The Importance of Preschoolers and Music
William Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on.” While I can’t say for certain that I’ve ever cut up an actual slice of Humble Pie, I can say that music in any form has power. As a parent of a preschooler, I would bet that you’ve had to put the Rolling Stones away and form close, though mostly awkward connections with the following people: the Wiggles, Raffi, Lauri Berkner, Ralph Covert, and They Might Be Giants (though to be fair I listened to my fair share of ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’ prior to birthing my own tiny human). If you haven’t formed close kinships with these five musicians then you’re either a) lying, or b) missing out. If you don’t believe me, then try sitting down your fussy preschooler while the Wiggles belt out their hit tune, “Hot Potato, Hot Potato” and I guarantee you’ll be a fellow Wiggler for life.
Music and Preschool Development
The good news? Music has the ability to force a preschooler into a complete state of awe in lieu of throwing a tantrum. The great news? Music, aside from creating slightly comatose children, actually has many valuable properties for the developing preschooler. The strongest argument in favor of music is that it has an uncanny ability to strengthen the neural pathways within your growing preschooler’s brain. Research shows that by exposing your preschooler to music early and often they will:
- Have better cognitive abilities in school, particularly in reading and math
- Learn to have more focus and control over their bodies
- Play better with others and have a higher sense of self esteem
Making Music-Time, Learning-Time
While you probably have spent countless hours dancing with your preschooler to get some of their energy out, consider these tricks for making music-time a learning time as well.
- Encourage your child to keep pace to the music, clap or tap your hands in time to the beat, having them follow your lead.
- Use props: items such as scarves can be used to show slow and fast pitches, cones can be used for leaping or jumping over, and hula-hoops can be used for
- non-locomotor and locomotor exercises.
- Allow your preschooler to play an instrument. Settle down, I’m not suggesting that you bring out the electric guitar and amps right away, but try using a home made tambourine or even an upside down oatmeal container for drums. Be imaginative and embrace your child’s creativity.
- Always be willing to let your kids be musical. Sing along to music in the car or during chores. Make time at home after school for your child to pick and listen to their favorite song. Keep music-time open to any time and your child’s neural pathways will be getting the workout they deserve.
- Make sure your child’s preschool has dance in the classroom. Preschools are designed to have your child’s cognitive development and preparation for kindergarten in mind, for this reason most preschools have a dance or music time in their classrooms. If they don’t, then don’t fret! Head to your computer and check out preschool music classes in your local area and try enrolling your preschooler as an after school activity.
- Finally, if you’re able, try taking your little preschooler to a music performance designed for preschoolers. The Wiggles are one preschool band, of many, that tour the U.S. giving your child the experience of live music to their favorite songs and characters.
Music time with the kids doesn’t have to be all about getting them to settle down, and listen quietly to their favorite songs. On the contrary, music-time, when done right, reinforces your child’s learning, preparing them for their school years. At the very least music time with your child will be a memory that you hold dearly to, right up to that moment when you’re dancing at your son’s or daughter’s wedding. So go ahead, take a bow, and get up on that stage, sing along and shake your groovy thing.