Supporting the very young
For young children in particular, music can be extremely valuable in enhancing personal, social and educational development. It's important, therefore, for parents to encourage their children's budding interest in music.
Although research is going on all the time into the effects of music on children, including those still in the womb, active music making is thought to be linked with benefits such as better language and mathematical ability, improved results at school, better-adjusted social behaviour, and even improvements in spatial reasoning, which is the foundation of science and engineering science.
Although spatial reasoning may sound like a daunting concept if you are not familiar with the term, it's something that we all need to learn as children. In their early years children learn to understand spatial concepts such as left and right, or to recognise obstacles in their path and to know to avoid them.
It's important for children to practice these skills and this can be done through everyday activities including action songs that link movement and space to ideas. If a child is able to develop strong basic spatial understandings early on, they will develop the more complex spatial reasoning skills that enable them to do more complex things such as reading and understanding maps and graphs.
Playing music to unborn babies can stimulate them in ways that can lead to creative and intellectual development, and to increased post-natal musical and speech development. And, in even in more practical terms for pregnant mothers, playing music to your baby can steady the foetal heart rate and reduce kicking in the womb!
There is evidence, too, of music aiding memory development and retrieval in preschool aged children. And, because kids love repetition, singing familiar songs and encouraging them to make music, even with simple percussion instruments, can also be greatly beneficial. Action songs, which require children to move their hands or bodies to the music or make particular sounds, are particularly good.
Music has similarly positive effects on young school children. As in preschool aged children, spatial-temporal reasoning is improved when school aged children learn to make music. And this growing interest and interaction with music can lead to strengthened maths, dance, reading, creative thinking and visual arts skills in children.
Parents and teachers of school aged students find that studying music can turn children into better students over all. This is because the skills learnt through the study of music can transfer into general study, communication and cognitive skills that are useful in other areas of study. Similarly, working in musical groups and ensembles can teach children to work more effectively together within their general school environment.
Introducing your child to music at an early age does more than foster a life long love of music as an art form. Encouraging them to not just listen to music, but to interact and become involved with the act of making music is a valuable step in your child's development.
By involving them in music you are helping to expand their positive problem-solving skills and develop their memory skills. And on a personal and social level, the benefits for the child are huge. By giving them a way of expressing themselves, you will be encouraging their creativity and improving their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Remember that you don't need any special musical ability to start enjoying music with your child. In fact, learning together can become a great new way of interacting and bonding with your child.