“Where words fail,” Hans Christian Andersen once said, “Music speaks.” But of all the extracurricular activities parents can participate in with their kids, music may be one of the more neglected. You might feel you’re not musically inclined. Or that musical activities and instruments are too expensive. Or perhaps you simply don’t have the time or talent to teach your children the value of music properly.
The fact is, music is an invaluable part of any child’s creative expression. It’s an expression that brings joy. It nourishes our soul. It enriches it. It makes it sing like a melody. In fact, it’s one of the most vital and immediate ways we learn to bond.
But the benefits of musical activities aren’t merely limited to emotional bonding. Recent studies indicate that music has a considerable impact on cognitive function and child development, including improved memory, attention, and increased vocabulary skills. Which is one of the reasons why music continues to be such a substantial part of a well-rounded academic curriculum.
Children are, by default, creative. It’s one of the chief ways they learn to engage with the world around them. And there’s no easier way to share in that engagement—even if you, like most parents, may have the proverbial “tin ear.” And it doesn’t require spending hundreds of dollars on fancy musical instruments, either. Anything can be turned into a musical instrument with a little ingenuity, including everyday household objects. Here are some of the best ways you can engage with your kids in musical activities.
One of the easiest ways for kids to learn is through games. In fact, research has long supported blending formal learning with games as a way of improving memory and information retention in early childhood education. And psychology is exactly the same when it comes to musical games.
Most of us are familiar with the “Name That Tune.” Try playing pre-recorded instrument sounds for your preschooler to see if they can identify each one. Or make it more physical by dancing, jumping and freezing on cue to the start and stop of a song. Expose your children to the diversity of both music and sounds early on and you’ll find not only their perspective but their means of expression will be broadened immeasurably.
Bang The Pot, Not The Drum
We’re all familiar with it. The clanging and crashing coming out of the kitchen at 6 in the morning on a Saturday. The stomping in and around each room the house. The dented steel. And the insistence that you join in on the racket instead of sleeping soundly in bed.
It might be a nightmare on your eardrums, but it’s music to your child’s ears. There are numerous theories regarding why we’re so innately drawn to percussion (one interesting one is that it mimics the human heartbeat.) One thing is for certain, though. Right now your child is trying to express themselves. And asking them to quiet down sends a message that creative expression should be stifled. They’re not ripping up furniture or drawing with magic markers on the walls. Either join in, or invest in a pair of earbuds.
Shake, Shake, Shake It All Around
Why not engage in three of the primary senses with your preschooler simultaneously: sight, sound and touch? Simply take several handfuls of colored beads or pebbles and drop them into an empty milk jug (make certain it’s no more than halfway full.) Cap tightly, and voila! Your child has their very own maraca! For even more of a hands on activity, help them decorate it with sparkles, yarn, magic marker, baubles… anything they choose to help make it more personalized. You’ll find that the crafting material they choose can often say more about your child than you might expect.
Build Your Own Recyclable Conservatory
Rusty paint cans. Discarded Christmas decorations. Mason jar lids. Whatever is collecting dust in your basement or garage can be used to create your child’s first conservatory.
Those jingling jangling bells that used to hang off your old wreath? Tie a pair to a lid and your child has their first set of chimes. Let them use old wood blocks (make certain there are no splinters!) for percussion. Kitchen twine stretched tightly between two locks can make a twanging sound which sounds just like a guitar. Whatever you can recycle, you can turn into your child’s own personal orchestra!
Be A Non Stop Radio Station
One of the keys to music appreciation is complete immersion coupled with variety. Turn your home into a radio station by having music constantly in the background. Yes, you may have heard some experts claim that early exposure to Beethoven and Mozart can increase your child’s intelligence. And while it certainly won’t hurt, there’s not a lot of corroborating evidence. Don’t be afraid of exposing your kids to some of your favorite music, whether it’s Bach or the Beatles. Pay attention to how your child reacts. Ask them what they like (or dislike) about a particular song or melody. Chances are, their tastes will be entirely different than yours. But it will also reveal a lot about your child’s own temperament.
Don’t Just Read… Sing!
Can’t carry a tune? Don’t worry about it! Instead of reading your child their favorite story before bed, try singing it. It doesn’t have to rhyme. Nor does it matter if you’re practically tone deaf. If you can remember any sort of nursery rhyme, you’ll find melodies not only have a soothing effect but can help foster your child’s creative inspiration. Children like to mimic their parents, after all—even if they can likely sing better than you ever will.
Need more great tips on how to unlock your child’s creative side? At Imagine Nation Learning Center, we’re just as devoted to connecting with families as we are to your child’s early education. For more information or to schedule a tour at any one of over 7 different locations throughout Texas, visit us at https://imaginenationcenter.com/