Like their parents, babies and young children love music. Children respond to music. They move. They sing. They play to music. It’s the rhythmic and repetitive movement of music that stimulates and promotes neural connections in the brain. Neural connections are what creates learning. Music can become much more than a way to have fun for you and your child. Music can help to “wire-up” a young child’s brain to help them learn more effectively.
When a child dances or sings, more brain cells get connected in more areas of the brain. From KidsHealth Organization, “Research shows that kids who are actively involved in music (who play it or sing it regularly):
- do better in reading and math when they start school
- are better able to focus and control their bodies
- play better with others, and have a higher self-esteem”
Children of all ages, even infants, express themselves through music. Music will get them swaying and bouncing or moving their hands in response to music. Infants can recognize the melody of a song long before they understand the words. Young children try to mimic sounds and start moving to the music, as soon as they are physically able. There are several YouTube videos that feature infants who move, bounce and sway to music that their mother or father is playing (link below). In addition, quiet, background music or soft lullaby songs can also have a soothing effect on infants, especially at sleep time.
Early in life, a child recognizes when someone is calling or singing their name. Knowing their name is probably one of the first ways that a child begins to understand their own separate identity. When my daughters were born, I wrote a song for each of them to instill the message that they were loved and valued. I wrote these songs for the specific purpose that we would sing or play them regularly. When my daughter, Lyla, was born, I wrote the song, “Lyla.” Lyla would move, dance, and clap to the music. When my grandson, Antonio, was born, I wrote the song, “Antonio Romantico.” I wanted Antonio to know that he was loved and a very special person in our lives and in this world.
The songs in Grandpa Steve’s Kids music collection are all about positive messaging for children. Messages affect how a child perceives themselves and ultimately how their self-esteem is developed. The key with positive messaging is to convey to the child, on a regular basis that they are lovable, they are valued, and they can be successful. This will help a child feel more competent in whatever they choose to learn.
- Kids Health, Introducing Preschoolers to Music, http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/preschool-music.html
- Bright Horizons Family Solutions, http://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2010-music-and-children-rhythm-meets- -development
- Babies moving to music on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to7uIG8KYhg