What’s the big deal about encouraging the kids to sing and dance? Rich environments produce rich brains and every experience we present to the kids we provide care for is another way to enrich their learning. But is music really important to development?
Obviously it helps develop motor skills, develops a positive attitude toward physical activity, and is just plain fun, but there are deeper reasons to expose young children to music and movement opportunities. I totally geek out when it comes to brain development in young children. I am in awe of the mold-ability of children’s brains at the age I teach in my home preschool. Sometimes I get a little sciency when it comes to this subject, but I am totally enamored with the power we hold in our hands as we teach!
Listening to music and playing music games helps children use both sides of their brain at the same time. It stimulates the frontal lobe, which develops language and motor skills. The rhythm of music reinforces language. Since the brain goes through a major growth spurt between ages 2-6, music and movement is of utmost importance in the toddler and preschool years.
Movement causes the brain to produce endorphins, our feel good chemicals. These chemicals increase energy levels and the ability to learn. In addition, movement increases oxygen in the blood which sends more oxygen to the brain helping in thought processes.
Music and movement activities include cross lateral movement, or crossing the midline of the body. Think of making big scissors with your hands in front of your body or giving yourself a hug. This movement is incredibly important in brain development. When children’s arms or legs cross the midsection of the body, both sides of the brain work together which strengthens brain connections exponentially. This stimulates critical thinking, and problem solving, as well as math and reading skills. Music and movement is full of opportunities for producing stronger brain connections.
Children of any age as well as adults receive benefits from music and movement activities. Singing songs and doing finger plays and rhymes with kids are great ways to get them interested in the rhythm of music. Exposing children to all kinds of music gives them an appreciation for a variety of rhythms and tones and increases their learning as well. Every week we have music day where I play music on cds and let the kids dance with instruments and dancing ribbons and scarves. It’s truly the highlight of our week. We use disco music, oldies rock songs, kid’s songs, show tunes, and soundtracks from movies to get in the mood. The kids get to choose what they want to dance to, but I will tell you that disco is king here. I don’t know how the children I get all seem to come here loving disco, but it has NOTHING to do with me. Finger plays are good for stimulating development as well. Letting your kids make homemade instruments or dancing props is a great way to get their interest going.
There are innumerable games, songs, rhymes, finger plays and chants available online to beef up your repertoire. We usually learn one new song, rhyme, or finger play every two weeks or so. When we have our daily music time, we usually do that activity along with two others the kids choose, so we focus on really learning the new one well. How ever you choose to add music and movement into your day doesn’t matter, just do something to increase the kids’ exposure to it and you are on the right track.
Music is the life of my soul. I love most kinds of music. I love loud music, quiet music, elevator music, I don’t care. I just love it all. Music can soothe my broken heart, bring me into the throne room of God to worship Him, wake me up, get my heart beating, connect me to others, calm me, put me to sleep, and many other things. There’s magic in the melodies and harmonies that are created by the artists who make songs. I think people NEED music.
The lives we touch are ours to change. We make a difference every single day. Whether you work with kids or adults, or whoever, be the best you that you can be. Do something new today that will change a life for the better.
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