Early childhood education, for children, is the beginning of a students academic experience. This is an important time of learning and brain development for children in preparation for the rest of their education. Patterned activities at home or in the preschool classroom, such as clapping to music or jumping in time to a beat stimulate brain function and help the brain to organize thoughts and behaviors.
The latest research published in the American Journal of Neuroscience showed that people who took music lessons during childhood seem to have a faster brain response to speech much later in life – even if the child musicians hadn’t picked up their instruments in decades.
Several different types of music and movement activities can be incorporated into early childhood years. Teaching songs, such as the “ABCs” Or “if you’re Happy and You Know It” while clapping or tapping along can teach rhythm and cadence while learning new words. Songs that involve action and hand gestures that follow the music teach children not only the meaning of some new words, but also to move and sing at the same time. Listening and playing music can help improve childrens’ concentration, patience, self-confidence, coordination and relaxation.
Birth to Age 3
Music acts as a source of comfort and connection for babies and toddlers. Little ones love to hear the sound of the human voice, especially moms and dads. As a parent, you can use music to create routines and touchstones for your small child. Sing a special lullaby at bedtime—children love the familiarity of repetition. Use music as a way to transition from one part of the day to another. If your child goes to day care or preschool, sing a special “going to school” song or play a CD in the car. This helps your child know what to expect and can make both your lives more peaceful.
Ages 3 to 4
Around age 3, most children will begin to take a real interest in music. Combining music with movement such as clapping, jumping, dancing and waving helps improve coordination, reducing frustration and limiting “I cant do it!” tantrums. Children this age can focus a bit longer and are ready to bang on simple instruments such as a drum, toy piano or tambourine. Playing simple music and dancing can also help children express emotions such as anger, excitement and anxiety, giving them an outlet besides tears or destructive behaviors.
Ages 4 to 6
Age 4 to 6 is just the right time to start music lessons like piano or string instruments. At this age children can focus for short periods of time on one task and are naturally ready to develop fine motor skills. The practice periods required to learn an instrument can teach your child patience and improve concentration, which make routine tasks like waiting in line or learning to read less frustrating for your little guy.