It’s long been said that music soothes the soul, and for kids, a great tune can do much more.
Research shows that musical education helps children develop fine motor skills, ignite creativity and enhance socialization.
And a study from McMaster University shows that it’s never too early to shake a maraca or bang away on mom and dad’s pots and pans. They say that 12-month-old babies who take part in interactive music classes with their parents communicate better, show earlier brain responses and even smile more.
Here’s a few more skills your kids can pick up while cranking the tunes:
Fine motor skills
This is your baby using their little muscles for small actions, like holding up a spoon or picking up a small object (like a rattle). A report by the U.S. Coalition Arts Education Partnership (AEP) highlights that the parts of the brain used for sensory and motor function are developed through music instruction, so it’s never too early to sign up for those parent and tot music classes.
Empathy and social skills
Music affects mood and emotion, and when music is played, children pick up on the changes in human voice that reveal emotion. The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) sites that it’s not necessarily the words of a song, but the emotion behind the lyrics that are key to creating empathy and emotional intelligence in toddlers.
It’s that thing our minds are able to do once we guzzle our morning coffee — store and remember information. AEP’s research shows that little musicians are able to “sustain mental control during memory and recall tasks” from long-term musical training.
Speech and reading ability
A musical education and interaction can help children learn words faster, develop a broader vocabulary and even read sooner. This is done by music tickling the areas of the brain that identify and break-up sounds. According to RCM, this skill helps understand our native language as well as new ones.
Each toddler stomps and twirls to their own beat. RCM’s study highlights this creative connection as a result of the communication between each side of the brain, and this connection helps to cultivate and increase creativity.
So what’s the best way to help your child develop these skills? Here’s a few fun ideas:
- DIY instruments: If you have a toilet paper roll and handful of rice, you’ve got yourself a homemade maraca. Coffee cans and pots and pans make for great drums too. Here’s some inspiration.
- Join a music class: Local community centres off a ton of affordable musical programs for all ages. It’s a great social experience for the whole family.
- Rock out at a concert: There’s a ton of musical talent right here in Vancouver, all of which put on daily concerts all over Metro Vancouver. Take the tots to one of these artists for a little shakin’ all over.
- Sing your heart out: the car, the playroom, in the middle of the street – just belt out their favourite nursery songs. I find that bath-time offers great acoustics.
- Musical books: These are the books where your kids push the buttons and sing their heart out. Not recommended for trying to settle them down before bedtime.
- Share your music: I myself love music and throw my vinyl records on during the day for my kids. Classic rock makes great background music for tea parties.