By Karen Lambe,
Early Childhood Educator
It’s so common, so much a part of our world, that we often take it for granted. From the early days of our baby’s life, when we gently tap in time to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the bottom of her feet to the Raffi CD that gets played over and over, music permeates our world. How wonderful that it does!
When children grow up hearing music, singing songs, and moving to the beat, it helps develop their language, physical coordination, and social skills. What can parents do to support musical learning?
Sing! With baby on the changing table, sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” Point to baby’s parts and end with a big clap. Sway and dance with baby in your arms to a waltz or a salsa. Clap in rhythm to “Happy Birthday to You.”
As your child gets older, share classic nursery rhyme songs. Sing “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” and make up some movements to go with it. This is the way we: Jump up and down . . . Sway to and fro . . . Give a big hug . . . All fall down!
Practice copy dancing, where you invite your child to imitate your movements and then let him or her lead as you follow. Give your child scarves to dance with. Combining music and movement helps toddlers and preschoolers learn to control their bodies in space.
Help your child develop a keen awareness of the sounds of the world and their differences: the steady beat of the kitchen clock, the groaning of wind through tree branches. Even his or her own speaking voice: “This is my speaking voice” (spoken normally). “This is my quiet voice” (spoken in a whisper). “This is my calling voice” (spoken loudly). “This is my singing voice!”
Fill your child’s world with opportunities to be musical:
– Play music in the car or as you do chores together. Cook to music, clean to music, take time to just sit and listen.
– Keep a basketful of simple, homemade instruments (a lidded yogurt container with a few dried beans inside or a coffee-can drum) where your child can use them to accompany a song.
– Consider buying a kid-friendly CD player your child can operate and keep in his or her room.
– Find out what songs are being sung at school and sing them at home.
And for a special treat, take your child to a live music performance. Come to Providence Children’s Museum during April vacation week to hear talented singer Maria Sangiolo perform her new show, “Under the Mystic Sea” — and sing along together!
When you encourage a love of music, you are giving a gift that will last a lifetime!
News and Notes from Providence Children’s Museum: Occasional posts about things to do with our kids – from places to go, things to make, ideas to think about, and ways to explore. Providence Children’s Museum – 100 South Street, Providence, RI. 401-273-5437 (KIDS).