The benefits of music are huge during the early years. It stimulates some of the following developmental areas:
1. Brain Development
Music builds overall brain development and creates pathways in the brain that improve a child’s cognitive functioning.
Language, reading and mathematical abilities, in particular, are developed through music activities. These are further explained below.
2. Language and Vocabulary
Songs & Rhythm greatly expand a child’s vocabulary as well as their ability to use language correctly.
The repetition in popular rhymes and songs helps children to memorize new words. They also become familiar with language patterns and how words are placed together.
A well-developed vocabulary enables children to communicate effectively and learn to read with greater fluency and comprehension (to read for meaning).
3. Auditory Perception
Auditory Perception is the brain’s ability to make sense of what it hears through the ears. This is one of the most important skills for reading.
Children must be able to hear various sounds, distinguish them from each other and manipulate them (e.g. blend an s and a t into one sound st to read the word stop). They must also be able to join sounds and break them apart in order to be able to read and spell words.
Teaching children classic songs and rhymes is is one of the best ways to develop their auditory perceptual skills. It is fun and children learn auditory skills with little effort.
Nonsense rhymes are great for tuning a child’s ear to sound patterns, especially rhyming patterns.
4. Sound Patterns
As stated above, sound patterns are learned through rhymes, poems and songs. These patterns emerge through:
syllables in words
stress patterns in a song
Patterns actually form the basis of literacy and numeracy. Learning about patterning through musical activities will greatly help a child cope academically when learning to read, write, spell and do mathematics.
5. Motor Skills
Motor skills are extremely important for learning to read and write. They are developed in various ways during musical activities.
Fine-motor skills (the small muscles) can be developed through:
Playing with instruments
Making instruments (e.g. a rice shaker)
Gross-motor skills (the large muscles) can be developed through:
Playing with large instruments
Music games (e.g. musical statues)
Coordination, an important skill for children, can be learned through many musical activities. Music also improves a child’s sensory development, especially when paired with a movement activity such as dancing.
Music is a wonderful mode of self-expression for children.
Through music activities, children develop a sense of creativity and feel free to express themselves without judgment. Creative expression is an important part of a child’s development.
7. Memory Skills
The repetitive nature of songs and rhymes allows children to work on their memory skills continuously. The structure of a song also makes children want to learn it fully, or the song will feel incomplete to them.
The tune and rhythm of a song or rhyme makes it easier to memorize. This is good for developing auditory skills as well as general memory skills, which a child will rely on throughout school and beyond.
8. General Well-Being
Music is simply a fun activity that makes you feel good.
Children are naturally drawn to music. They are not self-conscious when singing and are not held back by fear and judgment as adults may be. They relax, sing and move freely.
In today’s stressful society, an activity that relaxes a child and promotes general well-being should be encouraged frequently.
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