Enrolling your young child in a music class can have more benefits than you ever imagined. Children spend their early years developing social, emotional and cognitive skills. This process starts at birth and continues throughout life. In order to raise a child with good skills in these areas, a parent must work start her child young, sometimes as young as six months after birth. Experts agreed that music and movement is one of the most important tools in the development of a child’s learning skills.
In the context of early childhood development, music has traditionally, and intuitively, been a form used in every culture and creed to educate, entertain, engage and soothe the young. For as long as civilizations exist, parents have engaged their children in games and activities that are often accompanied by songs, rhymes and dancing. Morals and values are taught through songs or poems and stories. A lullaby sung over and over not only soothes the child into slumber, it also bonds the child to the adult for it instills a sense of security. Whether one uses an African lullaby or an Irish one, a Japanese finger play song, or a French rhyme to be accompanied by a lap bounce, music has been effective in teaching children how to relate to the world even before they learn to speak or write.
Very often, today’s parents neither have the time, nor the repertoire of games and activities to engage their young early in life to develop these skills. Fortunately, this can be re-captured through dedicated parent-&-child music classes where familiar as well as new and exotic musical ideas from multi-cultures are shared.
Helene Goldnadel believes that these critical areas of development can be successfully taught and imparted within a relaxed yet intentional musical session. For example, an egg shaker that is shaken, tapped and rolled to a steady beat of the music can also becomes an object for exploring the concept of object permanence when mommy plays a hide-and-seek game with the child. The child or toddler’s curiosity is piqued when confronted with different types of shakers making different sounds, for example, the big metal bottle containing beans versus the small Yakult bottle containing fine sand. The concepts of Intentionality and Relatedness are encouraged when the child gets to associate loud sound with the big container and vice versa.
The act of sharing instruments in a music class, and learning to play and stop when required are perfect examples of building self-control. Learning to hold hands in circle games or dances not only develops confidence and fosters cooperation but help the child relate to other adults and children in the circle.
Good Communication is contingent upon the presence of two simultaneous areas of development - listening skills and speech production. Knowing when to listen, and when to express one-self is an important communication skill. A properly conducted music and movement class which offers ample listening opportunities to the child will help develop a readiness to listen well. The same listening skill extends to the ability to discern and discriminate different sounds. For example, singing, reading, mimicking the sound of various musical instruments help the child build up his vocal range and linguistic ability. Furthermore, good listening skills also pave the way for the child to process auditory information successfully.
For hundreds if not thousands of years, music and movement has been practiced by parents from all different races, religions, cultures and social backgrounds to introduce and teach their children their first speech, movement, listening faculty, and to establish a strong bond between the child, parent, and the society they live in. It is time some of these age-old wisdom is re-adopted.