I went with a friend to pick up her granddaughter at preschool and I overheard a parent talking on her cell phone and saying, “I couldn’t believe it, I walked into the daycare, and all they were doing was dancing!” I shook my head in disbelief, parents don’t realize how important music is in a young child’s life. Some experts believe, if a child isn’t exposed to music by the age of FIVE, they will be inept musically. The child that isn’t exposed to music at all, is “the child, who seems to have two left feet and can’t carry a beat”. In other words, they seem to trip over their own feet, while trying to dance or move to a beat. Your child’s musical ability must be nurtured like any other skill they acquire.
As early childhood teachers we know that participation and/or moving to songs allows the children to work on many areas of their development, but two that stand out the most are cognitive and physical. Their cognitive development is enhanced when the child:
- Recalls words to song/chant/fingerplays
- Follows two step unrelated directions.
- Makes up words having similar sounds.
- Experiments with rhythm.
As the child moves he/she works on physical skills such as:
- Hops on one or both feet.
- Walks on tip-toes
- Shows balance in use of large muscles.
- Skips or gallops “fairly” well
- Shows creativity and imagination
Since we live on the east coast and winter time can be too cold to go outside, we often offer the kids music and movement activities. These are often guided activities to music: such as fly like a bird, or stretch like a giraffe. Other times we would just put on music for the children to dance to that offers them a variety of different beats (slow, fast, marching or funky). Jackie and I would let the kids put on various clothes from the dress up cabinet which included: dance costumes, feathered boas, fancy bow-ties, tap shoes, sparkly hats or anything that would encourage them to join in and have some fun and moving their body too.
Below, you will find articles that discuss the benefits of exposing your child to music at an early age. For anyone that believes, “all the children are doing is dancing”, I hope these articles will help you to realize they are doing so much more than just dancing.