A key part of childhood development is engaging the senses. Tasting healthy food, seeing people’s faces, touching different textures, and smelling the indoors and outdoors help little minds understand their world. What they hear also shapes their development, and music influences young people in unique ways.
- Playing an instrument can develop fine motor skills.
Whether it is the recorder, the xylophone, a ukulele, or the keyboard, many instruments exist for small hands and fingers, starting with toys for young babies, to toddlers, and up to real instruments. To play, children have to start moving their hands, fingers, wrists, and sometimes even their elbows in new ways. They are often in ways that work muscles that even many adults who do not play an instrument do not engage them.
Hearing music encourages small children to dance, helping them move their bodies, embrace exercise, and begin to coordinate their upper and lower halves. Dancing to rhythm can also help increase overall muscle development.
- Music can help you bond with your child.
Opportunities for parents and guardians to bond with their children should be taken whenever possible. Moving, dancing, singing, or teaching them an instrument is a way to spend time together, that is fun for both the adult and the child. Sometimes watching age-appropriate television together can be boring or frustrating for adults, and small children cannot always keep up with their parents’ athletic pursuits. Music is a chance to engage the body and the mind for both. It can also help adults learn more about who their little one will grow up to be. Do they like jazz? Classical? Pop music all the way?
Growing together as a family is a special experience, and music can be a key part of forming a family dynamic and culture.
- There is a correlation between emotional management and music.
Music is deeply related to human emotion. People write music to express feelings, others play to connect with their thoughts, while others still sit back and revel in it to better process what they are going through. Some instruments are good at getting people happy and excited. Other sounds are soothing and calming. Many parents play music to small babies to help them sleep. Engaging with other kinds of music can help toddlers express themselves. Maybe create an ‘emotions’ playlist and when they are having a hard time communicating, have them show you which song they are feeling. Help them identify their feelings, and then use that opportunity to teach them how to express those feelings in a healthy, appropriate way.
Songs that express feelings can be as simple or complicated as each child wants, helping them truly express themselves. For those kids who learn to play an instrument, it will be a physical expression of their feelings, and a way to vent frustration that does not involve hitting.
What songs does your family enjoy? Have you ever used music to help children express themselves?
By: Bethany Verrett