Want to help your toddler develop strong math skills, better language and reading skills, and, eventually, better SAT scores, all while just having some fun?
Believe it or not, it is possible to do all this, and perhaps even improve physical fitness as well, with an afternoon of music.
Of course, we hear music in almost everything we do. Background sound in the movies and on tv, walking past a restaurant, or sometimes just floating in the air. It’s a natural reaction for parents to play music to calm their infants to sleep or to introduce an element of play into the evening with their preschooler and children tend to respond.
Here’s why it’s a good idea.
According to a 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute, music helps brain development in children especially in language acquisition and reading skills.
In addition, The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation found learning to play an instrument improves mathematical learning and increases SAT scores.
In fact, there’s a whole list of ways music can help your child develop:
- Intellectual awareness
- Social interaction
- Emotional development
- Large motor skills
- Fine motor skills
- Language skills
- Overall literacy
- Mind/Body balance
- Vocabulary development
- Memory development
Not to mention the joy of just playing together and the wonderful memories that invokes. Or the family sing-alongs that can take place many years after the initial car ride that inspired them.
Here’s how to do it
Playing music for infants not only helps to soothe them, but helps them learn to use their bodies as they naturally begin to start moving in time to the sounds they hear. It also encourages them to mimic the sounds they hear. As you move through the day with them, making up silly songs to accompany the activities you’re doing, they can begin to build vocabulary and become encouraged to start experimenting with sounds on their own.
Anyone who has a toddler knows how impossible it can be to get them to sit still. Instead, try allowing them to move to the music they hear nearby, even if it’s just swaying slightly in the chair. Again, experimenting with sounds and putting words together in new ways is a good way to help them use more words, memorize lyrics, and recognize when something is wrong, such as when you sing Row, Row, Row your Plane. Encourage them to play with sound, clapping their hands, stomping their feet, or tapping on objects to help them keep time.
For preschoolers, it is a joy simply to be singing. They tend to like words that rhyme or repeat. Give them songs with a steady beat they can follow easily. Dancing around the living room, joining you for a little parent/child yoga session, or banging a drum while marching down the street are all fun activities for little ones.
Don’t forget, those soothing sounds that helped your small one when he or she was an infant will still have that soothing effect well into the future. Playing louder music when it’s playtime and softer, quieter music when it gets closer to bedtime can help ease the transition through the evening hours.