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As an early childhood educator I have a keen understanding of how music education can be beneficial for young children. In fact, I can personally attest to its benefits in my preschool classroom for children with multiple disabilities. For example, many of my students are classified as having speech or language delays, but you wouldn’t know it during musical activities. This is because music is a universal language. So, in this post, I’ll be sharing various examples of how music and movement promote development in preschoolers. I’ll also provide simple ways you can encourage music development at home.
What Does The Research Say?
Did you know that music can positively impact a person’s development starting in infancy? A recent study examined the impacts of singing on babies and “found that singing—more than talking—keeps babies calm and can lead to stronger social bonds with parents, improved health, and even greater language fluency.”
Additionally, exposure to music education throughout childhood can help to enhance other skills. According to PBS.org, “learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas.”
With that said, music, dancing, and singing are intertwined into almost all aspects of my preschool classroom curriculum and daily routines. In fact, creative and visual arts are part of the New Jersey Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards which state that children will “express themselves through and develop an appreciation for” both music and creative movement and dance. Therefore, here are a few examples of how music and movement is incorporated throughout the day in my classroom:
- Children participate in structured and unstructured music and movement activities–this includes experiences with song and musical instruments. This occurs daily during various periods of the day such as free-choice centers, circle time, recess, etc.
- We sing songs when we welcome each other into the classroom each day as well as when we say goodbye.
- Rhymes, songs, chants, and finger-plays are used to tell stories and teach academic and social-emotional content.
- Songs are used to help guide children through transitions to new activities or tasks (like clean-up, snack time, washing hands, etc.)
So How Does Music and Movement Promote Development in Preschool?
Music and singing helps children to develop communication skills, ways of expressing themselves, and builds their vocabulary. Preschoolers are able to learn new words through memorization which is brought on by the repetitive lyrics, patterns, and rhythms of music.
2. Gross Motor Skills
Movement and dancing helps children engage in gross-motor development. For example, moving our bodies to music helps develop muscle tone, balance, and coordination.
3. Fine Motor Development
Handling musical instrument helps students with fine-motor development—strengthening the small muscles in their hands, fingers, and wrists. This in turn helps with writing and self-help skills like eating, dressing, and toileting.
4. Social-Emotional Learning
Music and dancing is a great social-emotional experience because children can sing, dance, perform, and engage together—no matter their age or level of development. In addition, children can be exposed to and learn about different backgrounds and cultures through music.
5. Listening Skills
When a child listens to music they are learning to decipher different sounds and where they come from. In addition, they are hearing the patterns of speech, sounds of words, various tones, and rhythms. This type of exercise is good practice for a child’s overall listening, auditory processing, and comprehension skills.
Ways You Can Promote Your Preschooler’s Development with Music And Movement at Home
Parents/caregivers will often ask me if I recommend enrolling a child in music or instrumental lessons. The answer is yes, absolutely. However, you can easily incorporate musical activities into your every day life at home in other ways too (especially if private music lessons are not an option for your family.) Here are a few simple ideas:
Add Music Play Into Their Daily Schedule
Add instruments or other musical toys into the play rotation and set aside a time of the day to play with those particular toys. Here are some of my favorites from Melissa & Doug. If you want a more cost-efficient option, try making your own instruments. (More ideas below!)
Get Crafty! Make Your Own Musical Instruments
Making your own instruments is a family-fun arts & crafts activity! Use empty containers with lids, like yogurt and sour cream tubs, to create a drum set. Fill empty bottles with uncooked rice to make shakers (I’d recommended adding some tape over the lid for a tight seal.) Finally, use sturdy paper plates and dry beans to make a tambourine.
Make Up Your Own Silly Songs and Lyrics
Create your own silly songs to sing during play or to help your children to complete daily tasks. For example, my husband and I sing a song “Brush, Brush, Brush your Teeth” (to the tune of “Row, Row, Row your Boat”) when our little one brushes his teeth. We sing, “brush, brush, brush your teeth, brush your teeth with me. Get rid of all the plaque and the little cavities.” It may seem silly at first, but he loves it and it makes the process go smoothly each morning and night. We also sing a song to the same tune when we’re playing with building blocks. “Stack, stack, stack the blocks, stack the blocks up tall. Stack, stack, stack the blocks, will they stand or fall?”
Have a Dance Party
Put on a fun playlist and shake it out. Play songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes” and correctly model the movements and have your child copy what you do. In addition, play “musical freeze” dance. This is a fun activity that practices your child’s listening skills and gives them the opportunity to follow directions.
Put on a Show
Get creative! You and your child can write and sing original songs, choreograph simple dance routines, or perform your all-time favorites. You can record your performances on your cell phone and watch them again later or share them with family and friends. Here are some of my favorite channels on YouTube that feature age-appropriate music and movement videos.
My Favorite YouTube Channels for Preschool Music & Movement
This channel belongs to one of my favorite children’s book publishers. They write wonderful stories, create beautiful videos, and have singalongs that are so incredibly catchy! Their channel states, “At Barefoot Books, we create award-winning books and gifts that celebrate diversity, spark curiosity and capture children’s imaginations. Our mission is to share stories, connect families and inspire children with our wide range of educational singalongs, folktales from around the world, #OwnVoices picture books and so much more.”
Super Simple Songs
This channel features classic nursery rhymes, original songs, and even children’s shows that are preschool appropriate. They channel states, “Learn and explore through song and movement with Super Simple Songs! Our team of educators has created some of the most popular children’s songs on YouTube to get up, move, and sing along with!”
I can always count on the Jack Hartmann channel to have songs that will get my students up and ready to move while also learning academic concepts. The channel states, “Our songs for kids and educational videos will help your children learn counting, numbers, reading and language skills, nursery rhymes, science, physical fitness, dance and movement. Children actively participate in all the learning with lots of movement and fun.”
Here Are Other Posts You May Enjoy:
- Why Social-Emotional Learning Matters: Especially in Preschool
- How to Deal with Challenging Behaviors in Preschool
- Stages of Emergent Writing In Preschool: What Stage is Your Little One In?
Now talk to me! How do you use music and movement in your home to promote development? Share your ideas and comments below.