Motor Skills

Music and child development


How does music benefit children? What is the psychological research?

 

Music and child development. A clinical psychologist discusses: How does music benefit babies, infants and children? What is the psychological research. Baby-brain.co.uk

What are the benefits of babies and children playing music?

  • Social Development: music classes and playing music with babies and young children is going to involve a parent and probably other children too. The social elements of this (for parents too) are important. Also, turn taking, expression through a medium other than speech, and just having fun are going to be important elements. See the research below for findings that support the importance of interactive music making with baby.
  • Physical Development: playing an instrument requires good motor skills, both gross and fine. Baby bashing on a drum or shaking a rattle is an example of gross skills and more fine skills might come with pressing a key on a keyboard, or accurately hitting a note on a xylophone. Playing an instrument might also improve control and coordination skills in older children (see research below).
  • Psychological Development and Awareness:
    Cause and effect is a good one. Baby can learn that if they do one action (e.g. shake their hand up and down while holding a rattle) they have some effect (a noise) on their environment.
    Creativity
    Awareness of self and expression – I can make this noise, and express myself through it (especially as infants can not yet verbally communicate through speech).
– Encourages self-discipline, listening and concentration skills (see more about this from the research discussed below)

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

INTERACTIVE music making is important:

Research as summarized here with very young children has found that:
One-year-old babies who participate in interactive music classes with their parents smile more, communicate better and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music.

 

The infant brain might be particularly plastic with regard to musical exposure

The children in this study attended weekly music classes over 6 months. One class involved interactive music making and learning lullabies, songs with actions and nursery rhymes. Parents and babies worked together to learn to play percussion instruments, take turns and sing specific songs.
Another class involved parents and babies playing at various toy stations with recordings in the background.

Babies from the interactive classes showed better early communication skills, like pointing at objects that are out of reach, or waving goodbye. Socially, these babies also smiled more, were easier to soothe, and showed less distress when things were unfamiliar or didn’t go their way.

 

Babies who participated in the interactive music classes with their parentspreferred to listen to a version of a piano piece that stayed in key, versus a version that included out-of-key notes. Even their brains responded to music differently… [they] showed larger and/or earlier brain responses to musical tones.”

 

While both class types included listening to music and all the infants heard a similar amount of music at home, a big difference between the classes was the interactive exposure to music.

** Therefore, the interactive nature of the music classes appeared to be important, rather than passively listening to music in the background or playing with minimal interaction between parent and child.**

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

Does playing music “IMPROVE YOUR KID’S BRAIN”?

I came across this interesting article (original journal article here): Could Playing Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” and Other Music Improve Kids’ Brains? – Good question? What did the research find?  The main summary of the findings was:

Musical training might…help kids focus their attention, control their emotions and diminish their anxiety.

They looked at children aged 6 to 18 years old, and associations between playing a musical instrument and brain development. They used a measure of “cortical thickness”, and write that as children age, the cortex (outer layer of the brain) changes in thickness. The researchers wanted to see what impact music training would have in the cortex. Interestingly, they found that:

Music playing altered the motor areas of the brain, because the activity requires control and coordination of movement.

 

 

Music practice influenced thickness in the part of the cortex that relates to “executive functioning, including working memory, attentional control, as well as organization and planning for the future”

What are the possible social applications of this?
  • Apparently, 3/4 of high school students in the US never or rarely take lessons in arts or music. Therefore, the authors suggest that it is important to find new and innovative ways to make music training more widely available to young people, and to start this during childhood.

 

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

Playing music therefore appears to have an impact on skills and abilities such as attention, working memory, attention. What about just listening to music?
My Little Lovely (LL) and I attended a class called tiny Mozart when he was about 6 months old. It was ok. It involved listening to stories played out with musical accompaniment (It wasn’t particularly interactive between the parent and baby, though). So did it do his development any good?

 

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

Music & child development. The benefits, psychological research & how to use music with babies, toddlers, children. Baby-brain.co.ukWhat are the benefits of babies and children Listening to music?

  • The Mozart Effect – listening to classical music enhances intelligence? The “Mozart Effect” is probably a well known term by now. This became a popular saying in the mid-90s after a study (Rauscher & Shaw) reported that students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart showed improvements on spatial tasks. The effect was brief, only lasting 10-15 minutes. There has been a lot of research around this and results on the impact on “intelligence” and IQ vary.  Later studies found only a minimal increase in IQ (1.5 points, this is really not very much) and limited improvements on tasks.
  • Listening to classical music for primary school children, though, has been shown to have some benefits. A project that introduced primary school children to classical music reported that “children listened to a range of music from a selection of well-known classical composers including Beethoven…Mozart…and Mendelssohn. The process of listening to live classical repertoire enabled children to enhance their listening skills and develop other skills needed for careful listening, including concentration and self-discipline.”
  • As this article here sums up, there is minimal evidence that listening to classical music increases IQ, so instead enjoy the research like the project above that shows children enjoy classical music and it can encourage listening and concentration skills

 

