KICK START YOUR CHILD’S DEVELOPMENT WITH MUSIC
Does your baby enjoy listening to music? Do you find yourself singing to your child? Even when you were pregnant did you find your baby would react to loud or stimulating music?
Most of us instinctively understand that our children react positively to songs, but what we may not fully appreciate is how those endless repetitions of “Twinkle Twinkle” are a fundamental part of our babies’ mental, physical and social development, helping our children to “wire up” their brains, develop their speech and improve their co-ordination.
So what is so special about nursery rhymes and how can they help our babies? Firstly, exposing children to music enables their brains to develop more rapidly. When a baby is born, the neurons in the brain are largely unconnected and exposure to different stimuli helps develop their neural networks.
Recent research has shown that music can act as a stimulus to “wire up” the brain more rapidly and speed up a child’s mental development.
In fact, it is believed that exposing young babies to music can increase the speed of neural connections even before they are born.
Music can also help significantly with language development in small children. As babies start to babble, they are picking up the “phonemes” or building blocks of their own language. It may sound like gibberish to start with but through babbling babies will gradually settle on the sounds of their mother tongue, starting with simple utterances such as “mama” and “dada”.
Babies will imitate sounds and make melodic experimentations, and using simple rhythmic patters and rhymes like those found in nursery rhymes helps them to develop their ability to make meaningful sounds and eventually words. It’s no accident that some of our most popular rhymes contain lots of repetition of those linguistic building blocks (“Baa Baa Black Sheep” and “Row Row Row the Boat” spring to mind). And repetition is certainly key to this process. So when your child is asking you to sing the same song for the 15th time, just remember how it is helping them with their speech.
Songs can also help children learn about the world around them. There are lots of number songs, which help toddlers learn to count. And you can also explore concepts such as colours, animals, transport, even telling the time, through song. Playing instruments, dancing, clapping, movement and simple action songs, can also help with your child’s motor skills and develop their general co-ordination.
And finally, please don’t forget the social and emotional benefits which music can provide. Music builds and strengthens bonds of trust and communication between adults and children and involving a child in musical sessions can help to encourage their self-expression and confidence. Put simply, music is fun for both adults and children alike.
So if all this sounds great, but you’ve forgotten all your nursery rhymes and don’t know how to introduce your baby or toddler to music, here are some simple steps you can follow to help your child’s development through music.
Finally, it is not only the kids that benefit. It is believed that musicians are less likely to suffer from senile dementia, so come on mums and dads, why don’t you take your children to a music group and enjoy the benefits with them!
Tara Dye, Jo Jingles Franchisee for South Essex
For more information about this article, or for details of local Jo Jingles baby, toddler and pre-school music groups, please contact Tara Dye on 01702 556352 or see our website at www.jojingles.com/southessex.