Little known fact about me, I used to teach a toddler music class. The program I was certified in is called Musikgarten. It’s a really neat program if you are interested, here is their website and anyone can be certified (you just have to take the class and do some singing ;). I’ve always loved music, and ever since I was young my parents gave me various opportunities to participate in it. From singing at church in my nursery class, to doing children’s choir, and even playing in an orchestra for seven years, it seems like I have always been involved in some sort of music. If you would believe it, I have sung in choirs and been in an orchestra with both of my co-writers… But little did I know how important music was in child development!
Music and movement can do wonders for body awareness and balance. Bouncing a baby or child to the beat of a song helps them be aware of their body in an organized way. They can hear the beat and see that their body is moving, even if they don’t fully understand what music is! This is a great activity to do with your little one, since they will have to correct their body to stay balanced and upright. You can try this with any age of child (though I don’t think you could get your teenagers to agree to it ;). Encourage the use of different items around your house; scarves, shakers, bells, anything that makes movement fun!
Music and movement can help with language skills too. It is easier for a child to connect words with movement, and adding a rhythm can make it even easier. Encouraging your child to imitate actions, or interact with you while dancing or moving to music is a great pre-language skill. Encourage your little one to raise their arms up high and down low. You can even teach body parts or names with music. Singing songs about animals, toys, or people that are familiar to a child will give more meaning to the words they are singing.
Music and movement is amazing for helping children with self-esteem. When we let a child freely move to music, and offer praise and smiles, the child feels that they are in control and are expressing themselves. Singing songs and adding a child’s name can make them feel special and loved. Children aren’t worried about how they sound or look, and teaching them to freely express themselves early on will set a stage for success!
I know that I often talk about young children, but music is great for children of any age, even adolescents. Adolescents like to have their own identity and one way to express who they are is through music. Giving your teenager exposure to various types of music can let them know that you want them to find out who they are too.
I’m sure many of you have used music or lullabies to soothe an upset baby. Music can really change the mood of a situation. I once worked in a daycare classroom of 14 two year olds… Now I only work with one at a time (and it is much easier.) But goodness, in my classroom music saved my life. Two year olds are into everything! They wanted to pull all the toys out, they wanted to play in the drinking fountain, they wanted their shoes off, then on again, then back to the fountain, the list could go on 😉 I soon learned that if I started singing a familiar song, they would give their attention to me, and I would always give actions so that they were doing something productive with their hands. 9/10 times it worked. No toys were taken out, no toddler was covered in water from the drinking fountain. They were all there and I had their full attention. Even singing the “Clean Up” song, ‘Clean up, Clean up, everybody, everywhere…’ (We all know Barney was good for something), made cleaning fun instead of a chore. Next time you are having a hard time getting your toddler to cooperate, try singing to them what you are doing next, or what you would want them to do. The great thing about children is they can’t tell if you are a bad singer or not, so feel free to cut loose!
I recently read ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. And one of her goals was to sing in the morning. She mentions how it made her mornings more lighthearted and when she wasn’t singing, her little ones would encourage her to. I hope that you can find more ways to incorporate and use music and movement in your daily routine.
What is your toddler’s favorite song to sing?