Hello everyone, welcome to our August newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community. This month we will focus on the role music can play in aiding young children’s development.
Topic of the month - The benefits of music for little ears
Hearing is one of the first senses babies are able to develop. Research shows that babies start beginning to hear sounds from the outside world at around 18 weeks of age. That’s how early babies in their mothers’ wombs are able to experience the world outside of their cosy cocoon. This is why expecting parents are advised to constantly talk, sing, and vocalise whatever it is they want their babies to learn, even while still pregnant.
Here are some functions that music serves in your child’s early development.
Parents and caregivers often resort to lullabies to calm babies and young children down and lull them to sleep. The soft, rhythmic sounds connect with babies and young children’s brainwaves, introducing a soothing pattern that decreases their arousal levels. This helps babies and young children wind down from a period of active play to a resting mode. As mothers sing their lullabies in a soothing pattern, these calming tones reverberate to babies and helps lower their physiological and behavioural states.
Music through lullabies help parent and child connect. For example, a 2018 study showed that mother and child arousal levels match both when in a playful active session and a soothing sleepy winding down session. As a mother sings to her baby, it showed that the baby matched his/her physiological and behaviour changes with their mother.
Researchers also found out in a separate study that toddlers were more helpful to adult strangers whom they’ve bounced with synchronously. Music, with its rhythmic patterns, help babies and toddlers connect with their families, caregivers, and strangers easier despite their still limited communication skills.
Turning to music to keep the things babies and young children hear interesting can aid a lot in helping babies and young children learn faster. The rhythm and rhyme in children's songs, along with the repetitive beat helps them commit to memory new abstract concepts and ideas like their ABC’s and 123’s.
Teaching music to young children also helps their highly malleable brains to develop in areas focused on listening, practising, and playing. It also helps early childhood educators introduce new routines, practices, and concepts in a way that is easier for young children to familiarise with. Whether it’s practising table manners or proper hygiene to memorising numbers and letters, music certainly helps bridge the gap and quickens the learning pace for young children.
A landmark study by University of Kansas researchers Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley in 2003 first introduced the 30-Million Word Gap between underprivileged children and their peers from high-income families.
In numbers, a child in welfare is estimated to hear about 616 words per hour compared to their peers born in higher-income households who hear about 2153 words per hour. Early childhood educators and parents can help augment their child’s early vocabulary development through songs, music, and discussions about the things they hear and sing.
Another study also found that babies’ brain areas responsible for speech and music look different.
Children get exposed to patterns and words that they may not necessarily encounter in daily conversations, thereby widening their vocabulary. This helps them express more, play and connect with their peers and the outside world.
How to Incorporate Music in Everyday Life
Making music a part of everyday life and learning for children needs to be a habit for parents and educators. Make it easier and more fun for young children to learn, develop and grow by practising these habits.
Sing personalised lullabies to your babies.
Play children’s songs while they are playing to keep them company.
Play music wherever you go–in their room, the car, the train.
Choose stories and storybooks with accompanying music.
Turn everyday objects into musical instruments. Let them exercise their creativity by letting them use everyday household items like pots and pans to pails and cups.
Use songs to energise the class or bring back their attention to the group.
Have songs for routine activities like washing hands, greetings, dressing, and meals.
Consider using songs or background music while doing storytelling.
Have musical instruments for toys to encourage children to create music on their own.
Choose storybooks with built-in sounds or music.
Musical Apps for Young Children
Whether it’s a source for new lullabies you can sing to your child or upbeat songs that can help your little one learn during active play, there are a ton of musical apps you can rely upon to use music in aiding your child’s development.
Featuring animated videos of popular children’s songs like Baa Baa Black Sheep and Old MacDonald, Baby Karaoke is best for children 2 years old and below.
As babies get cranky over interrupted sleep, put them back at ease by putting on some classical music that’ll soothe them back into a calm and drowsy state. It also has children’s favourite rhymes and sounds that can make your baby laugh.
Let your child make their own music or sing along to their favourite children songs with Sesame friends. It features six musical instruments and lets a child play on his own or with Sesame Friends as his bandmates.
From background music that helps young children focus in their activities to going on singing adventures, ABC Kids Listen gives preschoolers and their families a trusted, educational and fun music app to listen to.
Why can’t you remember being born, learning to walk or saying your first words? What scientists know about ‘infantile amnesia’
Author: Vanessa LoBue
While you’re making memories with your baby, babies do, too. However, it’s not something they will remember themselves or talk about. While babies show they are able to form memories by demonstrating what they have been taught for a couple of hours or days, they aren’t able to form memories of what they experienced.
Find out more about what memories babies are able to form and when they start being able to form memories here.
1-2 year development
When, how and why to read to your child
Author: First Five Years
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that if books are available to children in the home environment and their parents regularly read aloud to them, they were more likely to have successful educational outcomes during their school years. Experts also advise to read to babies and children as soon as possible as it helps them get exposed to rarer words which aren’t found in normal daily conversations.
Read more about the benefits of reading and how to make it more interesting and fun for your children here.
2-3 year development
Predictable and consistent parental behaviour is key for optimal child brain development
Author: Tallie Z. Baram
There are many factors that affect early child brain development but one of the most important indicators that ensure a child’s better emotional and cognitive development is a parent’s consistent and predictable behaviour patterns. By doing so, parents provide a child an optimal and secure environment where their brain can grow, develop and thrive.
Read more about the research findings about how parents’ predictable behaviour can aid in their child’s brain development here.
3-4 year development
Improved mental health for children who play well with peers by age three
Author: Sally Weale
Analysing data from almost 1,700 children aged 3 and 7 revealed that 3-year-old children who were better at playing and getting along with their peers turn out to have fewer conduct and mental health problems later on when they turn 7 years old. Regardless of other factors that may contribute to mental health problems later on, the data still shows that positive peer play experiences influence a child’s good mental health.
Learn more about the study and how peer play can help your child have a better mental health later on here.
4-5 year development
Whole-body learning can boost children's letter sound recognition -- the first step toward reading
Author: University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science
Children who move while learning sounds of letters significantly improve their ability to recognize individual letter sounds, researchers at the University of Copenhagen found out. They compared three groups of children aged 5-6 learning their letters and found out moving contributed positively to children’s learning of their letters.
Know more about the study and how movement increases a child’s proficiency in learning here.
Create a sustainable doll collection by crafting pebble people with your kids. Kids of all ages can go out and gather pebbles that’s the best shape for heads and bodies. They also get to practise their fine motor skills when it comes to drawing, painting, and designing their pebble people.
Do you want your children to have fun while learning to count? Then have them create their very own counting sticks. Using glitter glue, have them decorate popsicle sticks with dots to correspond to a number. Having these tactile counting sticks also helps toddlers learn their numbers faster with a tactile sensory twist!
Get young children’s attention by inflating a balloon using only baking soda and vinegar in this fun chemistry experiment. Let young children see chemical reaction create balloons in front of their eyes in this short experiment. This experiment also lets them hone their fine motor skills as they put the ingredients in each container.
A STEM activity that’s also totally snackable, make a candy DNA model to show young children the basic blueprint of all living things on Earth. Young children can practice their fine motor skills piercing gummy candies of different colours into toothpicks before attaching pairs to twizzlers. Just make sure they aren’t eating all of the gummies that serve as code chemicals.