If you have a young child at home, you’ve likely noticed how much they enjoy listening to and moving along with music. Aside from being entertaining and fun, music has cognitive benefits for young children. Here are some reasons why music is important.
Music helps develop language and literacy skills
Studies performed in the 1990s showed that, “exposure to music from early childhood onwards helps children to speak more clearly [and] develop a larger vocabulary.” In addition, according to Susan Hallam of the University of London’s Institute of Education, speech and music have a number of shared processing systems in the brain. This means that listening to and singing along to songs can lead to improvement in a child’s understanding of language.
Music helps to strengthen motor skills
When a young child listens to music, they often cannot seem to resist clapping, jumping, or dancing. Exposure to music helps your child develop fine motor skills such as balance and coordination, and gross motor skills such as marching and sitting upright.
Music can help your child learn math skills
For young children, math concepts are simple, focused on pattern recognition and shapes. Even the most basic song features repeating patterns in its rhythm that a child can follow along with. Additionally, children can get hands-on experience in creating patterns when they perform a song themselves with instruments such as a drum or xylophone.
Music can relieve stress
From their earliest days, children can be soothed by gentle and relaxing music. Listening to their favorite song can help your child feel energized and uplifted, but it can also help them cope with stressful situations. According to neuroscience educator Dee Joy Coulter, “There is no vehicle more joyful and playful for providing [resiliency] training than early childhood music.”
Every parent can help their child gain exposure to music. Whether or not you are musical yourself, you can encourage your child to sing, dance, and listen to music regularly. Many preschools offer music programs as part of their curriculum. In addition, local libraries, recreation centers, and places of worship can be ideal places to find musical experiences for your child.