Your baby wants to move it, move it!
The following is a guest post by Krystal Hawes, Education Director at See Spot Sings. See Spot Sings is subscription service offering monthly deliveries of original and supplemental tools that reinforce early childhood developmental areas. See Spot Sings is a featured partner in the November Ecocentric Mom & Baby Box. Subscribers will receive exclusive discounts as well as 2 custom songs made just for our eco-moms.
Most adults can express the "warm fuzzies" they feel when a favorite song of theirs comes on the radio. Apart from the emotional attachment you have to a song, music is a major player in the brain -- this is no different for your child.
So... why music? Music and baby development in almost every area go hand in hand. Here's how:
Social & Emotional Baby Development through Music
The most important learning your child does in his early years is through play. While it's important to learn to play alone, playing together provides a great deal of opportunities to learn important social skills and concepts. Music and baby development of social and emotional skills happen through both active music making and music listening.
In active music making, children learn to work together, take turns, share instruments, and contribute to something. This introduction to creativity is a catalyst for enormous growth in your child as an individual.
Music is also an expressive art that can create moods where none existed. Passive music listening can be a great way to experience, express, and dissect different feelings with your child. As they get older, music can encourage conversations around more complex emotions. I've found that talking through the feelings in a song removes pressure and judgment, therefore allowing more honest conversations and opportunities for growth in both children and adults alike.
Gross/Fine Motor Baby Development through Music
"I like to move, it move it!"
And don't we all! This is no coincidence. Music is "mapped" -- or processed -- in some of the deepest, most primitive parts of the brain. If you look around the audience at a concert, most people are moving some part of their body with the beat. The physical response to music isn't involuntary ...but it's hard to fight.
For your Little Listeners, this experience is no different. Moving to music is one of the easiest ways for your baby to start using his body and manipulating it in space. Is your toddler just starting to pop up into the crawling position? Put on some music with a strong beat and watch them rock back and forth to it. Is your toddler not quite jumping? Put on some music and watch them bounce in place. Before you know it, they'll be jumping!
Active music making is a great way to work on the development of fine motor skills. Using a drum with a mallet or two drum sticks can help develop grip. Mallet use reinforces a Palmar Grasp, and although the end game is a Pincher Grasp, both are steps on the way to writing! Of course, movement and music are great for coordination of the arms and legs, which is an essential skill for jumping, hopping, marching, and more.
Developing Baby's Communication Skills Through Music
Music is sound -- verbal communication is built upon the harnessing and manipulation of those sounds.
Music with lyrics is a great way to expose your child to new sounds and syllables for language development. The repetition of lyrics in a lot of music, much to our horror, is meant to reinforce words and the sounds they're composed of. Over time with repeated listening, your child will become familiar with the sound, mimic it, and eventually produce it.
In this way, passive music listening is as important as reading to your child.
Improving Cognition through Music
Music is a full-body mnemonic device. It triggers built-in responses from all areas of the brain and body. In this way, music is a great tool for teaching new concepts because you can rely on built in responses and build upon them.
Want to work on sharing? Listen to a song about sharing that explains the concept. While you listen, play along with instruments as you physically practice sharing with your child. Sing along with the song, repeating the word "share" as you do it. In that one moment, you are working on every developmental area while learning a new concept in an integrated way.
The Wrap Up
Most importantly, music is FUN! You know your child is learning, and they're having fun doing it.
Want to get moving? Check out See Spot Sing, a children's music service providing developmentally minded music for your children and the soundtrack to your Little Listener's biggest moments!