Please welcome guest blogger, Jessica Socheski! Jessica is here to share with us today about why it is important to expose kids to music from an early age.
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Between birth and age 3, a child’s brain rapidly grows to construct important pathways and connections. Subsequently, the benefits of music for the brain at any age have been long touted. Studies have demonstrated the slowing of babies’ heartbeats when exposed to tunes while still in the womb. But how does it work, and why is it so effective for babies and young children?
Photo credit: gizmodo.com
How Does Music Exposure Help the Brain?
In her report “Building Baby’s Brain: The Role of Music,” Dr. Diane Bales writes that “Much of the brain’s wiring does not happen until after birth. This window in which the brain is forging new pathways allows for the influence of classic music. This is because “the synapses used for classical music are similar to those used for spatial and temporal reasoning, which are skills needed for math” and language development, explains Globalpost.com
Bales also notes that every experience received by the five senses serves to “guide development” by helping build and reinforce connections. This means that to a certain extent the textures, sights, smells, tastes and sounds which a child is exposed to help determine how the brain is shaped. This is why it is believed that exposure to the complex melodies of classical music can help the brain respond by aiding in the growth of more complex pathways.
To give a child the optimal environment for development, it is recommended that parents and caregivers do several important things like:
• Providing good nutrition both before and after birth
• Ensuring a safe, secure and loving world for your newborn and toddler
• Talking often to your child in face-to-face interaction
• Reading aloud from an early age
• And of course, stimulating the brain with music.
Will Music Make My Baby Smarter?
It is a misinterpretation of research to claim that listening to Mozart will improve intelligence. However, exposure to classical music can “improve cognitive abilities,” according to psychologist Dr. Frances Rauscher and neuroscientist Gordon Shaw.
The benefits of music for children can be further built upon in later life. Continuing musical stimuli when a child plays an instrument, goes to take dance classes or attends theory lessons at an older age will help to reinforce pathways built in infancy. Music can provide auditory stimulation that may help other areas like language, math and critical thinking skills.
Why the Hype Over Classical?
Most often, the argument for music and increased cognitive ability calls for classical compositions. As opposed to rock and roll, classical music provides more complex structure, use of instruments and presence of harmony. While any kind of music can be powerful, classical seems often more intricate and relaxing.
Although a steady program of exposure to the classical masters in the prenatal environment is not a guarantee for a child genius, there are some arguably important benefits to providing music to babies, toddlers and children of all ages. Music can help increase cognitive powers by connecting synapses in the developing brain. So whether it is searching for local piano teachers or just turning on music while you change diapers, music can play an important role in the optimal development of your child.
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Jessica Socheski is a freelance writer who is passionate about healthy lifestyles and loves learning about families. You can find her on Twitter (@jessicasocheski).