What We Know As Teachers
As early childhood educators we know from experience the benefits of early music experiences for the children that we work with every day. We see the joy and enthusiasm they feel when engaging in interactive music and movement activities. We know that moving and interacting with music helps children to express their creativity, and put their abundant energy to use in a positive way. We have seen first hand that regular interactive music groups result in social and emotional development, self regulation development and physical development. We also know that fun, high energy music activities help to create a positive atmosphere in the classroom, positive interactions between children, their peers and their teachers but is there a connection between music and language learning?
What Does The Science Say About Music and Language Learning?
Are there other benefits to children’s development beyond what we are seeing in our real world interactions? Here is a link to a peer reviewed article that combines the results of 20 years of studies on the effects of music instruction on emergent literacy capacities among preschool children: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ848819.pdf
To paraphrase the summary of this article: Several studies conducted over the past 20 years have shown a significant connection between music and language learning. These studies indicate that children who are involved in musical activities and develop awareness of music and melody benefit from a boost in phonological awareness and pre-reading abilities. Children who participate in early childhood music benefit from accelerated development in word recognition and spelling abilities. Finally, musical activities promote the development of auditory perception, phonological memory and metacognitive knowledge, three components that are vital to the development of linguistic abilities.
Music is something that children are intuitively drawn to. As educators we see the excitement, engagement, creativity and joy that music activities inspire in our students every day. I submit that there is no other activity that has such profound and diverse benefits on the development of children in early childhood. We owe it to our students to make music and movement activities a part of our daily classroom activities.
How Can Teachers Without Musical Training Create A Rich And Effective Music And Movement Program?
In order to achieve these benefits it takes more than just putting on music and encouraging the children to engage with it. With the right resources it is fun, easy and rewarding for teachers without musical experience or training to lead engaging and enriching music groups with their students. When teachers have access to intentional and well designed tools and curriculum, daily music groups become intuitive and natural. Music time is the highlight of the day for many students and their teachers.
Try this interactive song and a musical story with your students: click here and enter password: music&movement1
Nick Young has been an early childhood music educator for 25 years and is the creator of PlayMotion Music©.