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

How to use music with baby and toddlers

  • Interactive music making seems important. Learn to play an instrument together. I’m not talking about both taking up the guitar, I mean even something simple like shaking a maraca together. Take it in turns to make sounds. Respond to baby and mirror or echo their response. You could sing together too.
  • Singing is important for vocabulary development:Singing songs teaches children about how language is constructed. When you sing, words and phrases are slowed down and can be better understood by your baby. Singing regularly will help your baby to build up a vocabulary of sounds and words long before they can understand the meaning”, according to this article from the BBC.
  • More on singing to baby: this article outlines some of the findings. It cites that babies are particularly responsive when the music comes from the parent directly, and singing along with a parent can help develop awareness and skills in reciprocal communication. Music and rhyme in nursery rhymes can impact on ability in spatial reasoning, which the article writes can enhance mathematical and scientific abilities.
  • The article continues, in addition to singing nursery rhymes add songs with actions and encouraging dancing to the music to help build balance, coordination, body awareness and rhythm skills.
how to make a simple bottle shaker to play music with baby and encourage psychological development

Make a simple bottle shaker to make music

  • Get creative with music making equipment. Use pots and pans, or make a simple shaker from an old plastic bottle filled with pulses, dried pasta or something that makes a noise. We made one using red lentils and tapioca (pictured left).
  • Look for local and free activities to get involved in. Local libraries where we are do baby singing sessions. They are about 30-45 minutes of singing nursery rhymes together in a big circle, using actions and sometimes props like colourful pieces of material to wave around and puppets (e.g. animal puppets for Old McDonald Had a Farm).
  • Enjoy listening to and experiencing the music with your child, rather than worrying if it’s the “right kind” of music or that it should be prescriptive somehow, e.g. you must listen to 10 minutes of Mozart a day in order to increase IQ. This is because the research is mainly reporting the benefits of music to be around skills of concentration, listening and discipline (among others).

 

 

 

References:
James Hudziak, M.D. et al. Cortical Thickness Maturation and Duration of Music Training: Health-Promoting Activities Shape Brain Development. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, December 2014
David Gerry, Andrea Unrau, Laurel J. Trainor. Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development. Developmental Science, 2012; 15 (3): 398
Laurel J. Trainor. Musical experience, plasticity, and maturation: issues in measuring developmental change using EEG and MEG. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2012; 1252 (1): 25
Rauscher FH, Shaw GL, Ky KN. (1993). Music and Spatial Task Performance. Nature, 365(6447):611.

The importance of physical activity for baby and infants

Let's get physical! Physical activity with babies and toddlers: the importance of it, and guidelines.

Let’s get physical, baby

I found this nice page from the NHS on physical activity guidelines for children under 5 (walking and non-walking)

 

Baby containers
Often, it is very easy for baby to spend time being still or strapped in somewhere like, the high-chair, then maybe into the buggy for an outing, then when you get home, maybe into the cot for nap, then into the high-chair again for lunch, into the walker, swing, or bouncer…etc…etc. See this post here from Starfish Therapies for more about this “container shuffle”, as they call it (baby shuffles from one container to the next)

 

Ok… So How much physical activity do children under 5 years old need to do to keep healthy?
The NHS writes that it is important for babies and infants to be physically active every day for healthy growth and development.

 

 

 

Babies

Babies should be encouraged to be active from birth. Before your baby begins to crawl, encourage them to be physically active by reaching and grasping, pulling and pushing, moving their head, body and limbs during daily routines, and during supervised floor play, including tummy time. Once babies can move around, encourage them to be as active as possible in a safe, supervised and nurturing play environment. For more ideas, see Keeping kids active.

 

 

Toddlers

Children who can walk on their own should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (3 hours). This should be spread throughout the day, indoors or outside. The 180 minutes can include light activity such as standing up, moving around, rolling and playing, as well as more energetic activity like skipping, hopping, running and jumping. Active play, such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games and ball games, is the best way for this age group to be physically active.

 

 

All children under 5 years old

Children under 5 should not be inactive for long periods, except when they’re asleep. Watching TV, travelling by car, bus or train or being strapped into a buggy for long periods are not good for a child’s health and development

 

Hah – don’t think my Little Lovely would qualify as being inactive for long periods, he is far too busy exploring and needing to pick up everything he sees to be doing that.

There are also two nicely set out downloads of Physical Activity Guidelines for under 5s who are not yet walking here, and under 5s capable of walking here.

 

Examples of physical activity for children who are not yet walking includes:
  • Have a Tummy Fun Time

    Tummy Time Baby

    ‘Tummy time’ – this includes any time spent on the stomach including rolling and playing on the floor
  • Reaching for and grasping objects, pulling, pushing and playing with other people
  • ‘Parent and baby’ swim sessions

 

 

What are the benefits of movement?
• Develops motor skills
• Improves cognitive development
• Contributes to a healthy weight
• Enhances bone and muscular development
• Supports learning of social skills

What are the benefits of being active for at least 180 minutes each day?
• Improves cardiovascular health
• Contributes to a healthy weight
• Improves bone health
• Supports learning of social skills
• Develops movement and co-ordination

⇒ Sounds good, so let’s get physical, then!

