children to a variety of musical styles and children quickly learn that different kinds of music can tap in to different emotions. Becoming sensitive to a variety of emotions help children to relate to others, feel empathy and understand their own emotions better.
- Language Development – Reading stories, rhyming, experimenting and playing with words and singing songs are all opportunities for children to develop their language skills. Music and language go hand in hand. As children start to understand the structure of language, many aspects of learning to play music become second-nature as well.
- Development of the Vestibular System – The types of movements that are encouraged through music such as rocking, swaying and bouncing are important because they stimulate the brain to help develop the vestibular system. This is important because this helps give children a sense of balance and an awareness of the space around their bodies as they learn to move in different ways.
- Socialization – Music is powerful because it can connect people. Have you ever witnessed 2 young children who do not know each other start dancing together when music comes on? Music draws people together and gives children a safe and comfortable place to interact with others.
- Calmness – Sometimes music is exactly what a child needs in order to calm down. Young children lead active lives, but quiet music has a special way of signaling to a child that it’s time to slow down or to rest.
- Following Directions – Interacting with music presents many opportunities to follow directions. For example, give kids cues of ways to move with the music, tell them to stop when the music stops or have them mirror your own movements. Following directions in this way is not only important to help them thrive socially and in their homes, it is also a skill that they can transfer over to many situations that will ensure their safety.
- Transitioning To New Activities – Many songs only last for a couple of minutes, so singing, dancing or playing to music may be a brief activity that will soon transition to a different song or different activity. This is a valuable skill for kids to practice to help them understand how to transition from one activity to the next. Also, many children thrive when using a song or musical phrase as a means of transitioning. For example, singing a song to signal that it’s time to clean up, get dressed or get in the car can help children move through these activities more easily.
- Awareness Of Sounds – Music provides exposure to many different types of sounds a child might hear in everyday life. Children can develop good listening skills and learn to distinguish different sounds.
- Cognitive and Memory Skills – Music exposes children to concepts such as logical progressions, patterns, numbers, and categorizing.
- Coordination – As gross and fine motor skills develop, children will also begin learning more complex movements and practicing simultaneous movements.
- Self Expression – Music gives children plenty of opportunities to express and discover who they are. It encourages children to develop and communicate their preferences.