Updated: Sep 14
Whether you realise it or not, music aids child development. Especially in the early years it is a huge part of our children’s learning process. If you were to sit and analyse how much of their development is through musical activities you might be surprised at what you'd find.
Working in the children's television space for companies like CBeebies, and Disney I have found myself singing a lot of songs and working with music pretty much all the time. On the surface you may think it's all about keeping it fun and exciting for the kids. It is predominantly about this, but there are so many other underling reasons that help child development. Most of us don't think about these but hopefully this post will give you a little insight into the bigger picture.
Key in all of this is the way music is structured and the way our brains learn and retain information. Nearly all songs use repetition and that repetition continues long after a song is finished. We’ve all had a song stuck in our head when we didn’t want it. Couple this with the fact that the majority of us don’t have photographic memories, and you realise that our brains need repetition to retain information.
Music helps us to memorise things which is essential for development
The first thing to note when thinking if music aids child development is how we learn. If we look at some of the first things we learnt with any great structure, most will still remember the nursery rhymes we sang and the song we used to learn the alphabet. By adding rhythm and melody we have associated what we are learning with other things. Effectively giving us an extra reference point for memory recall. Almost like giving ourselves landmarks on a journey. These landmarks let us know we are on the right track in our memory.
Music enhances what we are learning
If we are using music and song what ever we are singing about becomes fun. Take head, shoulders knees and toes. We may be using it to teach our little ones about the parts of the body but because of the rhythm we have added, the song becomes a game. We try to point at the right body part in time with the music in turn we then speed it up music increasing the difficulty and adding more to the fun. In the end its all the fun that's been had around learning the body parts that has made it memorable and increased the learning opportunity. It’s something that CBeebies and a lot of their shows pride themselves on.
Singing together promotes communication with others
Whether our children are singing together in a group or learning a song 1-to-1 they are interacting with other people. Not only that, consultant in neuro-developmental education Sally Goddard Blythe thinks that singing nursery rhymes to babies before they can speak is a great pre cursor to language. She also claims that traditional songs aid a child's ability to think in words.
Being happy aids child development
Music makes us happy. This is an obvious one but also one that is not spoken about enough. Think back to your favourite teachers at school most of us will have memories of teachers that inspired us or made us understand things that we previously couldn't. Or maybe we will just have memories of good times in that teachers classroom. The common thing about all of these memories is that 9 times out of 10 we were happy in these moments of learning. Being happy is conducive to being in a good mental state, and when we are in a good mental state learning is easy. Who wants to learn anything when we're not happy.
Music encourages us to develop our creative side
Probably my favourite part about music is how it encourages creativity. From the very basic level of making up the words to a song through to scientific studies where music has been shown to affect divergent and convergent behaviours. Nobody can definitively tell you why this is but I like to think that because there are so many different things to listen to in music. The rhythm, the melody, the harmony, the volume, the mood, all of these these different aspects cause different responses in us. Therefore listening to different aspects triggers different creative responses, all with infinite stimulus and outcomes. Whatever you think, the more our creativity is encouraged the more we know who we are and what we like and that is a development of self that some grown adults are still searching for.
In conclusion, I hope this blog piece has given you some insight into how music aids child development and how we can use it to enhance our kid's learning environment. As a father I am passionate about sharing the knowledge on many different areas of parenting especially with dads. Which is why I created Dadvengers an online community (thats mums, grandparents and parenting professionals too) supporting dads on their journey through parenthood. Make sure you check us out and share with the dads in your circles. We are better together.