Relationships can be difficult, despite your age. Lately, research has been done on music developed to help children with conflict resolution, social relationships, and school performance. A small college in Portland, Oregon, created a CD specifically for 360 children in first and second grade. The children were given a CD with nine songs that included activities to be done in the classroom. The themes were as follows:
- using manners
- putting forth your best efforts
- dealing with your fears
- thinking positively
- conflict and communication
- managing and expressing feelings
- celebrating differences
- caring and respect
- friendship and reaching out
Teachers in the classrooms were required to assess the children four times within the year using the behavioral and emotional screening system, or BESS. The college students, parents of the children, and the school’s principal all provided feedback throughout the process.
Many noticeable improvements were seen in the first and second graders. Teachers noted that the students used the tools they learned effectively when it came to bullying and teasing. They began resolving their conflicts by discussing their feelings with others and better understood how to use the Golden rule. Students were also exhibiting a positive attitude more often and staying on task. Their overall self-control and concentration was also improved.
Music is a wonderful teaching tool in any class. Not only can it make the classroom feel more upbeat, but it can also be used as a way to help children better understand complex concepts and enhance their cognitive abilities. Music helps to stimulate areas of the brain that are responsible for motor control, hearing, and language development. It also sustains our attention and is highly pleasurable. Music gives a sensation that is similar to other pleasure producing stimuli, but has no addictive properties. So, it is not only useful for learning, but adds joy and pleasure to our lives.
Studies continue to show that music is a great way to teach children skills they need. The skills not only help them with their social and emotional skills, but can help boost their academic performance. Now, if everyone would start understanding the benefits music can bring to children, may be more music will be used in schools and out throughout the day.
Lately, we have been discussing how music helps children learn. Music is a wonderful way to connect emotion to the senses. It is also a great way for children with verbal communication difficulties to express themselves. Below are some ways that children on the autism spectrum can benefit from music.
- Improves their focus and attention: one particular child I worked with had a hard time sitting still in their chair. She would constantly wiggle around and touch everything in her range. When I placed the ukulele in her lap, she was given something to direct her focus towards. She was unable to truly understand musical notes, but enjoyed feeling the vibrations the ukulele made. It didn’t take long before she began recognizing the low and high pitched strings. As we worked on the ukulele, she was quickly able to repeat patterns of simple songs. The structure gave her the focus she needed to make it through the entire song in one sitting. Over a three-month period, her focus and attention began being seen beyond music class.
- Improves their social integration: a young man in one of my music classes was interested in playing in a band. He had a hard time holding eye contact, though, as well as communicating with others. Over time, as we play together, he learned the importance of the social skills and, because of his dream, overcame his social issues.
- Improves fine motor skills: many autistic children have problems with fine motor skills. One young lady I was teaching was interested in learning the guitar. We started with easy songs with a simple note and gradually moved towards ones that were harder. She began increasing her confidence as we learned more advanced proper fingering techniques. Once it clicked with her, her fine motor skills improved quickly.
- Builds self-esteem and confidence: music is a wonderful tool to help build self-esteem. People from a wide variety of abilities can enjoy music. In the stories above, not only do these students improve areas of their life, but because they were able to overcome parts of their autism, they grew as people and gained better self-esteem and confidence.
One of my favorite parts of being a music teacher is seeing children when they truly enjoy music and it clicks with them. It is even more rewarding when children with learning disabilities and other challenges finally get it. The successes they enjoy in music class translate into the rest of their world. Helping any child learn to better themselves is the reason I love teaching.
We have all heard the phrase, “dance like no one is watching.” This concept is important when it comes to teaching children about music. Children are naturally drawn towards music. Simply watch a group of children while music is playing. Odds are, you will see them moving their body in some way or another. Some children may be more reserved and simply tap their finger to the beat, while others will jump up and start moving their bodies in all sorts of ways. Children have no natural inhibitions. They don’t care if anyone is watching their movements or not. Perhaps it is time for you to be more like a child and join in.
There are many reasons you should join your child in dancing. I am sure you understand that dancing is developmentally important for gross motor skills. When your child sees you reinforcing what they are doing and having fun at the same time, they begin seeing dancing to music as a positive activity. Dancing is not only fun for your child, but it also encourages body control, helps with posture, strengthens the body, and encourages rhythmic development. Dancing can help your child better understand how their own body works.
Even beyond the physical benefits of dancing, the emotional responses of dancing are great on their own. When children dance, it is hard for them to be sad. Instead, they tend to become joyful. Imagine the memories your child will have of dancing with their mom or dad.
Music and dancing go hand-in-hand. It is simple to encourage dancing by simply turning on music throughout the day. Dance while you clean your home, while you work, or while you are simply having fun. Not only will your child enjoy you seeing dancing happily, but it would get your endorphins flowing and make you feel better as well. So, go ahead, dance like no one is watching.
You don’t have to be a music teacher to recognize your child’s musical responses. A parent can notice musical talent at an early age. An infant can move their body to the music or join in with shaking a maraca. A toddler can enjoy dancing, and a young child can begin music lessons. Music responses come naturally. Though many adults believe their lack of musical expertise keeps them from being musically available to their child, there are many things they can do to help their child reach their musical potential: Brought to you by our friends at Atlanta Wedding Photography!
- Sing with them: simply playing music for a child doesn’t teach them musical development, but participating with them daily in active music-making does. Sing with them throughout the day, from wake up time until bedtime. Sing songs about brushing their teeth, getting dressed, and transitioning throughout the day. Sing a lullaby to your child as you rock them to sleep. It is great for your child to hear your voice, whether you can sing on pitch or not.
- Dance like no one is watching: you don’t have to be a great dancer to dance with your child. It is important for young children to be actively involved with music. You can help your child develop competence and fill the music by getting up and dancing with them.
- Make a lot of noise: pull out the pots and pans and begin banging on them. Use other household items to invoke your child’s curiosity and creativity. You can use your homemade instruments to accompany the songs you are ready sing. Teach children about different sounds by using different objects within your home. If you play an instrument, take it out and begin teaching your child more about it.
- Use rhymes: rhyming gives children the opportunity to play along with rhythm and beat. Use a chant you enjoy and bounce the child to the beat of the rhyme. Your local library should have a wide array of rhyming books.
- Make music fun: whether you are singing, dancing, or playing music, keep your using interactions active. This can be done by simply clapping your hands or by dancing to the music. Your child will learn to love music if you keep it fun.
All children have a natural innate ability to make music. The best time to use music with your child is from birth when their musical intelligence is high. As a parent, you have a unique role in developing the musical talent in your child. Make music a shared event in your home to stimulate their music talent regularly.