If you're a parent, I'm willing to bet that you have listened to music in the last hour, maybe you are listening to some right now: maybe it's Rihanna, maybe it's Mumford and Sons, or maybe even Elvis. Whatever your preference, I'm sure you love listening to your favourite artists every chance you get-- be it in the car to drop the kids off at school, at the gym to motivate you or simply as a social aspect.
Music exists in every culture; Parents across the world sing to their babies from pregnancy all the way after birth as a sleep time routine or to calm down a sick child. Music not only provides us with an emotional connection that relaxes tension and stress, but is also a natural and rhythmic way to learn.
Do you ever wonder why children learn to sing their ABCs before they can say them? Or that many of our favourite children's books have a certain rhyme or rhythmic pattern?
There are literally hundreds of professional studies that show that there is a very strong connection between literacy and music and the impact it provides to children's long-term development needs, even into adulthood.
Through music, children learn to:
• Cultivate social skills
• Build their self-esteem and confidence
• Understand discipline and patience
• Listen - an important literacy and life skills
• Understand language and cultures
• Experiment with rhythm, words, tempo, and melody
• Think creatively and holistically
• Make the connection between print and spoken words
• Practice motor development and motor coordination while experimenting with various instruments, sound and dancing
You have probably heard the tremendous impact sound and reading has on children with special needs but the impact is just as crucial for all children, particularly from young ages.
The state of learning today
One in six people in the UK live with poor literacy. This holds them back at every stage of their life, from childhood through schools, continuing to adulthood, where many will be locked out of the job market. Lacking these vital skills undermines their well-being and stops them making a full contribution to the economic and cultural life of our nation.
The National Literacy Trust is a national charity, dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. Their recent analysis on music directly linked to children's development within an age group of 0-5 years. The research concluded that children not only find it easier to remember long strings of words, phrases and sentences when they are 'attached' to a tune or rhyme, but this creative learning revealed an increased understanding of descriptive vocabulary to support them, which helped them to describe the sounds of the instruments and the music as well as improved listening skills.
The report also showed that music attached to reading increased the Children's learning in other subject areas and their ability to tell their own tales and engage their imagination through creating their own stories with rhyme and song, as well as developing them on a personal level, through confidence and personal perception.
It's very clear throughout all the research conducted that literacy and musical development in childhood directly impacts in the continued development of adults, which we are seeing today through lack of employability skills and lack of basic literacy and maths - which is dramatically impacting the job market and availability of work in the UK.
How to start your child on their journey
The earlier you can start your children's development the better. Many parents (like me) choose to start off small with rhyming books and stories which you can read with them at bedtime, then as they learn they can start to take over the story and add additions into it with encouragement.
A recent book we have utilised is Jungle Jam - a fun, creative story aimed at 0-5 years, which follows a sweet little monkey called 'Mikey' who takes the reader on an adventure of rhyming fun, through his love of singing and the sound of music, he meets friends along his journey such as 'Larry the Lion' and 'Ziggy the Zebra' who introduce little Mikey to the splendour of teamwork, collaboration and the magical world of making friends.
Jungle Jam was conceived by husband and wife team Louise and Noam Lederman. They had an idea for a children's book six years ago when their first child was born. They dreamt of writing a book combining their passion for music and education. Both Louise and Noam strongly believe that music can have a huge impact on early development for children, and found this was an area that was not fully available to them for their children, so they created Jungle Jam. Noam is a professional musician with a successful music publishing company and Louise is a Marketing and PR specialist with vast experience in working with disability and children's charities.
If you are looking to start your child off with musical reading, then here are Jungle Jam's reasonable and practical ways to assimilate music into the lives of young children:
1. Expose children to a variety of musical genres from a young age. Different music has different tempos and rhythms so exposure to all genres of music, according to experts, helps brain development.
2. Don't just rely only on recorded music. Sing to your children. Recite poems and finger plays. These activities should be a part of children's weekly routine.
3. When introducing a new song or poem to children, write it down on paper. This helps children make the connection between written and spoken language.
4. When listening to music, encourage children to listen and try to identify various instruments that they hear and play a game to 'shout them out' making it fun.
5. Hum a song and let the children guess what it is! This seems like a simple activity but it really encourages listening, thinking, and problem solving in your child.
6. Recognise the effect music has on children's behaviour. Smooth Latin music played at the right time of day can have a calming effect.
7. Provide children with a variety of instruments. Children should have time to experiment with instruments on their own.
8. DANCE! Some children are kinaesthetic learners and therefore for them, movement is important
If you would like to purchase Jungle Jam, and get your child started on musical learning, it is available on Amazon for just £5.99 here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1910762067