WHY IS MUSIC IMPORTANT FOR KIDS – PREPARING THEM FOR SCHOOL
Amongst the endless options available for keeping our young kids educated and entertained, why is music important for kids? As well as being good for children’s social, emotional and physical wellbeing, music lessons are perfect for getting your child ready for school.
Every parent wants their child to love going to school. For the child to feel this way they need to have a fun, happy and satisfying experience. But if they’re not ready for school, or don’t have the basic skills to cope with the school environment, their experience might not be as positive as you would hope.
Any teacher (and most parents) will tell you that a love of school is the result of the child having a sufficiently developed attention span that lets them concentrate on their tasks and experience a level of success (both socially and cognitively) in the early stages of their first year.
How music lessons are important to prepare for school?
Music activities require focused attention and performing multiple tasks
According to Dr Anita Collins, “well structured and sequential music activities at this early childhood level are basically boot camp for the development of any 4 year old’s attention skills.”
Music activities require hyper-attention across a number of senses. A three minute activity may involve reproducing a beat on a xylophone while singing the lyrics, then changing to play a second instrument. They might also swish a scarf during the interlude, all within a group setting and creating within a theme (for example a favourite animal). An activity of this kind needs them to follow instructions and perform a number of different tasks. Repeated practice of these multi-skilled activities is the perfect preparation for focusing in structured classrooms.
Mastering musical skills indicates that your child’s brain is ready
“Being able to keep a steady beat is an indicator that learning to read is ready to happen in the brain,” says Dr Collins.
Research has shown that a child’s brain needs to have a level of synchronization to timing cues in order to learn to speak and, ultimately, to read. Children that can keep a beat have higher level of neural synchronization and in turn have higher levels of pre-reading skills.
For children in the pre-school age range this is such an important insight. Having your child practice keeping a beat repeatedly (eg drumming, stomping, patting on knees) is an easy and useful way to prepare your child for reading.
Distinguishing sounds is a basic building block to learning to read
To learn to read, the child needs to hear sounds correctly, be able to speak the sound and then read the sound. This auditory processing of speech is exercised regularly through musical activities.
Music lessons help kids learn to work and learn in a group environment.
Children who have participated in music classes have practiced inhibitory control, that is the ability to wait their turn. Through being in small group classes or small ensembles, they have learned to control their responses and self-regulate impulses – all valuable skills to help them experience successful social relationships and learning experiences at school.
While we want the children to enjoy the expressive element of music making, building essential skills such as concentration, auditory processing, inhibitory control and beat entrainment will set them up to ‘hit the ground running ‘ in school. It will give them the best chance of experiencing personal success early that will feed their self motivation to enjoy attending and learn productively.