Importance of Music & Movement in the Education of Young Children
Sep 1, 2011 | By Meg Brannagan
Many people, when considering early childhood education, think about important concepts to learn, such as the alphabet, counting and shapes.Additionally, many parents want their children to experience some social interaction while learning ideas that will prepare them for school. Although music and dance is often considered an optional component of an educational program, incorporating music and movement into early childhood education can have may benefits, such as development, social interaction and language growth.
Early childhood education is the beginning of instruction for children at home or in the preschool years. This is an important time of learning and brain development for children in preparation for going to school. According to the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association, 85 percent of brain development occurs by the time a child reaches 3 years. Playing music and moving to a beat provides stimulating experiences for young children and fosters learning at home or in the classroom. Parents and early childhood teachers can incorporate music and movement into daily routines.
As children grow, they need to learn specific activities that are important for development. For example, very young children begin to scoot and crawl for movement and while these activities are part of eventually learning to walk, they are also essential for brain development. Additionally, patterned activities at home or in the preschool classroom, such as clapping to music or jumping in time to a beat stimulate brain function and help the brain to organize thoughts and behaviors.
Language has its own tempo; speaking a language fluently involves regular pauses, stops and starts in appropriate places. For example, most people do not speak in a constant, running diatribe of words; rather they insert pauses between phrases, they use accents and they increase or decrease the overall speed of speech. Music has a tempo and teaching young children songs that have rhythms and beats or learning to march in time to a tune can help students to learn the rhythm of speaking.
Several different types of music and movement activities can be incorporated into early childhood education. Teaching songs, such as the “ABCs” or “If You’re Happy and You Know It” while clapping or tapping along can teach rhythm and cadence while learning new words. Songs that involve action and hand gestures that follow the music teach children not only the meaning of some new words, but also to move and sing at the same time. Other types of activities for use in the classroom could be dancing with streamers or scarves, playing small musical instruments, singing songs in rounds, singing while cleaning up, marching to the beat or imitating animals.