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Music & Movement

How music encourages development of gross motor skills

by Melanie Schmuck

Children begin to respond to music at an early age, whether it puts a smile on their face or they begin to bop their head along to the music.   Not only is it cute to watch your little one try to dance to the rhythm of the music, but it is actually promoting many developmental factors.  Music paired together with movement has been shown to improve children’s memory, cognitive development, physical development, and expressive communication abilities.  Studies have shown that dancing has an effect on motor performance in children with sensory integration dysfunction as the music and rhythm provide an exciting and enjoyable way to approach vestibular and sensory integration. 

If you’re finding that your child is having a hard time calming down, try putting on some calming music. Listening to music on its own has a calming effect.  By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, it can help decrease heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure.  By doing this, you are allowing your child to process auditory input and focus on the music. 

Combining music with movement can have a different effect.  It can affect two components of motor learning: motor activity and spatial-temporal reasoning.  Music helps encourage children to explore their environment, and exploring their environment helps them develop motor learning.  Music, simply put, gives children a reason to move and express themselves.  In addition, by “dancing” along to music, your child is learning how to sequence motor actions.  Dancing itself can even resemble typical daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and can help children learn and organize the movements required for everyday tasks.  So let’s put on some music and get moving!

So what does all this mean for us and our kiddos?

Pick one of their favorite songs and make up a simple dance routine they can follow! To get your child excited about it, have him/her choose a few dance moves they want to incorporate.

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