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9 ways music & movement helps young kids learn

 
By adding music to movement young kids gain so many more benefits beyond movement alone, and it is lots of fun! From developing their language, memory and social skills to creative thinking and focused listening, they also start to build music foundations such as singing in tune and moving in time. So what can young kids get out of well-written music and movement experiences?
By adding music to movement young kids gain so many more benefits beyond movement alone, and it is lots of fun!

From developing their language, memory and social skills to creative thinking and focused listening, they also start to build music foundations such as singing in tune and moving in time.

Children’s brains grow at their fastest rate in the first three years of their life, so it makes sense to offer rich sensory learning experiences during this time such as musical activities.

So what can young kids get out of well-written music and movement experiences?
 

1. Overall health

We know kids learn through doing, and that movement whether it’s running around or dancing away to music, is critical in a child’s development.

Movement is important for developing strength in their bones and muscles, developing their blood circulation and overall health.
 

2. Co-ordination

Through songs which require movement or specific actions, children learn to co-ordinate their hands, feet and bodies in actions that are not normally part of everyday life, but can help develop extensive connections across their brain.

Songs with a beat or lyrics which encourage children to walk, hop, jump, gallop, skip, crawl, stamp, or creep all help develop their motor skills, balance and co-ordination.
 

3. Feeling good

Music motivates kids to move. Up-tempo music is energizing and fun and movement associated with that music oxygenates their brains, and pumps blood round their bodies making them feel good.
 

4. Body awareness & balance

Songs which ask kids to swing, stretch, bend, twist and spin help to develop their body awareness and balance.
 

5. Language development

By immersing children in musical activities, they start to develop their language skills too.

Children’s songs often have repeated phrases and use rhyme, which makes them easier for young kids to remember.

Songs which have words that describe their actions help children to understand language.

For example, if you sing a song about going up and down, and your hands and the melody move up and down, then your little one will start to develop a real understanding of the concepts  ‘up’ and ‘down’.

Words have syllables which can become rhythms, and an awareness of syllables helps spelling and reading later on.
 

6. Memory

Don’t just play music and expect kids to get much benefit. Instead use musical activities to help them improve their memory.

Musical activities are multi-sensory and because they involve vision, hearing and movement, so many brain areas are involved.

There are lots of sequences in music too, whether they are words, rhythms, melodies or actions and these all help to make the memories and learning more lasting than just watching or hearing something.
 

7. Focused listeners

Music builds focused listeners, and as adults, wouldn’t we all love kids to be able to listen more effectively!

Because musical activities use sound, there are constant cues for the children to notice and react to.

They learn to drive their bodies in movements which match the music, then change them when the music or the lyrics asks them to. 
 

8. Imagination

Songs which are about pretending to do something or be something help develop kids’ imagination as well as language associated with that topic.

For example, a song about digging in the garden uses different words (and actions) to one about flying a spaceship.

Songs can also help children to visualise what they’re singing about.
 

9. Stimulation

Music and movement combined are a great way to stimulate young kids.

For example, when a child marches around the room to music and plays a drum, many different sorts of stimulation enter their brain at once:
 
  • They listen to the music and then need to co-ordinate their walking in time with the beat.
 
  • They play the drum with their hands while co-ordinating their feet, building complex connections in their brain.
 
  • Sometimes the drum beat may be at half the speed that their feet are moving. This introduces maths concepts of division into their brain.
 
  • Children develop eye strength through hand-eye co-ordination as they bring their hands into contact with the drum. They also develop eye strength to focus on different objects/people at different distances as they move around and peripheral vision as they move around the room.
 
  • They develop body awareness by knowing how much space they take up in a room, and their spatial awareness by walking in free space around objects or other people while they are also moving.
 
  • They sing, using their ears to aid them in tuning their voice to match the song.
 
  • They develop their language capabilities by learning the words of the song, with the aid of the rhyme and rhythm.
 
  • They develop their memory by learning the sequence of words in the song.
 
  • They develop social skills by moving with other people, sharing a space and giving way to others.

You could be forgiven for thinking that children were just playing and dancing around, but in reality there are so many possible learning opportunities in well-written music and movement experiences.


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Source: This article was written by Janet Channon, Director of Kids Music Company - holistic, user-friendly kids music classes and activities to help babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and school-age children develop their bodies and brains, setting them up for life.
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