Kids instinctively love music, whether it's nursery rhymes, pop music, lift music or classical they do tend to stop and listen when they hear music being played.
All children, it seems, also like to make loud noises. Whether it's shouting, singing, blowing a trumpet, or just banging around they love to be heard. But what are the benefits of introducing music to children from a young age?
Why instruments are good for children
- Hand eye co-ordination. To hold a spoon and bang a saucepan lid takes aim, and action to make the noise happen effectively.
- Singing and learning new songs is good for children as it helps them learn new words and announciate words properly that they already know.
- Singing may also improve their understanding of words and encourage them to branch out with their vocabulary.
- Listening is greatly helped by music. Getting children to listen to the sounds of the music, beat out a rhythm and imitate the noise they hear is good for their listening skills and can even benefit their mathematical skills.
- Even if you can't sing or play an instrument, you can encourage your child to enjoy music. Play them lots of different types of music and listen to them together.
- Have a dance and try to hear whether the music is fast or slow. Good exercise!
- The children don't care if you can sing or not... as far as they are concerned you are playing and interacting with them so they are happy, so don't be discouraged if you don't sing pitch perfect! And, if they see you having a go... they will too!
- Make your own instruments by putting beans or pasta or lentils in a bottle to make a shaker or banging some tins with a wooden spoon.
- Do clapping and slapping games. Clap a few times and see if your child can copy. Then clap a rhythm and see if they can copy.
- Sing songs and nursery rhymes together. Sing loudly, softly, fast and slow.
- Try making music with your own body... slap (gently!) your cheek with a finger, or clap your thigh, flick and click your fingers, clap hands together.
- Do action songs... I'm A Little Teapot, Row Row etc.
There's nothing more heartwarming than watching your children perform Christmas songs to the rest of your family at Christmas! If they are old enough to talk and in a playgroup then it's likely that they've already learned at least one or two festive songs that youcan encourage them to perform to grandparents over Christmas. If they aren't yet singing, then put on some festive music and encourage them to wiggle in time with the music!
Ask older children to act out the nativity story, playing the different parts. Acting forms a fundamental part of pretend play that is so important in developmental terms.
You will be proud, the grandparents will be moved and your little ones will be delighted! Practice a few songs or stories now so that they're ready for the big day, and have them bring the house down for their Christmas debut!
Whether a Grandparent or Aunty, or even a parent, babysitting a new born baby can be boring! Here are a few tips to make it fun for both of you!
- Cuddle up with a good book: It could be a kiddie book and you can read in a nice, quiet voice to the little bundle and enjoy a nice cuddle. It could be your own novel! Try reading aloud and seeing how happy baby is just to be warm and safe and listening to your voice.
- Watch TV together and chat about what you see. They will love the moving pictures, the sound and comfort of your voice and the attention! A little bit of television is fine!
- Have a gentle massage. Lie them down safely and tickle their toes, stroke their hands and gently give a massage.
- Count fingers and toes and get their hands moving. Sing Round And Round the Garden and watch their delight!
- Have a sing: singing, and music, are a great comfort to a baby. Listen to all sorts of music together, it needn't just be soft, baby music - as longs as it's not too loud.
- Get down on the floor and encourage crawling or playing depending on the age. They will love the attention and to have someone new spending time with them.
- Carry on as usual: you can still get on with your regular tasks and jobs when babysitting. If you make sure the baby is safe, you can leave their side. Perhaps chatter as you do things and talk through what you are doing.
- Go for a stroll: it's nice to get some fresh air even in winter, so wrap up baby and go for a walk whenever you can to get you out. As long as baby is warm you will be fine!
- Have a nap: babies do get tired, so if you think they are getting sleepy, put them down for a nap. Watching them when they sleep is just magical!
Toddlers enjoy actively listening to music; who knows, forging a healthy interest may nurture the pop stars of the future! From an early age toddlers will enjoy banging or rattling along to music. Give them a wooden spoon and a saucepan, or make a rattle out of a tube! Tape a double layer of greaseproof paper over one end of a toilet or kitchen roll tube, pour in some dry lentils or pasta, and seal the other end with greaseproof paper too. Watch and listen to your toddlers make noise along with a song they know - they'll quickly pick up surprisingly good tempo and rhythm!
Singing with Toddlers is also a lot of fun and imparts a wide range of benefit. Many children's songs teach counting and the ABC song helps to teach the alphabet. All songs simply help to grow memory and creativity as children absorb and learn them very quickly. You'll find that they can sing a song and make it sound pretty accurate even before they can speak or understand the words! As their vocabulary and understanding grows, so the words fall into place. You too can make up new verses to simple rhymes - make up songs about your child and include their name and you'll quickly have them in uncontrollable laughter!
You'll probably find toddler music groups in your local area. These are not aimed at teaching musical instruments but an introduction to sound and movement. Toddler music groups are a lot of fun - if you don't have one locally, why not start one and introduce simple movement and banging and rattling improvised percussion?