| Aug 07, 2008

Jul 17/08 - Early Literacy

Back toHome

Early Literacy - July 17, 2008 Music and babiesby Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist, HFL&A

It’s summertime - time for buskers on city streets, outdoor music concerts, and singing around the campfire. For many adults, teens and children, music hits an irresistible chord.

It is that way for babies too. Expectant mothers know the frenetic kicking that rock music can trigger in their unborn child. Once a baby’s ears are formed in utero, sound is transmitted through the amniotic fluid at about thirty decibels less than outside the mother’s body. Some researchers have found that infants exposed to music in the womb show a remarkable ability to imitate sound and respond to it after birth!

In fact early exposure to music has been linked to:

Higher scores on tests of visual spatial reasoning. This type of reasoning is necessary for many tasks, including mathematics.

Increased efficiency in the way right and left hemispheres in the brain communicate. Musicians who began their musical training in childhood were shown to have a larger corpus callosum (structure connecting the two hemispheres in the brain) than non-musicians.

Improved reading scores. Active engagement with music, such as singing, can help toddlers fine-tune their ability to differentiate the sounds of language. This helps children with language and reading skills.

Enhanced listening skills. Children exposed to ample amounts of music were better able to concentrate for longer periods of time.

So what kinds of music do babies like?

Babies prefer higher tones. They respond well to soprano voices.

Babies enjoy melodies in a major key.

Babies like music that is simple and repetitive.

How can you encourage your baby’s development using music?

Play all kinds of music. Music from different styles and cultures broaden a child’s appreciation and responsiveness to music. Mozart, Bach, and folk music have been shown to create coherence in brain wave patterns. During a baby’s and toddler’s rapid brain growth, this can be very helpful. (50% of an infant’s brain growth occurs by six months. 70-85% of brain development is complete by one year.)

Use music to trigger memory. Music can enhance learning new tasks. Singing the same songs while changing diapers, bathing or feeding can help a baby remember and anticipate aspects of routines. With repetition, your baby will also anticipate changes in melody and words.

Dance or move with your baby while singing or playing music. Let your child feel and hear the rhythms of sound. As well as sheer fun, this helps your child recognize stress, syllables and rhyme in words. This awareness impacts a child’s ability to read later on.

So rock on, with a voice that is off-key or trained, knowing that your little one benefits greatly when you sing a lullaby at the end of a long summer day.

Rock-a-bye baby on the treetop,

When the wind blows the cradle will rock. When crickets chirp the baby will smile,And fall asleep happy in a short while.Susan Ramsay is the Early Literacy Specialist for Hastings, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington. You can contact her at 613-354-6318 (ext 32)

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.