toddler music
Image Courtesy of Flickr

Whether it’s through intentional effort or not, music plays an important role in children’s lives, both formally and informally. Music is one of the few things that can stimulate the entire brain, impacting one’s cognition, motor skills, language, emotional health and social development.

Thanks to increased and widespread knowledge, most parents today appreciate these benefits. However, what most of them don’t realize is that music can have an even greater positive impact on their children if used properly.

One of the benefits of music that parents and children can enjoy is that it provides a way for them to bond.

Karen Stead, teacher with the Let’s Play Music program, said it is also an excellent way for parents to bond with their children, adding it is “highly important to me.”

However, it takes more than simply having music on in the background. Parents must be engaged and engage their children in the process.

“I started with my infants,” Stead said. “I would sing to them. I would imitate the sounds back to them that they made to me. They’re doing a lot of listening at a young age.” Via The Spectrum

A major challenge for most parents is the costly implications that come with making music a part of their children’s lives. There’s a lot of pressure to enroll even 3-year olds for private music lessons and purchasing musical instruments that come at a high cost.

However, the truth of the matter is that introducing music into your child’s life does not have to be expensive at all. Even the most informal approaches to music will have similar and sometimes even greater impact on your child.

A new study suggests that regular informal music-making with very young children may even have benefits above and beyond those of reading.

But there’s an important, interesting, and somewhat beautiful catch – for best results, make it shared music-making in your home.

In an analysis of data generated from a study involving more than 3,000 children, a University of Queensland team investigated the associations between informal home music education for very young children and later cognitive and social-emotional outcomes.

The team found that informal music-making in the home from around the ages of two and three can lead to better literacy, numeracy, social skills, and attention and emotion regulation by the age of five. Via The Conversation

musical instruments baby
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Tara Dunn, director of the Kindermusik program for The Learning Center for Families, suggests that parents can make the experience more engaging by making simple instruments.

In fact, she encourages parents to make simple instruments themselves, rather than buying cheap toys at the store.

The key, she said, is to keep it simple.

“We don’t want Pinterest projects,” Dunn said.

Things like filling plastic bottles with rice or beans and then gluing the lid on, sanding dowels down to make rhythm sticks and turning plastic containers with plastic lids into drums. Via The Spectrum

With informal approaches, your creativity is the only limit to how much music you can bring into your child’s life. It may something as simple as introducing them to the songs you loved when you were a child or giving them a CD of their favorite songs as a gift.

Ready to bring more music home? Here are a few fun ways to add music to your everyday activities:

• Sing your bedtime stories: Belt out classic picture books, such as Five Little Ducks or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

• Make your own musical: When I’m talking to my kids, I often speak in song to make it more fun.

• Play a round of car karaoke: Find a song that everyone can sing along to (and they won’t notice the length of the car ride).

• Add a song to children’s routines: Create fun, silly songs to sing while brushing their teeth, cleaning up their toys and getting dressed for school.

• Try soothing spa music before bed: This will help children relax as they wind down.

• Tour a music store: Head down to your local shop and view the varied instruments.

• Mix it up in the kitchen: Grab a pot and wooden spoon to help them practice drumming a beat.

• Plan a musical outing: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra often hosts symphonies for kids, or visit an opera or family musical. Via The Globe and Mail

The list is endless!

Image Courtesy of Pixabay
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Bear in mind that parental involvement is a critical element in the process of making music part of a child’s life. Even in formalized music education setting, parents that are more involved in their children’s practice sessions, for instance, realize greater returns on their investment.

Additionally, parental involvement makes for a much more pleasant experience for the kids. Rather than see their music practice sessions as a task, kids whose parents are involved in their music see it as something to enjoy and even look forward to.

Featured Image: Image Credit


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