Music and movement play a vital role in a child’s development and has numerous benefits. At an early age, children naturally love music and their love for music will, later on, have visible results. Music and movement activities have proved to create a significant improvement in children’s memory, cognitive development, learning skills as well as emotional expression. It also helps in gross and fine motor skills and balance and coordination.
Research has shown that music and movement have so many benefits for children of all ages. In this blog, we will discuss particular benefits of music and movement, their relevance in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), and provide examples of how childcare centres can implement them.
The benefits of childcare are countless as specific programs and activities have various effects on individual children. Musical experiences, for example, have been found to accelerate brain development specifically in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. However, improved language and reading skills are not the only benefits of music and movement. It ignites multiple areas of child development and even helps the mind and body to work together.
Allowing children to discover music and movement activities during early development helps them to strengthen learning and practice self-expression.
The benefits of music and movement in childcare
Music brings great pleasure but if that does not seem enough reason to include music and movement in childcare activities, enumerated below are specific benefits of music and movement in early childhood education.
Research shows that music shapes the brain through neural pathways. Music can help child development and can even raise their Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Musical activities involve so many brain areas because they involve vision, hearing, and movement. Sequences in music, such as words, rhythms, melodies, or even actions can help improve memory skills and make learning more lasting when children are involved. Other benefits to the brain include improved concentration and conceptual processes which can even affect decision-making abilities.
Self-expression and creativity are building blocks to becoming better communicators. We can build a child’s confidence and sense of pride when we encourage children to learn how to play an instrument, sing a song, or dance to a beat. This process of creative development will open doors for imagination learn. Children can learn to express and regulate themselves through music and movement in early childhood. The tempo of music helps set up a mood and children can express either calmness or high energy through music or by playing instruments. Dance or any movement will also allow children to respond differently when they cannot answer verbally.
Learning to play a musical instrument, memorise a song, or perfect a choreography requires patience and perseverance. These skills will be beneficial later on as children tackle more difficult challenges. Developing concentration as they focus on a particular activity will also help them focus their attention in the future.
Studies show that physical activity or movement activities, or brain breaks, benefit the learning process. It is also a good opportunity to help the brain process speed, focus attention and improve attention span. All these will help them solve problems later on.
Social skills and communication skills
There are constant sound cues in musical activities and children can learn to move to body positions to match the music. This builds focused listeners so kids are also able to listen more effectively through music. Music and movement activities also benefit language development. It helps with pronunciation and hearing words that repeat or rhyme helps in understanding language and concepts. Learning new words can also be a great reason to include music in your program.
A group activity that includes movement can help with cooperation and collaboration skills. Group social skills can be developed when children play and communicate messages with others. They can learn how to take turns, teamwork, trust, and respect for others which are all great life lessons and social skills. A group activity can be an avenue for kids who are timid to have positive social encounters and boost their self-confidence, making them feel part of the group.
Children can learn to coordinate their hands, feet, and body through songs that require movement or actions. Gathering children for opportunities to get active and encourage body movement will help with a child’s physical awareness, body control, hand eye coordination and balance.
Body position creativity will come out when songs with a beat encourage kids to walk, jump, hop, skip, crawl, stomp, or sway. These large motor skills are important in music and movement activities just as they will be when playing different sports. Music helps small motor skills and spatial awareness too. Finger play can be done with nursery rhymes or while sharing music.
Emotional development is important for children as they are still learning to understand the world and how to express themselves and regulate their own behaviour. Music and movement activities help release emotions and create a productive way to express feelings. A lively tune will motivate them to move while soothing music calms them. Slow tunes to wind down as it relaxes children.
Creativity and imagination
Music and dance movement benefit the creativity, curiosity, and imagination of preschool children. Imitating an animal or an inanimate object or pretending to do other actions improves a child’s imagination. Music and movement activities give children the opportunity to do so. Read more about why creativity is important for children.
When a movement represents actions for others, children grow their imagination by relating the action to something they are familiar with. Their creativity is sparked and their imagination is exercised.
Relevance of music and movement in EYLF
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) encourages an emphasis on planned or intentional aspects of a childcare program or curriculum. A creative curriculum that offers activities that have been designed to allow child development in the aspect of music and movement, will have direct links to EYLF Principles, Practice and Learning Outcomes of the EYLF.
Brain development through activities that will increase knowledge of musical skills and concepts explore growth as children engage regularly.
How childcare can implement music and movement activities
We know you’ll want to implement music and movement activities in your centre after knowing the benefits. To be able to give children the opportunity to listen to music, play instruments, experiment with sound and dance or move their bodies, you have to plan a space for them to learn. Setting up and organising the space for these activities will be critical before implementing a program. Be sure to have enough area for the children to move around, play instruments and sing their hearts out for either planned or spontaneous opportunities. Be sure to keep the noisy area away from the quiet corner to give the children freedom in music and movement activities without distracting others! You might want to read about the importance of creative development in early childhood.
Playing Musical Instruments
A variety of musical instruments should be available for children to play with. Playing musical instruments can also help show diversity in sound as well as culture. Some musical instruments represent music around the world and can be included in what you provide for the children. Some examples of instruments you can have are piano, guitar, ukelele, drums, xylophone, bells, whistle, maracas, rhythm sticks and rainsticks.
You don’t need to spend on actual instruments to create music or sounds. You can help kids explore sounds through everyday household items such as a can with beans or a box with rice or pasta. Containers can also be filled with beads, marbles or even sand to create variation. It can even be a great art project for decorating later on.
Toddlers engage better when there is a creative curriculum. Singing songs and nursery rhymes can even be done to learn about other cultures. Music increases the use of words and may sometimes require memorisation in early childhood.
Let the kids clap along with the music or tell them to change the words to the song. Make it fun by having an energetic cleanup process.
Whether choreographed or not, we can use dance for different musical activities. For special occasions or other special holidays, children can prepare a dance for their family and friends. Families can be invited to the centre to share the special number during Mothers Day, Fathers Day or others.
Find songs that have a purpose. You can use song cards and stick toppers to show the letters or images about the song. A few examples of songs you can use are:
- Counting songs
- ABC song
- Songs in other languages
Routine activities and transitions can be made smoother and more enjoyable by singing or chanting. Some examples of transition music include:
- Greeting everyone
- Packing away our toys
- Washing our hands
- Getting ready to eat
- Transitioning to other areas of the centre
- Getting ready to leave
Music and movement are more than just entertainment as they can have very positive effects on the development of a child. Children learn differently and exposing a child to various learning methods in early childhood will reap benefits. Most children naturally love music and allowing them this creative outlet is crucial in early childhood education.