“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen
Universally, children are naturally drawn to music. Singing, dancing, and playing instruments are all ways that children connect with music and make it part of their life. As well as being beautiful to listen to, the benefits of music for your children attributes to their development and well-being. Social-emotional skills, intellectual ability, language/literacy, and motor development can all be supported through music.
Music evokes emotion. The tempo, instruments played, and lyrics can transform a song into something happy, sad, scary or exciting. Children, who are at the prime of learning to recognize and regulate their emotions often relate to music.
Music helps children to make connections with people, places and events. Pretty much everyone has a song or piece of music that reminds them of something or someone.
Every culture has music of one kind or another. Music that includes specific instruments, languages, or accents can foster a sense of belonging for a child, as well as encourage inclusiveness and diversity.
Intellectual Benefits of Music
Music can strengthen memory in children as well. Remembering song lyrics is a great exercise in memorization! According to the many studies, learning to play an instrument can also improve a child’s understanding of mathematics. Some studies even draw a correlation between music and how children score on standardized tests.
Fine & Gross Motor Development
Children of all ages can increase motor development through music. For babies, clapping, swaying, and bouncing help them develop muscles in their arms, legs, and core. Toddlers and preschoolers begin to dance, jump, and move in time to the music which helps to strengthen muscles as well as increase coordination and balance. Very young children might also associate songs with finger or arm movements, such as the Itsy Bitsy Spider or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Playing instruments also develops motor skills. Piano playing exercises fine motor development in the fingers. Playing the guitar or drums helps children to cross the midline which is an important skill that allows children to complete tasks on the opposite side of their body (putting on an opposite shoe, learning to write, and develop a dominant hand). Blowing into a whistle, clarinet, or other woodwind instrument helps children to learn to control their breathing. In turn, this can help them with controlling big emotions through breathing exercises.
Literacy & Language Development
Learning the lyrics to a song is a wonderful way to build vocabulary. From a very young age, children remember and respond to song lyrics. This ability to remember words and make connections to their meanings is extremely valuable as young children begin to speak and makes sense of the words they hear.
As older children begin to read music, their brains are learning an entirely new language. At the same time, they are figuring out how to translate that language into how they sing or play instruments. Reading music has also been shown to help children to have better reading comprehension skills at an earlier age.
Creativity Benefits of Music
Everything from making up songs, to moving our bodies in time with the music allows for a child’s creativity to blossom. Allowing children the freedom of exploring instruments and the different sounds they make or how they work allows them to use their creativity.
So get started today and offer music as often as possible. However, keep in mind that the benefits of music for young children can be lost if you always have music on in the background and children end up tuning out. Turn music on and have an impromptu dance party, sing together with hand motions, or make a pretend band with instruments in the playroom. You could even teach the children about musicals, then make a puppet theater and present a musical to the family!
About The Author
Sarah Proctor has worked with young children for over 25 years as a teacher, childcare director, nanny, and mom of two girls. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration from UMass Amherst. In addition, Sarah has her Director 2 certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.