Benefits of Musical Play

When my first child was 6 months old, I took her to her first music and movement class. 

Initially, I signed up so I had an excuse to get out of the house and catch up with a girlfriend and her baby once a week, but as we continued, I watched her grow and it turned into something so much more. 

I honestly think it’s part of the reason my now Grade 1 kid is reading at a Grade 3 level. Music boosted her language and cognitive skills.  

Research shows that providing your little one with musical experiences can significantly boost their brainpower. Besides cultivating an early appreciation of music, musical play also provides rich cognitive and developmental benefits. For example, playing music to your baby can activate the neural pathways responsible for many skills, including memory, math, and emotional intelligence.

Pretty cool, huh?

Further, studies have shown that introducing your baby to music can help them develop early language skills and master complex concepts faster. 

This is all well and good, but what if you don’t have a music class near you? It’s absolutely possible to lasso the benefits of music for your baby at home by incorporating toddler music activities into your routine.

Making a Musical Impact on Your Child’s Development

From the moment they enter the world, babies are naturally drawn to music. Studies suggest that even in the womb, fetuses are receptive to the rhythmic patterns and melodies they hear. As they grow through their first year on the outside, music continues to play a crucial role in their development. 

Music Improves Attention and Memory

The repetitive nature of simple nursery rhymes and songs helps babies and toddlers focus on and develop their memory skills. They learn to anticipate familiar sounds and respond to changes in rhythm and pitch. They even learn about the structure of music, including verses and choruses.

Music Enhances Social and Emotional Skills

Music evokes emotions in babies, allowing them to explore and express joy, sadness, or even excitement through sounds and movements. Music helps all of us – no matter the age – feel and discover emotions. 

Engaging in musical activities with others fosters social interaction and collaboration. Toddlers learn to take turns, communicate effectively, and appreciate the contributions of others, preparing them for a successful social experience in school.

Music provides a platform for self-expression and exploration. As toddlers master new musical skills, their confidence and self-esteem grow, equipping them with a positive attitude towards learning in various settings.

Music Supports Language Development

Singing and listening to songs exposes babies to new sounds and patterns, laying the foundation for future language acquisition. Your child isn’t speaking yet? It’s never too early to start singing to your child.

Music and Movement in Toddlers

As toddlers reach the ages of 1-3, music becomes an even more interactive and engaging experience. 

  • Building Motor Skills: Combining music with movement activities like dancing, marching, or playing instruments encourages toddlers to develop gross and fine motor skills. This early practice improves coordination, balance, and dexterity, preparing them for future physical activities and learning opportunities.
  • Sensory Integration: Music engages multiple senses. The rhythm, melody, and lyrics stimulate the auditory system, while dancing and playing instruments involve movement and touch. This sensory integration helps toddlers understand and process the world around them.
  • Developing Coordination: Playing simple instruments like drums, shakers,  tambourines, and other simple percussion instruments requires hand-eye coordination and a sense of rhythm. Not only could this experience lead to your child choosing to learn and play an instrument later in life, but these skills are crucial for future learning activities, including writing and drawing.

Need some inspiration? Revisit some of the simple nursery rhymes from your childhood that make use of repetition, movement, language development, and more, like:

  1. Five Little Monkeys
  2. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
  3. Old MacDonald Had a Farm
  4. The Wheels on the Bus
  5. The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  6. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  7. The Ants Go Marching
  8. Little Bunny Foo Foo
  9. Where is Thumbkin?
  10. The Hokey Pokey
  11. Hickory, Dickory Dock
  12. Ring Around the Rosy
  13. If Your Happy and You Know It
  14. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  15. Bingo
  16. ABC’s

Making Music Matter: Easy Music Activities for Toddlers

Here are some ways to incorporate music activities into your toddler's daily routine:

  • Sing Together: Make singing a part of your daily routine. Whether it's during bath time, playtime, or bedtime, singing exposes toddlers to new vocabulary, rhythms, and melodies.
  • Move and Groove: Turn on the music and encourage your toddler to move their body. Dance together, clap your hands, or march around the room. This promotes physical activity, coordination, and a sense of rhythm.
  • Explore Instruments: Provide your toddler with age-appropriate instruments like drums, shakers, or even pots and pans. Allow them to explore the sounds they can create, fostering their creativity and musical exploration.
  • Attend Music Classes: Consider enrolling your toddler in a music class designed for their age group and led by a professional. These classes will provide a structured learning environment where they can interact with other children and explore music in a fun and engaging way. You may also find a class that is structured for caregivers and small children, enhancing the bond that you have with your child in a different way.

Music is more than just entertainment; it's a powerful tool for nurturing your toddler's development. By incorporating music into your daily routines, you can create a rich and stimulating environment that fosters cognitive, emotional, and social growth, ultimately paving the way for them to thrive in school. 

So, turn up the music, open the curtains to a world of possibilities, and watch your little maestro blossom!

Want more guidance on involving music in your little one’s day? Use Happy Little People Co. activity cards for ideas, which include musical activities in each deck from birth to 5 years old.

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