Music Helps Language Development

Jan 27, 2013 by

Music Helps Language Development

By Shara Lawrence-Weiss

The University at Buffalo recently wrote about the link between music and reading readiness (January 23, 2013).

National educational organizations such as the National Reading Association recommend “playful experiences” as ways to make these pre-kindergarten children more ready to read, Runfola pointed out. This new study clearly shows the association between music and traits that can make it easier for preschoolers to learn language skills, she said.

Thrive by Five of Washington wrote about another study, on the same day, related to early language development.

The study released by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) found that children with greater concentration of white and gray matter in the hippocampus and cerebellum by the time they were a year old showed higher language ability.

Back in December, new evidence was presented, linking the arts and learning in early childhood.

Children who are actively involved and engaged in singing, music & movement, storytelling and art & craft activities are significantly advantaged as this lays down unique brain connections that have short and long term impacts on the developmental pathways.

My daughter and I, dancing to a Joanie Leeds CD.

My daughter and I, dancing to a Joanie Leeds CD.

Many schools are cutting (or have already cut) their funding for the Arts. While this is not a favorable option for those of us who support the Arts in early childhood, the good news is: parents can fill this gap at home. These studies provide a springboard for our knowledge base, giving us a peek inside our children’s brains. We can use this information to our child’s advantage, right at home.

While growing up, I didn’t realize that my own parents were well educated when it came to music and the Arts. We were not a wealthy family and my mother was an immigrant. My father was a musician, however, and my mom eventually began working in schools as a Special Education Teacher Aide. Between the two of them they knew: kids learn valuable skills through music, movement, singing and dancing. My father often played the piano while his daughters danced around the living room. My mom played music for us at home, in the car, on the way to church and during road trips.

Each of their daughters was given music lessons of some sort and/or singing lessons. We made up our own songs, too, in storytelling format. This was my father’s idea.

During my years as a nanny, and my days as a Preschool Teacher Aide, I quickly saw that music was an invaluable learning tool. As a mother of four I have witnessed first-hand the connection between music and language development. All of my children were early communicators. Each of them was introduced to music from day one. We sing, recite, memorize, dance and giggle. We talk about the music and the words being sung. My kids love to act out the songs with hand motions, facial expressions and body movement. Sometimes they make up their own songs, just like I did when I was a kid. Sometimes they act out the songs as a play or musical. All of this involves language, which supports literacy development and comprehension.

I used to engage my kids (and the kids I worked with) in music because it was fun. It’s still fun but now I know, from the studies being done, it’s really a gift.

A gift that every child should receive.

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  1. I’ve been teaching music privately for twenty years. Music itself is a language. I find that my students who learn music, break down challenges much easier. As early leathers, we learn with rhyme and melody. There is a reason we “sing” our ABC’s.

  2. Music is an amazing learning tool in so many ways. Melodies make memorizing easier. Beats and rhythm help children separate syllables more clearly. New word exposure increases vocabulary. The list goes on…

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