The power of music is not to be under-estimated and for babies and toddlers, as well as older children, there’s a lot to be gained through interacting with music.
Music has always been a part of a child’s early learning experience. Parents, for example, have traditionally sung nursery rhymes to their babies and toddlers, put musical boxes in the nursery to play simple tunes as a baby settles down or sung gentle songs to soothe a restless baby. Music becomes a part of life for many of us as we grow up and life would be really dull if we didn’t have music at all. For babies and toddlers music can play a powerful part in their early learning experience.
Babies can be introduced to music from a very young age – even from before they’re born, as they can hear music being played when they’re still in the womb. Simple songs and rhythms play an important role in enhancing the mood. When a baby is feeling irritable or upset, soothing songs can help calm their mood and make them feel relaxed and comforted.
Music is also linked to the development of language skills too. Nursery rhymes typically involve simple, rhyming words and, as children listen to them and gradually remember them, they’re able to build up word association skills and learn individual words.
Hearing a nursery rhyme on a regular basis will help your child’s listening skills too. Getting them involved is great, so if you’re singing nursery rhymes to your child, try and encourage them to join in with the words and actions, if they can.
Music can be very enjoyable in many ways for a child. It can help them learn about different emotions – through happy music and sad music – learn about their body awareness through dancing and moving to the rhythm and, in some cases, gain an understanding of their culture and the music traditions around them. All in all, music should be something to be enjoyed and encouraged, throughout a child’s life. As they grow older, it’s a good form of escapism and can help them deal with any stress they’re experiencing.
The Mozart Effect
In addition, there are also many people who believe that playing classical music to babies could well stimulate the brain and aid educational and emotional development. Commonly known as the Mozart Effect, as babies seem to respond well to the sounds of Mozart, as well as other classical composers, the theory is that playing music to babies – both when they’re still in the womb and in the early years – helps to build the neural bridges in the brain. These neural bridges are important for helping thoughts and information travel.
Experts suggest that, as well as boosting the IQ of babies who listened to music such as Mozart, it could also help develop spatial reasoning skills and even help retrain the ear to hear better. You can help try out this method by listening to Mozart or any other classical music with your baby, or whilst your baby is still growing and developing in the womb. There are various CDs produced to specifically aid this task, or you could listen to classical music on the radio or pick out your favourite composer.