Music Matters - The Importance of Music in your Preschooler’s Life
8 November 2017
Music is one of our greatest inheritances as human beings. So global is the experience of music that it is often called the universal language of humankind. Music is central to the experience of children, just as it is to adults. It’s especially important for children from infancy because children sing to communicate thoughts and feelings. For this reason alone, music must be included in your preschooler’s life. Hearing different sounds, words, how things rhyme in music all are essential language learnings that will be used later in learning to read. Music will be also be an avenue for your child's mathematical learning in elementary school.
I still remember my daughter, Claire chanting songs, especially the one when she chanted, “I’m going to put my mother on the garbage pile” when she was put in time out. As a preschool teacher, it wasn’t unusual to hear children singing to themselves in a sing-song way while playing or drawing with crayons. “One purple, two purple, three purple, four purple.” Sometimes I would hear a child humming a fast-food jingle while keeping time with his coloring strokes. And it wasn’t unusual to hear three’s and four’s singing popular songs word for word.
Take a moment to observe your own little one listening to music. Do they grow silent and intent when they hear new or unusual sounds? Or become quiet and relaxed when they hear soothing sounds? Watch as they move their bodies in concert with the sounds they hear, even if we adults consider it “music” or not.
Musical experiences like these are a common occurrence in a young child’s life. Children love the sound of their own voices, and chanting is the way they experiment with sound and rhythm. In music terminology, chants are half-speaking, half-singing sounds that often accompany children’s play. Making up original chants or songs and moving rhythmically to musical beats are quite natural to a young child. Because of this, music is often a favorite and delightful avenue for preschoolers’ creative expression.
To plan music experiences that are just right for your preschooler’s development, you don’t have to be able to read or play a musical instrument. Just think of music as an experience to be shared, rather than something to be taught. And keep in mind these 7 every day ways to include music experiences in your preschooler’s life:
- Provide musical experiences in a variety of ways. Enjoy musical activities together such as singing along with recorded songs, playing simple instruments like these bells, a xylophone, and rhythm sticks, all found on Amazon. During holidays, share with your little one the special music that is part of the holiday celebration. You can also add your favorite tunes to our large motor skills activities like Spongy Walkers and Line Challenges and see what happens.
- Chose music with an easy-to-hear rhythm. Play your favorite country music, rock, hip hop, or anything that gets your toes tapping. Your young one will respond instinctively to the beat of music with rhythmic movement. They’ll also create their own original, musical movements like swinging, tapping, and even rocking in a chair to music. Encourage your child to clap, bounce and dance to the music. If your little one is slow to start, begin moving yourself and show him how easy and fun it is to get grooving.
- Expose your preschooler to a variety of types of music. Be sure to expose your preschooler to music from a variety of cultures, languages, and backgrounds. Include lullabies, classical music, children’s songs, and include some of your favorite music as well. You don’t have to buy special music, but can simply listen to what's on the radio or stream it online.
- Encourage your little one to make his or her own music with everyday things. Give her a different size spoons to bang on on a pot. She can knock her blocks together if the music moves her. You can make up clapping patterns and let your little one repeat them. Then reverse the game and see if you can repeat your preschooler’s clap patterns. Encourage your preschooler as she makes sounds with the music and to use her own voice to mimic the sounds of instruments or vocals. Or you could try our Moving Marble Prints to hear the melodies that they make. This is all a way of expressing your child's creativity with sound and different materials.
- Make music part of your daily life. Sing when you are doing routine tasks, like running errands and cooking. Remember that making up the words is fine. “I’m stirring the soup, I’m stirring the soup, all the day long.” Your little one will pick up on your language, the joyful atmosphere you are creating, and will join you with their spontaneous compositions.
- Talk about the music you hear. You can encourage your little one’s musical development by talking about the sounds they hear on their walks outside-- if they are loud sounds or soft, if they are near or far away. Differentiating sounds, or learning to recognize the many ways that sounds can be heard, is basic, beginning music learning for very young children. Our Skilly-do activity, Everything Music, is perfect for encouraging this music experience as well as listening with your young ones.
- Spice up familiar songs. To add some extra spice to your preschooler’s music experience, act out movements with gestures or props. Choose songs that are usually well known to your preschooler, like the American standards, The Itsy Bitsy Spider or I’m A Little Teapot here on YouTube. It’s super fun to act out these song’s animals, sounds, shapes and actions with hand and body movements. Add real or imaginary costumes to really get the musical drama going!
The early preschool years are definitely enriched when there is music in it. Music experiences provide your little one more ways to be creative, move rhythmically, and express themselves in new, creative ways. Young children are more open to all types of music from classic to country. It is what they hear the most that becomes what they like and value the most. So, take advantage of this openness to musical diversity by providing music experiences with a wide range of styles, types, periods, and cultural music experiences. Your preschooler’s life will be positively richer for it.
For even more ideas on preschool music experiences, check out our blog, Learning Anywhere, Every Day - Musical Play. Got tips for more musical fun you have with your little one? Let us know!