By Estelle Sobel Erasmus
If you’ve ever wondered whether singing to your child makes a difference in his or her development, then ponder no further. The value of music in a child’s development is critical according to the latest research, cited in Psychological Science, which says that in a study of a group of children (ages 4-6) those children who received music training in rhythm and melody for two hours a day for 4 weeks, exhibited significant gains in verbal ability and improved self-control, attention and memory.
Besides offering children an opportunity to act silly, have fun and let loose; music can help develop language, concentration, social skills confidence and self-esteem.
According to music education expert Kenneth K. Guilmartin, Founder/Director of Music Together® celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, “All children are naturally musical. Just as they are born with the potential to learn to speak and understand language, they have the ability from birth to learn music.”
With a little early nurturing, you can help your child reach his or her musical potential.
Guilmartin offers some tips to help your children along on their musical journey:
Take a Chance; Sing and Dance: Kids learn through imitation. You know, if you read books and have a love of reading, they’ll want to read. If you sing and dance, they will, too. Making music doesn’t have to depend on playing a CD. Sing, bang a drum, get up and dance. Forget about hitting perfect notes or getting every word right. This is not American Idol! It’s about sharing your enjoying of music with your child.
Make Music Your Muse: Respond musically to cues from your child. For example, if your baby or toddler “coos” on a pitch, return the sound. Join in with your child if she starts singing in the car or when she’s playing. If your child brings you an instrument, or creates one, make sure to stop what you are doing and play along.
Show That Family Time is Sublime: Make music as a family. Initiate a dance party or a sing-along. Pull out the pots and pans and form a marching band. Try nixing TV time or technology (i.e., computer games) in favor of a fun, musical evening at home.
Say a “Sound” Goodnight: Create a regular bedtime routine by singing a lullaby, either alone or together. The soothing sound of your voice can provide your child with an oasis of calm in a busy day.
Don’t Pass on a Music Class: You may feel your schedule is already too busy to add one more activity to it. But don’t miss out on joining an early childhood music program that offers a rich musical experience in a fun, informal environment, without the pressure to “perform.” The fact that you are sharing the experience with your child is just the icing on the cake–and may even bring out your inner musician.
All children can learn to sing in tune and move to the music, as long as they are started on that path early. Bottom line: “It’s not important that you sing or move well; its important that you model singing and moving for your child,” says Guilmartin.
So the next time your child is humming the theme to her favorite cartoon and rocking to the beat, make sure you join in and make some music together.
Music Together® is an internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children birth through age seven. The Music Together curriculum, is based on the recognition that all children are musical: all children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat, and participate with confidence in the music of our culture, provided that their early environment supports such learning.