The Senses - By Robyn Grose
For babies and young children the world is a magical mix of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touchables! Unlike most adults, children feel first and think later, and that’s a beautiful thing! So how can you help your child (and yourself!) enjoy an even richer sensory experience?
For very young children, music has power and meaning that go beyond words. First and most important, sharing music with young children is simply one more way to give and receive love. Music and musical experiences also support the formation of important brain connections that are being established over the first few years of life. Music promotes growth in the various developmental domains of sensory, social-emotional, motor skills, language and literacy. Mini Maestros' thoughtfully planned musical experiences can support and nurture children’s early learning.
At a young age, individual sounds can be difficult to distinguish. A child’s world is a sea of voices, noises, vibrations and tones. At Mini Maestros we always play listening games! Whether it be, “Can you hear a dog barking?" or “Is that music loud or soft?”, exposing children to different sounds and music is exercising their auditory muscles and boosting listening skills. Hearing music change form is another important aspect. A baby will respond best to high-pitched voices and animated faces. Well, that’s us as Mini Maestros teachers! They will also be calm when we sing a soft soothing lullaby.
Singing about feelings helps babies and toddlers learn the words to describe their emotional experiences. A well-known example of this is the song, 'If You’re Happy and You Know It'. The fact is that music evokes feelings, even when there are no words. Young children develop a sense that they are smart and competent when they can make an impact on their world. It’s wonderful to see the huge grins on their faces when they can hear the sound they can make with their maracas or claves!
When people think about music, dancing is one of the first activities that come to mind. Moving to fast and slow music, being held and rocked to a lullaby, jumping like a kangaroo or plodding like an elephant are all helping motor skills and creativity. We also work on fine motor skills development. Finger plays and action songs such as ‘Where Is Thumbkin' or 'Open Shut Them' are perfect examples of musical activities that help develop motor skills. Body awareness is a very important part of a young child’s development. Moving different parts of a baby’s body and encouraging toddlers to move their own bodies as you sing a song, for example, 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes', helps them learn that these body parts do indeed, belong to them!
Musical experiences promote attachment and a safe learning environment as well as encouraging movement. A child’s brain is built for movement and essential brain connections are put in place through movement. Children who experience varied movements, supporting both good gross and fine motor skills, will have a strong sense of esteem. Musical activities that encourage jumping, hopping, rolling, twirling and for babies rocking, swaying, swinging and bouncing to music will contribute to this outcome.
In summary, at Mini Maestros we believe that music plays a powerful role in the lives of young children. Through music, babies and toddlers can come to better understand themselves and their feelings and, through their senses, discover the world around them. Most importantly, sharing musical experiences with the people they love makes young children feel cherished and important. Using musical activities to enrich the lives of babies and toddlers is PRICELESS!
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