Music education is so important and beneficial even to the youngest of children. You, as the parent, are more than capable of including music into the daily life of your child.
Here’s what you need to know about how to make music to benefit your baby’s ears (and brain)—
Music and literacy:
- Singing a lullaby stimulates early language development.
- Music helps children practice spoken language and they begin to hear phrases they may have heard spoken before and start developing connections.
- A lot of nursery rhymes include rhyming words a child may have heard in a story or poem.
- The more a child is read to, the more they develop a love for reading. The same goes for singing and music.
- Music helps develop listening skills which is a crucial part of learning to read.
Music and the brain:
- Music can help build listening and auditory processing skills.
- Children who learn a musical instrument at a young age form connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
- Music helps develop the gray matter of the brain, which is responsible for processing and retrieving information.
- When a song is sung with the parent several times, the child will memorize it and be able to sing it on their own. Music helps develop memory skills.
Music can be used to help enhance and learning and help your child to recall information.
- Babies love to be sung to. While rocking your baby, sing a simple lullaby or any song really. It is so neat when you hear the baby cooing back to your song.
- Toddlers and preschoolers love to sing simple songs. Ideas include "Old McDonald had a Farm", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", "If You're Happy and You Know It", "This Old Man", and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider". As a parent, teach the child the motions to the song and sing right along with them. I promise you that your child doesn't care what you sound like or what you look like. They will LOVE the interaction and being able to experience music with you.
- Sing a story. What I mean by this is, instead of reading a book, sing a book. Make up a simple melody and sing the words. My kids love doing this with me and they think they are writing their own song.
- Sing about life. While doing laundry, eating, playing, going on a walk, washing dishes, or anything else going on in your daily life, make up a song! It makes life so much more fun. One day we were eating lunch, and my kids and I made up a silly song all about sandwiches and chips and I heard them singing it the rest of the day.
- Play your child's favorite song on the radio and sing right along with it. Some kids may be shy or afraid to sing because they don't think they sound very good. Here's the deal. Your child's singing voice can be developed, it just takes time. Don't push it. I saw students go from not being able to carry a tune in a bucket, to being in the honor choir. If a child has never experienced hearing themselves sing, it is unfamiliar and with time, they will be belting out a tune at the top of their lung.
- Have a dance party. My kids and I love to play music and dance all over the house. It is so fun to see them let their hair down and the creative dance moves they come up with. They LOVE to see me dance with them too.
- Another fun activity to do is to play freeze dance. This is when your child dances, you pause the music and they have to freeze until the music plays again. Kids love this game and it is a perfect rainy day activity.
- Give your child a scarf and tell them to experiment with moving it high, low, fast, and slow and they can twirl it around, wiggle it, or wave it.
- Kids can pat their legs, snap their fingers, clap their hands, or stomp their feet to the music. While listening to a song, call out a different body percussion for the child to use. They could also walk around the room while doing these different body percussion.
- Give a baby some wrapping paper. They will love hearing the different sounds crinkling the paper makes.
- Household items to play as instruments are: plastic bowl and spoon, metal spoons that can be hit together, the floor with a spoon, a bucket used as a drum, rice put in a plastic bowl with a lid can be used as a shaker, and rubberbands on a kleenex box can be used as a guitar.
- When your child starts learning to read (usually 5 or 6), is the perfect age to start a music lesson. I usually recommend starting with piano lessons before moving onto guitar, drums, or whatever instrument they choose. The reason why I suggest waiting until 5 or 6 is that the child will be reading music notation and will need to be able to think about several things at the same time: playing the keys, counting rhythms, reading notation, curving hands, proper sitting, etc.
I hope these suggestions help you get started with implementing music in the home. Remember that music does not need to be complicated, it just needs to be experienced. Have fun with it and come up with your own ideas on bringing music into your home.