How does your toddler respond to music?
I was recently one of millions who watched a toddler singing Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” as it played out on YouTube, and then over and over on several TV shows. It reminded me of watching my own daughter dance and bounce to the beat of music, even before she was talking. This natural response to music is something we as parents cannot only enjoy watching, but should be purposely cultivating throughout our children’s lives. More and more research is revealing how crucial music is to multiple aspects of a child’s development:
Music has been found to contribute to general well-being including better sleep, enhanced exercise performance and improved coordination. More specifically, rhythm and movement stimulate the frontal lobes which are developing between the ages of 2 and 6, thus aiding in motor development (Brewer & Campbell).
Who hasn’t felt the connection with groups of even strangers at a concert, a dance or a worship service? Music can provide a bond when words or other experiences are lacking. It can enhance one-on-one bonds between parent and child, teacher and student, and peers at any age.
Two of the benefits that The American Music Therapy Association lists for employing music are expressing feelings and managing stress. A study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that upbeat music could improve moods and boost happiness in as little as a couple weeks.
Music can aid in speech development, syntax and preparation for reading. The National Association of Music Manufacturers Foundation has also found the following benefits to school-aged children in their educational setting:
- Improves recall and retention of verbal information
- Advances math achievement
- Boosts reading and language skills
With the possibility of music benefiting so many important aspects of child development, what are ways you as a parent can incorporate music into your children’s lives, even from the earliest age?
Sing to your child. You don’t need to have a great “singing voice”, just sing rhythmic songs so they get the benefit of feeling a beat, or sing soothing songs when they are agitated. Incorporate movement and repetition with songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “The Wheels on the Bus”. Here is a link to parents.com with several musical suggestions and videos to which you can follow along: http://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/music/
Incorporate music in your daily routines. From riding in the car to cooking in the kitchen or splashing in the tub, daily activities can be enhanced by music—listening, singing or even dancing! Another source for a variety of musical activities is Pinterest. Just check for ideas under “Music for Toddlers”.
Find social musical settings. Many libraries, churches and community education programs offer children’s musical classes and events. Outdoor concerts and street fairs can be also be fun, child-friendly musical experiences.
Enroll in music lessons at an early age. When your child can focus for 30 minutes they may be ready to try lessons. For most children this is by age five. You may want to check with the music teacher at your school for recommendations for your child.
Your children don’t need to be YouTube stars, but with music so beneficial to many aspects of their lives, you can help them tap into this rich resource throughout their development!
Jeanine Roddy, M.A., CCC-SLP
Frisco Feeding & Speech Therapy
We have worked with a range of clients from infancy to young adults striving to achieve their full potential. Every child is different and every solution is a personalized treatment program based on a thorough speech & feeding evaluation.