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The Benefits of Using Music with Young Children

Gari Stein

 

Excerpted, with permission from Gari Stein's
     The More We Get Together:
Nurturing Relationships Through Music, Play, Books and Art

     Everything about good music is positive, with the power to affect our lives forever. In our hurry-up dot-com world, musical experiences provide a sense of community and belonging. A simple song, readily available, can help slow things down.

     Children are born musicians, dancers, artists and storytellers, and the opportunities for healthy development are endless. We just have to provide the canvas, the paper, the paints, the materials and the welcoming environment, setting the stage for creativity, learning and fun. Can’t we try to deemphasize the ABCs and reemphasize what comes naturally to young children? Not only will the children’s environment brighten, but adults will find the stress decreases and productivity and efficiency increase. It really is so simple.

Studies suggest that music and movement
    • Nourish the brain while affecting all areas of development
    • Strengthen listening, motor skills, language, problem solving, spatial-temporal
       performance and literacy
    • Help develop critical listening skills
    • Create space for emotional well-being
    • Provide opportunities to practice social skills
    • Support phonemic awareness
    • Instill acts of kindness and cooperation
    • Calm and focus the mind
    • Encourage interaction in non-threatening ways

     Play has always been the work of young children. But now play is in danger of becoming extinct. Play time is being replaced with structured activities, TV and computers. The push to standardize children has pushed recess off the playground. Children are literally being robbed of their childhood.
     Verbal play is what helps children develop their language, through sounds, rhymes and melodies. “When children learn to listen carefully and attend while singing and playing instruments, this will help in their speech development.”

Literally Speaking: How Music Supports the Development of Reading Skills
    • Children with a strong sense of beat are more likely to read well.
    • Music stimulates all the senses, helping children learn to recognize patterns and sequence.
    • Early music exposure helps children learn by promoting language, creativity, coordination, social        interaction, self-esteem and memory.
    • Singing games support children’s need to socialize and play, instead of “pre-academic” skills.
    • Music helps “wire” the brain, supporting a higher level of thinking.

     So sing, sing, sing to your baby. Recite nursery rhymes and poetry while rocking, so body and ear can work together. And don’t forget that the changing table is a great place for rhymes and massage. Your baby’s memory and oral and written language will all benefit from the attention.

     We may confuse art with "art projects,” where the adults pre-cut designs and instruct children where or how to paint or paste. By precutting, we’re doing children’s work for them. In the classroom, avoid “parent pleasers”: project’s where the children’s work is lined up, all looking very similar in content. Have paints, crayons, paste, scissors, feathers, pipe cleaners, fabric, wallpaper, wood, leaves, sticks, clay sponges, brushes etc. around for children to do a little or a lot. Let children mix paints.


Excerpted, with permission from Gari Stein's
     The More We Get Together:
Nurturing Relationships Through Music, Play, Books and Art

Many thanks to Gari Stein for permission to display this book excerpt.
© Gari Stein. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 

Learn more about Gari Stein's The More We Get Together book.