There’s something about music that moves us, regardless of our age or gender, often in ways we don’t quite realize. It’s no secret that it has the ability to influence us deeply, affecting our brain activity, stimulating us on a chemical level. Music, as all art, is an expression of emotion, and emotion, as we all know, is important to express.
Why is it then that music and visual arts programs are always the first ones on the school system chopping blocks? Since it seems to be such an integral part of our lives, one that touches us on a social, emotional and intellectual level, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at some of the ways preschool-aged children, specifically, react to it. How exactly does music affect toddlers?
Are There Any Lasting Benefits for Music Education in Preschool?
While on my mission to answer said question, I came upon a great post over on greenmomscollective.ca entitled THE LASTING BENEFITS OF A MUSIC EDUCATION. It pointed out four truly interesting facts from Toronto’s very own Royal Conservatory of Music’s website blog, namely:
1- That music improves IQ, memory, and focus in early childhood.
2- That, because of music, there are notable gains in speech and reading.
3- That it increases emotional intelligence and empathy.
4- And that there are life-long health benefits.
But, here’s what I really appreciated from greenmomscollective.ca’s blog post, although, quite possibly, it many seem to some people as just a simple generalization: Music has a way of connecting people.
How Can Music Help with Child Development?
Music touches upon many areas of child development. It ignites the areas of the brain that control social, emotional, intellectual, language, motor, and literacy centres. What else does it do? It sparks creativity and helps the mind and body work together. Exposing young children to music during their early stages of development helps them to learn the different sounds and meanings of words.
Furthermore, dancing (to music, of course!) enables kids to build up their motor skills, all the while permitting them to practice self-expression. In both children and adults, listening to music helps them to strengthen memory skills.
Now, here’s something we tend to forget at times. Music just plain gives us joy. Think about your toddler’s favorite song playing in the car, with the volume cranked up (to an acceptable!) high, on a gorgeous sunny day, as it repeats over, and over, and over… and over. Parents, you know that smile. That’s called joy. Yes, music does that.
How Does Music Specifically Help Preschoolers?
In preschool-aged toddlers, making music is a wonderfully dynamic social-oriented learning experience. As they make music together, toddlers learn the meaning of teamwork, each child contributing in their own special way to the song. All the while, children learn an invaluable lesson: that, together as a team, they can make something beautiful. Something bigger and brighter than the sum of its uniquely individual pieces.