Music and movement are magical ingredients to learning for both parent and child. A baby’s first communication is through movement. A toddler will respond immediately to lively music with what seems to be humorous gyrations but to him are quite serious attempts to coordinate movement with rhythmic patterns. The young child seems to be moving constantly – leaping off couches, rolling down hills, and spinning around and around until she falls down in a giggling heap on the floor.
Here’s why children want – and NEED – to move. Our brains fully develop through movement activities such as crawling, rolling, turning, walking, skipping, reaching, swinging and much more. The brain has a plan for development that involves specific and intensive motor activities to make full use of our complicated nervous system. The nervous system of each human being must go through a series of developmental stages before the brain can operate at its full potential. All children “program” their motor and perceptual equipment, nerves and brain cells by using their whole body and all their senses.
Movement is fundamental for the development of the central nervous system but movement and rhythm are also essential for the development of the soul. When a parent moves with her child, a special bonding takes place that is extremely important for social and emotional growth. When a parent sings to her child, not only are language skills being developed, but also a sense of love, comfort and harmony. The special touching, laughing and rhythmic moving that takes place in a music and movement class and together at home lays a very strong and much needed foundation for a happy, healthy and joyful life!
Movement activities are key components in all Kindermusik curricula, and it’s easy to incorporate these movement activities and ideas at home as well:
- Intentional touch (massage) provides stimulation of the nervous system, relaxation and bonding.
- Activities that involve unilateral, bi-lateral and cross-lateral movements help develop the brain and muscles.
- Movement and dance steps allow the adult and child to experience different rhythms and locomotor movements.
- Synchronized dances develop sequencing, facilitate reassuring repetition, and provide social interaction.
- Expressive movement provides variety, creativity and opposing feelings such as fast and slow, high and low.
- Rocking and swinging stimulate the vestibular system, which is so important to balance and even eye movement.
- Props, such as scarves or hoops, provide tactile and visual stimulation.
So… put on your music, especially Kindermusik, and get moving!
Here are some ways to get moving with each age & stage…
Every week in our classes, we begin with a lively hello song. What a great way to bring a new group of moms, dads, caregivers and babies together by singing, waving, swaying, and bouncing hello!
As you’re doing all that movement while singing hello, you are also stimulating your baby’s vestibular system, which controls the sense of balance and physical orientation. The vestibular system is very active as Baby gains a sense of gravity and understanding of his physical environment through movement. Rocking, swaying, and any movement which rotates the head all help stimulate Baby’s vestibular system. Enjoy bonding with Baby while helping him learn through movement!
Ever noticed that your toddler is ALWAYS on the move? Movement is a universal, full-time, personal, childhood occupation, and its importance in children’s early learning experiences cannot be overemphasized. Children develop movement in space to understand position, size, distance, and shape. Continuous activity is essential for an optimal, rather than marginal, level of motor performance.
Fine motor skills may be developed through games requiring focus on finger movements. These skills are essential in increasing the child’s ability to turn pages of a book, use a crayon, hold a toothbrush, or use a spoon.
From birth, movement stimulates a process of nerve cell connecting and networking that results in learning and thought and that`s why movement activities are a part of every Kindermusik lesson. They function to enhance musical learning as well as to address the child’s inner need to move. All Young Child lessons have an ebb and flow of movement that is designed to help the child learn more effectively. As you look through our viewing window, you’ll notice that after a period of focused or quiet activity, the children are encouraged to move expansively.
In the second year of the Young Child curriculum, movement continues to be a central component of every class as we explore expressive & creative movement, patterned movement, body awareness and activities to explore space, dancing and circle games, and movement as a preparation to ensemble.
Through speech and movement, the child internalizes patterns that will be transferred to a variety of instruments. Movement preparation is fundamental to success with ensemble building at this age. To put it in the mind, one has to experience it in the body first.
This article is adapted from the Nov/Dec 1999 issue of Kindermusik Notes and was originally written by Anne Green Gilbert, Director of the Creative Dance Center and Kaleidoscope Dance Company in Seattle, Washington, and a consultant for Kindermusik International.