We naturally all use music in a multitude of ways when working with young children, but have you ever stopped and considered all of the benefits? By doing so, you might just think of different ways of using music for different purposes.
Music is a great way of communicating – use it as a welcome song, encouraging children to say their name or share some news. There are many great ‘welcome songs’ that you can Google – use these to encourage children to interact with you, and with one another.
Music supports the development of early literacy skills - nursery rhymes have SO many benefits for young children. Not only do children love them – for many children, the first songs that they know really well are nursery rhymes, but nursery rhymes also have a massive positive impact on children’s development. They give children early exposure to language, rhyme and alliteration. These are all early literacy skills and, although it may not seem like it when you are singing these to an 18-month-old, they will all contribute to their reading, writing and language skills when they are older. If you look at Phase One of the Letters and Sounds document you will see that the activities rely heavily on music based activities that promote both speaking and listening.
Music develops language. Following on from the literacy skills I talked about above, language development in young children is key. As children grow and start school, they will need language not only to communicate their wants and needs (which is vitally important), but also to have words to write, to be able to show their understanding of shape, space and measure, to be able to show their understanding of the world, and, most importantly, to be able to express their emotions. These are just a few of the important reasons children benefit from learning as much language as possible at an early age. Through song, children use and learn new words that might not
Music can help boost confidence – Using music you are likely to get a child who prefers to sit and watch group activities to gradually join in, or you might be able to encourage a child that likes to join in with group singing to sing a song to the group. Whatever the child’s confidence level, there is room for progress as a child gradually relaxes into a musical activity. Children can join in on their own terms which will help them feel in control and less anxious. have otherwise come into their vocabulary. (Who would have thought children would have been singing about ‘fractals’ until Frozen’s “Let It Go” existed). If you are singing songs with unknown words, take the time to explain what these mean. Most children don’t know what a bobbin is when they sing “Wind The Bobbin Up” so take the time to tell them so that the song makes sense!
Music gets children moving! We all know that getting children physically active rather than allowing them to sit for too long is so important these days. Music is a great way to get children moving. You can help develop both their gross motor skills by taking part in action songs such as “Heads, shoulders, needs and toes” and by getting them to move to music like different animals. You can help them develop their fine motor skills by getting them to join in ‘dough disco’ – shaping and moulding a bit of playdough along to music. (There are some great YouTube videos of this to give you some ideas to get started.) I really recommend the “Sticky Kids” CDs for great songs to get children moving to (they also include some great calming songs as well).
Music can bridge the gap between school and home. If you have a particular child that is really struggling to separate from their parent or carer, try finding out what music they love listening to at home and have it playing ready for when they arrive. As adults we love to hear our favourite music, and so do children.
Music helps build awareness of different cultures. As we know, gathering evidence of wow observations for some areas of ‘Development Matters’ can be harder than others. Use music from different cultures to help children learn about different people and communities and it should provide you with some great evidence of their awareness of other cultures.
Music helps develop… musical skills! Giving children early experience to different sounds and rhythms cannot help but develop their music skills early on. The key here is to expose children to as many different types of music and musical instruments as possible so that they can quickly develop their preferences, and possibly talents!
The list could go on… These are just some of the benefits of using music in your setting and hopefully the list has given you some new ideas of how and when to use more. The most important thing though, is just to enjoy it! Children and adults alike tend to love music so make the most of this opportunity to bond with the children in your group and enjoy your time together.
About the author:
Gina Smith is an experienced teacher with experience of teaching in both mainstream and special education. She is the creator of ‘Create Visual Aids’ – a business that provides both homes and education settings with bespoke visual resources. Gina recognises the fact that no two children are the same and therefore individuals are likely to need different resources. Create Visual Aids is dedicated to making visual symbols exactly how the individual needs them.