Babies love music. Their eyes brighten up, and their little hands clap, especially when Mommy’s the one who’s singing!
But how do you develop this natural love for music as they grow older, especially since those songs aren’t just an entertaining diversion? Research shows that rhythm and melody can develop imagination, memory, language skills and even reasoning (because they stimulate the same part of the brain used for math). Here’s an age-by-age guide.
Music can soothe your baby, make him feel safe, and even is a great way to communicate with him. And it’s so easy to do, at this age! Just sing, even if it’s off key. Your voice is his favorite sound in the world. (Bonding tip: keep eye contact as you sing, it adds to the emotional connection.)
You can also develop your baby’s ear for music by matching the pitch of his voice, in an exaggerated musical way. That will help him mimic your own melodic efforts.
Develop rhythm with drums, rattles and other musical toys. Or improvise: bang a spoon against his high chair (he’ll happily follow suit). Dancing, swaying, and stepping around are also fun!
Songs are one of the best ways to teach your child vocabulary (teach body parts with ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’). Others get her to cooperate (sing ‘Clean up’ as you put the toys away). Dancing games like ‘Hokey Pokey’ teach coordination. So you see, you have wide repertoire of songs at your disposal, easy to incorporate into your every day routine!
Enhance your child’s music ability with musical instruments (from real maracas to your old kitchen pots and spoons). By age two, your child will also be ready for memory building songs like ‘Old Macdonald’ and ‘Bingo’—the repetitive phrases build cognitive skills and encourage her to join in. And, once in a while, pretend to forget the lyrics. ‘Row, row, row your car…’ Your child will find this funny and will get to correct you!
You can also explore musical playgroups or classes that teach songs and also encourage your toddler to dance and move, which is crucial for developing gross motor skills and coordination.
Your child is ready to start making music of his own! You can enroll him in a class (read our tips on how to encourage kids to play a musical instrument), but there also other things you can do at home. Play a piece of classical music and ask him to draw a picture that reflects the mood: does the song remind him of a big elephant marching in a jungle, or a bird flying? And, as always, play lots of music at home—and make it even more special by bringing out the videocamera and taping him as he dances or sings. He’ll love to see himself on your TV, just like the rockstars!
He may already have his favorite bands, but do expose your child to different kinds of music to develop his ‘ear’ and to broaden his tastes. He might like to hear the tribal music of Africa, the distinct rhythm of Indian Bollywood, or the jitterbug that grandma and grandpa used to dance to when they were younger.
Photo from www.guitarsforrockstars.com