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Why is music and movement important for toddlers and preschoolers?

Updated: Jan 18

Discover why music and movement is so beneficial for toddlers and preschoolers and how you can incorporate it into your week.

When it comes to young children, music and movement come together quite naturally. It’s not uncommon to see young children move to the beat or sing along to a nursery rhyme. The good news is, what initially seems like musical play, is a powerful tool that can build motor skills, develop social skills, and even support brain development.

So, what exactly is music and movement, and how can we help our toddlers and pre-schoolers to get the most benefit from it? We’ve summed up everything you need to know into this useful blog.

What is music and movement?

Music and movement activities allow children to use their bodies to explore music and musical concepts. Children are encouraged to use their bodies to respond to music, interpret music and make music. This could include activities such as stomping like an elephant to a piece of music with a loud beat, chanting, drumming, or movement songs that have accompanying actions.

These types of activities can be undertaken in a class environment or at home and are quite easy (and beneficial) to incorporate into your daily life.

What are the benefits of music and movement for children?

Long before a child can speak, they are communicating with their bodies. Adding movement to music supports the language development of even the youngest child. A simple song such as head, shoulders, knees, and toes can help a baby learn about their body parts, whereas a chant can help an older child learn about keeping the beat.

When conducted in a class environment, children are encouraged to develop their listening skills as they follow along with the instructions. Music-making with other children gives them the opportunity to practice sharing, listening and social skills, such as restraint when all the exciting instruments are brought out to share.

Holding onto ribbons or silks and playing instruments also helps develop fine motor skills. Dancing, jumping and songs with actions support the development of gross motor skills. The creative nature of music and movement classes means that children nurture their bodies and their brains at the same time.

Do I need to attend music classes?

Children naturally love music, but unless it’s nurtured, many adults develop a disconnect. Yes, we love listening to the radio and singing our favourite tune in the privacy of our car, but when it comes to leading musical play with our little ones, we can feel a little awkward.

Music classes can help build our confidence to undertake music and movement activities with our children and grandchildren. They are a great source of inspiration, encouragement, and fun. It’s much easier to repeat an activity that you’ve learnt in class than to search Google for inspiration. That said, music and movement is not limited to those who can make it to a class. And even those who attend classes can reap the benefits of incorporating musical activities into their week.

Easy music and movement activities you can do at home

Here are some of our favourite musical activities that incorporate music and why we love them:

  • Simon says – Pop some music on and play Simon Says like you’d play a game of musical freeze. This game supports listening, gross motor skills and language development.

  • Marching to a beat – Find a piece of rhythmic music and march to the beat. This can be on the spot or moving around the house. We love this one when it’s time to pack up or leave the park. Pop the marching music on and watch as your little ones fall into line behind the leader.

  • Dancing animals – Ask your child to pick an animal and how that animal would dance if they were able. Pop on a song and see what they come up with. This activity engages your child’s creativity and gross motor skills.

  • Open shut them – This classic song is perfect for developing little hands and builds language skills with its repetitive lyrics. 

  • Percussion fun – Bells, drums and shakers are lots of fun ways to explore percussion. You can use instruments or make your own with items around the house. Even young babies enjoy making sounds with wrist shakers, and instruments with handles are easy for younger children to hold. Play along to a song or make your own. We love how open-ended this activity is.

Once you start incorporating music and movement into your week, you’ll soon gain confidence and the opportunity to connect with your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do music and movement activities improve gross motor skills?

Toddlers and preschool-aged children benefit from activities that allow them to practice a skill repetitively and activities that encourage them to move their bodies in new ways. Moving to music encourages children to practise gross motor skills such as jumping, skipping, and walking. Making a game of movement means that children can explore new ways of moving their bodies and build strength and coordination as they do so.

Why is movement important in music?

Research shows that when you move your body, you boost your ability to remember, recall and understand. When children move to music, it engages more parts of their brains than if they were to remain still. Repetitive movement and singing also aid language development and allow young children to remain engaged with music for longer periods of time.

Is music developmentally beneficial for toddlers and pre-schoolers?

Yes, research shows that music has many developmental benefits for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Children who partake in music and movement activities regularly will benefit both physically and cognitively. Plus, it’s also a lot of fun and a great chance for bonding.

Interested In Joining A Class?

At the Music Space, we run a research-based program called Music Together®. Our program is the perfect early childhood activity for families with children between 0 and 5.

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