How to ‘Do Music’ With Your Little Ones
We all know that music is a great way to support positive child development in early childhood, but how can we get the most out of ‘doing music’ with our little ones?
Music Works When You’re Having Fun!
Music is a powerful tool for supporting healthy social, emotional, and cognitive development in children, but only if they’re having fun!
In a study into the relationship between music and child development, Hallam (2010) found that the benefits of music were only observed in children who found it an “enjoyable and rewarding experience.”.
We recommend putting on music that everyone enjoys (including mum and dad), and encourage singing, dancing, and playing along to everyone’s favourite songs. Some 'children's music' is totally awesome, but if it’s getting on your nerves, throw on some child-friendly bangers from the good old days.
I recently made a rock’n’roll playlist for my 5year old, and he loves it! He also loves the wiggles, but he knows mum and dad get more excited, and more involved, when it’s music we all know and love.
The key is to make listening to, singing along with, and playing music an enjoyable and rewarding experience for everyone.
Music Is an Awesome Tool for Learning New Things
We all remember the alphabet song (in fact most people in a dementia ward probably remember the alphabet song). That’s because music is a powerful tool for learning, and imprinting new knowledge.
Have fun exploring the world with your kids using music. The letters of their name, the planets in the sky, the months of the year, how to share with your sister. All of these things can be learned and re-enforced through music.
Music Can Make Boring Things Fun
In our house, getting our kids to brush their teeth was almost always a battle of the wills, and would inevitably lead to frustration, and of often tears... Then came the ‘brush your teeth song’, that my wife made up, and suddenly it’s just another fun and connecting activity that we do every day with our kids.
The words are silly, the tune is terrible, and the kids love it.
Music Can Sweeten the Whare
Nobody is perfect, but we all hope that our kids will look back on their childhood with fond memories and nostalgia. We want them to remember 'home' as a place where they were safe and loved, and where life was good.
Music can help. When both parents are feeling grumpy and worn out, a little music can sweeten the atmosphere and lift the mood.
Music Can Help to Connect Children (and adults) With Their Emotions
There is a body of research which demonstrates how certain tones can stimulate certain emotions. Songs in 'major', for example, ellicit feelings of happiness in both adults and children, while songs in 'minor' create feelings of sadness (Gregory et al., 1996).
Connecting with emotions in this way is a great way for children to process the huge range of emotions they go through each day in a healthy way.
Music can also provide opportunities to model talking about your emotions. For example, when dad says, “I feel really sad when I listen to this song”, he’s demonstrating that it’s ok to feel sad, and modelling how to talk about it. A lot of kids don’t get often get that from their dads.
There are many other positive benefits and ways to enjoy music with your kids. The important thing is to enjoy it, and the rest will take care of itself.
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