Music Makes Kids Smarter!
When I was teaching baby music classes, we made sure that we did movement activities with even the smallest babies. Using the nursery rhyme, “Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John” we would move the baby’s legs in time with the rhythm of the rhyme. The child would just laugh and want more – we would do it slowly, or quickly, speaking in a high pitched voice, or a low one. While we were having fun, the educational piece was developing rhyming, rhythm, bilateral motion, vocal differentiation, and tempo. Some of those things are musical terms (it was a music class, after all), but all of them are things that apply to children’s learning.
At all age levels we add in things like scarves and hand percussion instruments to help put a feeling of the beat into the children’s body. At a very young age, the child feels music through their entire body.
As the children grew older, we would give them rhythm sticks which we would use to keep the beat of the music we were listening to. The educational components of that activity were many –
Listening to good music
Selective listening skills
Keeping a beat
Practicing bilateral motion (see article)
Crossing the midline
Following non-verbal directions
“Rhythm is an integral part of both music and language,” Kraus says. “And the rhythm of spoken language is a crucial cue to understanding.” – See more: in this article.
One of the important aspects in learning to read, is for a child to be able to cross the midline. The ability for crossing the vertical midline begins at a young age. This is when we are able to cross our body to use our right hand on our left side or vice versa. Very young children use the hand that is closest to the object, rather than crossing the midline. Sometimes they will even move their whole body to avoid crossing the midline. If the child never is able to cross the midline, they will have a difficult time reading as their eyes will stop when they get to the middle of the page, rather than reading all the way across.
PSA values the importance of outside play, movement, and musical activities in the educational curriculum across all ages.