Guest blog post by Lauren Elliott
Did you know that your child’s hearing is their most developed sense at the time of birth? And that they are able to hear from around the 16th week of your pregnancy? Your child’s ears are filled with music and the sound of the voices they love the most, long before they are even born. We can embrace this in our play, from birth and right through childhood!
My name is Lauren Elliott, and I am the cofounder of Elegie School of Music in Solihull. I have a 2-year-old son and a 6-month-ld daughter. I am passionate about ensuring that the lives of children are filled with music - I provide lots of ideas and inspiration over at Musical Mum.
If you are reading Claire’s wonderful blog, you already have an invested interest in helping your child learn through play. You already consider how to play with your children, how to help with their development, how to bond with them, and how to fill their childhood with fun. I’d like to challenge you to add an auditory element to your play! Add a musical dimension to enhance their learning even further. Studies consistently show that learning against a backdrop of music can help to cement ideas, form new connections in the brain, and increase concentration. Plus it can boost your mood, release loads of beautiful endorphins, and make everyone feel happier and closer. What more could you want from something so simple??
Using music in play doesn’t have to be complicated, and involves little to no prep! Here are some great ways to get started:
1) Use a variety of music when being creative with your little one. Simple activities, such as painting, can have a brand new lease of life when set to music. Use a contrasting soundtrack, featuring tracks that are fast/slow, loud/quiet, angry, excited, happy, sad - watch the difference that it makes to your child’s creative energy. You could ask them to paint what they can hear, or just have them listening passively - either can produce lovely results..
2) Sing at every opportunity! Your voice is the most wonderful sound in the world to your child! It doesn’t matter if you ‘can’t’ sing - they will love it. Children have no judgement. They just want you to play, to share in their game, and to be present. Singing is one of the best ways to show your child that they have your undivided attention 😊
Singing is a secret weapon! It is a master tool of distraction -
in times of hunger, tiredness and looming tantrums. A song can provide a light break from the cause of the upset, it can pass the time beautifully while you are waiting for something, and it can bring a smile to tired faces!
You can sing nursery rhymes, when prompted by characters in books or daily life. You could sing pretty much any words to a tune such as ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. Sing about your child’s toys, family, places they visit. Sing songs featuring your child’s name! It is reassuring, comforting and great fun for them to hear songs about things that they love. Sing sound effects to their play - the whistle of a train, the cry of a baby, the roar of the lion - let your inhibitions go and help them to bring their characters to life.
3) Create soundtracks based on your child’s favourite things. Spotify is a brilliant resource for this, as it allows you to search for and enjoy playlists created by thousands of listeners. Search for ‘vehicles’ or ‘fireworks’ or ‘paw patrol’, and you will find a whole wealth of music at your fingertips. Little ones will delight in hearing language references to their favourite things, and it helps to reinforce ideas in their play. Plus, children often ‘sing’ before they speak, so it is a lovely way of encouraging more sounds from their own mouths!
4) Create a playlist of music according to the mood you want to create. Try some upbeat music during that afternoon slump, or some calming music before you wind down for bedtime.
There is a saying that a child that sings is a happy child 🎶Try adding music to your play this week, and see if it helps to inspire you and your little ones!
And don't forget, if you're looking for more ideas for ways to play and explore music, we have the music playPROMPTS (mini pack) available! Click the image to see in store!