Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it? I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
The catchy lyrics from one of Swedish mega group, Abba’s most popular songs could well be a metaphor for the important role that music plays in the healthy development of young children.
Music in all its forms can motivate young children to use their bodies and their minds, to think critically and get their imaginations working and researchers and educators have long recognised that having music as part of the curriculum in childcare and early learning environments brings significant benefits. These benefits include emotional regulation and better self-esteem as well as the development of cognitive and physical skills.
Let’s look at how incorporating music into play and activities in early education can positively influence a child's development.
How does music help with childhood development?
Following are five key areas where music can support the healthy development of young children:
Improves fine motor skills
Playing a musical instrument requires a degree of dexterity. Whether they’re banging on a pot with a spoon, tinkling on a keyboard, plucking at the strings of a guitar, striking a triangle or clapping cymbals, making music offers up many different opportunities for young children to hone their fine motor skills and improve their co-ordination.
Young children can also improve their gross motor skills when movement and music are combined. Jumping, dancing, clapping and marching to the rhythm or beat of music are just some of the ways that music helps develop their large motor skills.
Boosts communication and language skills
Language development and learning music both use the same part of the brain. When a young child is learning or singing a song, playing an instrument or even just listening to music, the synapses in the brain that are responsible for auditory processing, comprehension and communication get a workout.
A child also expands their vocabulary when learning new songs and talking about different instruments, plus they learn to retain that information as they repeat melodies and tunes.
Helps memory and concentration skills
As mentioned in the point above, music can help with memory retention and focus. It supports the development of a child’s ability to concentrate when they focus on learning new words, repeating a tune etc.
Improves self-esteem and self-confidence
Young children are naturally curious and they are continually exploring their surroundings to make sense of the world and their place in it. Self-esteem is a child’s sense of worth and it is important to help young people feel good about themselves so that they can try new things, face challenges and develop well.
Music opens up a world of opportunity for young children to feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement which can be extremely powerful in strengthening their self-belief and self-confidence. A young child working hard to learn a new song, learning to clap in unison or play an instrument will feel excited, proud and fulfilled when they see their efforts paying off.
Music is great for self-expression which is an important aspect of supporting young children to find their own identity.
Teaches young children about collaboration and teamwork
Even if toddlers are simply clapping along to a tune or learning simple words of a nursery rhyme, music is an excellent way for them to learn about working collaboratively to achieve a common goal. In addition to the concept of teamwork, music can also help children to develop listening skills, patience, resilience and empathy as they work together to create harmony.
Music can have a profound impact on young children
As young children - and even babies - experience music and start to explore it through their play, they make crucial discoveries about themselves, their world and how they fit into it. Music plays a key role in their cognitive, physical, social and emotional development and helps foster their creativity and their appreciation of music.
Music can be a powerful force for good in the lives of young children which is why you’ll find it is such a prominent daily feature in quality early learning schools and childcare centres.