Music is a wonderful thing. It allows us to express feelings and emotions and it can bring different cultures and entire communities together. But music isn’t just a fun recreational activity, it actually has many health and academic benefits. So let’s look at some of the ways music can aid your child’s early development.
Music can help accelerate brain development, especially reading skills and language acquisition. Exposure to music from an early age helps children to speak more clearly and develop a larger vocabulary. By listening to music and singing along, they learn to process and decode tones and sounds which helps them with linguistic skills in early childhood and later in life. Even just playing music to babies helps them understand rhythm in both music and speech.
Music also helps improve memory and information retention as listening to rhythms activates the brain’s ability to focus and retain memories. By singing nursery rhymes, your child will learn to identify sound patterns. By singing these regularly, they will learn to understand these patterns and be able to put these patterns in a sequence. Developing and subsequently mastering these skills helps them with their literacy skills which will be useful throughout their education.
Improves maths skills
Learning to play an instrument can also help children improve their maths. In what is widely known as the Mozart Effect, scientists discovered that music lights up the same part of the brain that we use for spatial skills which are paramount for understanding maths. So even if your child is too young to learn an instrument, simply listening to music can aid their development in this regard.
As they get older, learning to read music and play an instrument will also help them where maths is concerned. When we read and play music, we develop pattern recognition abilities which are also a vital component of maths.
Music inevitably encourages movement. And whether that’s a small bounce in your one year old who just started walking or a let-loose arm-flailing jig of a toddler, the movements your child makes when listening to music helps them to develop their fine and gross motor skills.
Clapping, tapping a foot or mimicking your movements helps your child to develop rhythm and coordination whereas banging a drum or shaking a rattle in time to the music helps develop hand-eye coordination and clutch grip. Meanwhile, jumping up and down to music helps develop muscles and improve strength and balance.
Your child’s emotional development is just as important as their physical and academic development. Music helps children to gain a sense of self-confidence and enables them to express their feelings and emotions (which will help them in later life). As they get older, should they wish to learn an instrument or perform in front of an audience, they will gain further confidence and develop skills that will come in handy later in life when they are required to perform presentations in school and at work.
As well as aiding expression, music can also help set a mood. So whether that’s a lullaby to soothe and relax your child before bedtime or a fun playtime playlist to get them active, music can help your child to understand the tone of what’s happening around them and learn to adjust their actions and behaviour accordingly.
Playing music with other children will help your child to develop a number of social skills that will help them throughout their childhood, education and later life. Listening to music and playing along with rattles, drums and other instruments encourages teamwork and teaches children to share.
As they get older and start to learn a particular instrument, music teaches discipline and helps children to develop a strong work ethic. Seeing their skills improve and mastering a particular note or piece helps children to understand the consequences and satisfaction of hard work.
Music also helps us understand and celebrate different cultures. Exposure to a range of different music types will help your child to appreciate other cultures and prepare them for the wider world.
Music not only helps children’s cognitive development but it also develops specific skills that will aid them with reading, language acquisition and maths. This all helps prepare them for the academic learning they will experience in school.
Of course, school readiness is about more than just being at the top of the maths class. It’s about being able to work and socialise with other children and express your emotions in an appropriate and healthy manner. Music helps children to understand all of these things. So whether that’s as part of your family quality time or at their child care centre, regularly engaging in the musical activity, therefore, helps prepare your child fully for the next chapter of their development and education.
Exposing your child to music from an early age is a fantastic way to develop their skills, but it’s also a fantastic way to enjoy some quality time with them and expose them to different cultures. Finding a daycare that regularly plays music and encourages children to play and sing along is essential but don’t be afraid to also play simple musical games with your child and have some fun with it too!