Love and nourishment are the cornerstones of healthy development for every baby. But music also plays a vital role. We've been crooning to our newborns since the dawn of time. We rock them and sing lullabies for good reason: it is fundamental to a child's healthy development.
Early learning begins in the senses – through touch, taste, smell, sight and listening. And learning is faster when baby can focus on simple things, one at a time. Neural pathways are rapidly developing as they taste a particular taste or hear a particular sound. Babies hear sounds and feel the rhythm of mum's heartbeat in the womb. As newborns, they associate their experience of our moods with the sounds around them; loving voices are soothing, while sudden loud noises are distressing. As you nurse, the steady beat of your heart is baby’s experience of rhythm. As you shake baby’s rattle and sing, baby is responding to the high frequency sounds and the drama in your voice; this natural progression from simple isolated sounds and songs on your lap, through to sophisticated sing-along songs for older children. In any arena ‘you gotta crawl before you can walk’.
Quality children’s music is a response to the genuine developmental needs of the young. As parents
and teachers we are tempted to play the music we like, because kids like it too. They respond to the beat, and to our enjoyment. But they're likely to develop musically and emotionally at a faster rate when we provide and enjoy developmentally appropriate children's music with them. When their music also charms us, it's a bonus, because that helps us be more involved for our child's sake.
At the dinner table, we know our children would not do well in the long run if we fed them a mono diet of sugary, fried foods, even though they love them. Just as we respectfully introduce babies to a variety of simple foods that suit their age & stage, we do best providing them with a variety of music that celebrates them; their age & stage, their issues, their struggles, their victories and their sense of humour.
Let's help our children progress from simple nursery songs, through dance and action songs, to a wealth of stimulating music set in their own world; they need children’s music - because they are children!
Quality children’s music, in an atmosphere of love:
- Promotes healthy parent-child bonding
- Establishes a foundation for a child’s development in speech and reading
- Provides a "good-feeling" base for a healthy self image
- Helps to develop motor skills and co-ordination
- Helps build memory skills
- Awakens humour and creativity
Next time you’re thinking of a new toy for your child, consider music. Children tire of many toys quickly, but note how often they come back to their musical instruments and how they ask for their favourite songs to be re-played.
Music is primal. And perhaps it is the one worldly thing that can take us through our emotional world to touch the sublime. Our children not only deserve music, it helps them learn and develop. It is an essential ingredient in being human.