From birth, the two aspects of development that are continual are language and aotor skills. Both are greatly influenced by each other and even more interestingly, music. Therefore, it is important to start developing a love for and involvement in music at birth and continue throughout life.
In this post and its pages you will find:
- 7 easy-to-implement ideas for incorporating music into your day
- 16 scholarly links throughout this post linked as a number in parenthesis detailing the benefits of music for babies.
- Music recommendations for babies
- Some of the best musical instruments and tools to start with your kids
Here is what is most fascinating about music to me… it can be viewed as a math or a language. I personally view it as a language because I am more left-brained. However, my engineer husband views music more as a mathematical pattern.
While we all can perceive it as both, we usually gravitate towards just one. Regardless though, music is important for both mathematical and language development in later years, making it a crucial part of a child’s daily play.
Before going through different implementations, you should know that music is “one of the most complex and demanding cognitive challenges that the human mind can undertake” (0).
It involves more than just language and speaking.
It involves more than ratios, patterns, and other mathematical properties.
It also involves more than just the kinesthetics of manipulating a musical instrument or their own bodies.
It’s all of them, at the same time.
Therefore, it’s one of the most important aspects of a child’s development and is vital to implement in their daily learning for motor and cognitive development.
7 ways to implement music routinely with your kids
Do one a day each week to rotate through ideas and enjoy music together with your babies and young children.
Some of the first sounds babies make are cooing, and if you use those noises appropriately and encourage them, they can turn into musical songs which greatly influence language development (1).
I found that even when my daughter was only a few months old, if I would sing to her, she would sing back to me.
Singing with instruments means kids learn timing and how to match harmonies as well as other higher cognitive functions in making music (aka – they probably won’t be tone deaf) (5). It’s also important to note, that matching phonetic language with rhythmic notes is important in establishing neural relationships.
Rhythm, by definition, is a repeated pattern of movement or sounds.
Therefore, bang pots together, clap, or beat the ground keeping the same speed and pattern each time. Why is this important and how does it relate to language and math? Many children with dyslexia seem to struggle with rhythm and patterns which means the benefits of music for babies could mean helping them understand patterns better to potentially prevent dyslexia and other similar issues (6).
Helping a child learn to recognize patterns through rhythmic play will with help their brains develop crucial language and math skills in the future. It is suggested that babies have an innate ability to both hear and see patterns and that implementing them through music helps their brains process those relationships (7).
Children especially use patterns to bring order in times of disorder, making the consistency of your action important. Examples of extra-musical patterns? Crying=always makes mom come comfort baby. Doing something bad=getting punished. Therefore, raising a child in an environment of patterns and rhythms actually helps babies and kids build relational neural connections (8).
Kids and babies love to play and bang things around, it’s a great way to release all those pent up emotions and energies.
One great thing you can do is show even your infants the differences between the mediums used in making music.
The accompanying sounds of using different materials against one another (i.e. metal against wood, metal on metal, so on and so forth), creates more patterns and relationships as discussed above. Other activities include using the same mediums in different ways. For instance, fill a metal bowl with water or place it on a tile floor instead of carpet, turn it upside-down, put your hand in it, etc..
Other ideas, include humming, vibrating lips, and other sounds that can be made with just the body. This allows children to express themselves, especially when words are not sufficient. My oldest daughter, since 3 months has hummed and purred with certain emotions rather than cooing or babbling.
Get the next 4 ways to implement music with your baby.
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!