Mini Melodies: How Music Benefits Your Child

Posted by iChild, March 29, 2017 4:29 PM

By Pears and Chocolate Sauce

What's your favourite music? Maybe you're a fan of classical, pop or rock. You might join my husband in his love of folk. Or perhaps you just can't resist some classic tunes from the 90's (come on, we've all been there!) Whatever your taste, few people would say, "I don't like music". Music stirs something in us; it entertains, it celebrates with us, and it comforts us when we are having a bad day. If you have young children, you probably sing with them, and as they grow older you might share your favourite pieces of music with them or encourage them to take up an instrument. But did you know just how beneficial music can be for your children?

What are they learning?

Communication and Language

It's common in all cultures for parents, perhaps mothers in particular, to sing to their children. Just like storytelling, singing songs develops children's understanding of language. It introduces new vocabulary to them in a memorable and meaningful way. Songs give children an awareness of rhyme and rhythm, and it can be great fun to extend a nursery rhyme by making up your own versions! Often children's songs and nursery rhymes will require some sort of response which encourages children to develop careful listening skills. iChild have lots of printable nursery rhyme lyrics and colouring sheets.

Physical skills

What the first thing you want to do when you favourite song comes on? Dance! And children LOVE to dance - the sillier the better! Not only is dancing great exercise for children, it helps them to learn to move freely and negotiate the space around them.

Maths

It is said that music and maths go hand in hand, and certainly there have been links made between tuition in music and achievement in maths. But how can music help your child's maths skills?

There are so many children songs which help them to develop early counting skills: One, Two, Three, Four, Five; Five Currant Buns or Five Little Ducks to name just a few. Songs such as these help children to learn to say number names in order, and also to learn the more abstract skill of counting actions.

Listening to and engaging with music also offers an opportunity for children to recognise repeating patterns, and involving them in simple rhythmic activities can help with this.

Science

Exploring sounds helps children to gain an understanding of why things happen and how they work. They can experiment with changing sound - for example by trying to play an instrument loudly or softly, or by observing how the pitch of a 'pinged' elastic band changes as it is stretched. If you can, show them different instruments and note the different ways that the pitch is changed (e.g. the thickness of the string; the slide of a trombone, or covering finger holes on a recorder).

Social and Emotional

Music helps children grow in confidence by giving them shared experiences and encouraging them to interact with each other. We know as adults that certain types of music will impact our mood, and so music can help children to engage with and express their feelings.

Creativity

Although it might seem that this would naturally go first, I've left this until last because really, all of the above fits within this category. Engaging in musical activities offers vast opportunities for children to express themselves and develop their imagination.

What now?

Now it's all very well telling you how great music is for your kids, but other than listening to music and singing songs, what can you do with your kids? Here are a few ideas...

Have a dance party!
Sing and dance along to action songs with your children! As well as teaching them nursery rhymes with actions, listen to songs where they have to listen out for the actions themselves. We love the albums Jingle Jam Dance or Tumble Tots Action Songs: Wiggle and Shake (both available on iTunes).

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Make some instruments

Use things you have at home to make your own instruments! You can't beat an old saucepan and a wooden spoon now, can you? Or you could make a sound wall in your garden using recycled materials - bars from an unwanted xylophone, an oven rack and lengths of pipe make a great variety of sounds! For a smaller project, check out how to make your own music maker, as well as some ideas for how to use them in an educational way.


Listen to some different styles of music

Ask your child how the music makes them feel. Use some images of facial expressions (such as these), to help them identify their feelings. Talk about what the music makes them think of. Can they come up with a little story to go along with the music?


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Investigate sounds

Gather a selection of instruments (this can include things you've found from around your home). What kind of sound do they make (e.g. is it a shaky sound, or tinkly; a loud banging sound or a rattling sound)? Can you use them to create sound effects? Maybe you can use the sound effects to tell a story they know well such as The Gruffalo? For example, they could find a different sound for each character. Don't worry about being too precise - think something quiet for the mouse, loud for the Gruffalo, and perhaps a shaking or swishing sound for the snake to remind us of hissing.

Have a go at some body percussion

Ask your child to make as many sounds as they can just using their body. You'll be amazed at the range of sounds they can come up with! Once you've thought of a few sounds, try putting them together to make a short rhythm, and then practise repeating it.

Making music together is a really lovely way to bond with your child. It's such a simple way of spending some quality time together and it's great to do something which you can both be actively involved in!

By Pears and Chocolate Sauce

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