Whether you have a child with a disability or not, including music in your household will benefit your child’s development in so many ways. Here are a few easy ways to enjoy music with your kids!
If you’re like most of our parents, you claim you can’t sing. We hear this from parents all the time, and I’m here to say, it doesn’t matter how good you feel you are at singing!
To your kids, you singing with them will be what matters most. Research shows the mother’s voice is essential to developmental growth and that infants can recognize the mother’s voice from others. This is for a reason – your kids are physically designed to bond to you – and if you are a foster parent or a non-biological parent, developing this bond can happen through singing, as well.
Sing silly songs, the songs your parents sang to you or even your favorite music. Just sing! Give yourself license to sing without worrying about how you sound. As the model for your children, you teach them whether or not it’s okay to sing with abandon. By you singing, you give them the gift of knowing its okay to sing for fun!
Why is it important? Singing helps tremendously with language development and oral motor planning. It’s great for kids with speech delays, autism, or Down syndrome who have difficulty with speech. Singing also helps cognitively with memory, learning, and recall. Just imagine remembering your ABCs without remembering the song. You can’t! Music is part of how our brains learn. And it’s fun and helps people connect.
If you ever have kids with tons of energy and no plans in store for the day, why not have a dance party? If you want to make it extra fun, turn off the lights and use flashlights while dancing. Turn the dancing into “freeze dance” by pausing the music and seeing who can freeze mid-dance.
Since our bodies are wired to move in time with music, the more we dance with our kids, the more opportunities they have to strengthen their motor planning skills, while having tons of fun. Another tip for brain development through dancing is to practice crossing the midline while dancing (left arm to right side of body, and vice versa). This stimulates communication between the left and right sides of our brains and is an essential part of early brain development.
3. Song Books
I’ve discovered a handful of awesome picture books that can be sung. Baby Beluga, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and I’m a Little Teapot, to name a few. As well as Music Together’s collection of song books, which come with music you can download and listen to as you sing-read along with the book. Song books are also great for kids with autism who need visual stimulation to stay focused on a given activity.
4. Play Instruments
Percussion instruments are the easiest. Try bringing out some plastic bowls and wooden spoons to make some music with. You don’t have to have or buy instruments. So many objects in our lives can be used to make sound. Another example is to fill an empty water bottle with beans and it becomes a shaker. There are tons of possibilities. Playing instruments helps with motor coordination while also giving tactile sensory stimulation, all while having fun for everyone in the family.
5. Play with Tempo and Dynamics
Kids love to sing the same song faster, or louder. Take any song and make it ten times more fun by singing it super fast or slow-motion slow, and loud as a lion or quietly as a mouse. Believe it or not, you’re teaching your child to learn how to regulate themselves by playing with making sounds that are fast/slow or loud/quiet.
Bonus: See if your child can create the sound of different emotions on percussion instruments (ex: sad, happy, afraid, angry, tired/bored, excited, etc.). You can take turns “playing” emotions to each other. This activity helps to teach emotional regulation.
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