Simple colour match activity idea for baby and toddler

Simple colour match activity idea for baby and toddler

A quick & easy colour match activity to try with baby and toddler, use existing items around the house. baby-brain.co.uk

Colour match activity idea: Easy and quick to set up

I Just set this up for the Little Lovely to play with tomorrow morning.

At 10.5 months he’s probably a bit young for colour matching (I think, but let’s see what he does tomorrow), but we will:

  • talk about the colours

  • and I’ll demonstrate (model) sorting them

I think these will be important aspects if the kid is a bit too young to sort the colours themselves → Learning through observation (vicarious learning), and also the social and fun aspects of doing it this way will be important.

Other things he might get from this activity: Motor skill development, sensory play (items have different textures and functions), exploration, learning about colours.

 

Materials:

I used things that I already had about the house for this. The items are:

Blue: wooden round shapes, dolphin bath toy, a large lid from fridge pack of baked beans, linky loop, and a small plastic baby food pot

Green: crab bath toy, rattle, linky loop, and gum massager stick for teething

Pink: ball, wooden triangle shape, measuring spoon, and a roller with Velcro texture.

They are sitting on two pieces of LL’s clothing (blue vest and green jumper), and one of his toys (child safe mirror turned face down).

 

….. Hope he enjoys it!

Practising that pincer grasp and fine motor skill development – with raisins!

developing pincer grasp and fine motor skills by grasping raisins, for baby.

Fine motor skill and pincer grasp practice for baby – with raisins

So we were eating snacks today, and LL (aged just over 10 months) always wants to eat what you’re eating if you eat in front of him. I was eating jaffa cakes and so decided he probably shouldn’t have these because they are covered in chocolate and quite sugary.

I gave him some nice organic raisins instead (still have sugar in them, I suppose, but natural sugars?). I put them in a plastic tub for him to fish out and practice his fine motor skills. This was probably a good activity to help him practice his “pincer grasp” as well. Here’s some pictures. He seemed to like the raisins

 

developing pincer grasp and fine motor skills by grasping raisins, for baby.

Baby enjoying his raisins, pincer grasp and fine motor skill development

 

 

 

 

first (assisted) steps

The Little Lovely took his first assisted steps this evening! He’s getting quite good at standing up now, with some assistance or by holding onto something. Once standing and holding my hands he can be encouraged to take a few steps. Well done LL! (He’s just over 9 months)

Psychological research: winter babies crawl earlier than summer babies

Psychological research paper: are there differences in crawling age between winter and summer babies? baby-brain.co.uk. Psychological perspective, resource and blog on motherhood

Crawling baby

Psychological research paper: I saw this paper here, about crawling, thought it looked interesting:

Babies Born in the Winter Start Crawling Earlier Than Those Born in the Summer

Study shows a seasonal effect on the pace of motor development in babies

 

Babies born between December and May (“winter” babies) were found to start to crawl earlier compared to those born between June and November (“summer” babies – although November is bit a bit winter-ish if you ask me, but hey-ho). The study involved motor observations at home when babies were 7 months old, and following the babies up when they started crawling. Parents were also asked to record the stages in their babies’ development.

The average age at which the babies started crawling was 31 weeks. But while the babies born in the winter (who started to crawl in the summer) started to crawl at an average 30 weeks, those born in the summer (who started to crawl in the winter) began crawling at an average of 35 weeks, with no differences noted between the boys or the girls or in the initial style of crawling (belly crawling or using hands and knees).

They also used a measure that assessed 4 different positions: Prone (on the stomach), supine (on the back), sitting, and standing – the overall scores the babies got on this assessment was higher for winter babies, but, there were no significant differences in scores between the winter and summer babies on the scores for the supine position, sitting, or standing.

So what do the researchers conclude?

According to the researchers, the findings strengthen the assumption that there is a window of opportunity for starting to crawl and stress the effect of the season on the start of crawling.

The current study took place in Israel. They talk about the seasonal effect because other studies where there is quite a difference between seasons have found similiar results, e.g. in Denver, Colorado and Osaka, Japan. But, but a study that took place in Alberta, Canada, didn’t find any seasonal effect. Despite winters being “long and cold” there, the researchers write that the environment in the house is very similar all year round because of winter heating.

They write:

“Although the winter in Israel is comparatively mild…. it turns out that it nonetheless influences the motor development of babies because of the differences between summer and winter in Israel,”

⇒ So why does season and seasonal effects seem to be relevant to when babies start to crawl?

The study notes that:

“The season influences the babies’ experiences in a number of ways, including

  • layers of clothing that are worn

  • the opportunities babies are given to spend on the floor on their stomachs, and,

  • the hours of activity and daylight

Awareness of the seasonal effect is important so that parents will give their babies proper movement and development opportunities in the winter as well,” 

Ooooh I see, so it’s not necessarily anything inherent about winter vs summer children, but about environmental factors and what is going on in the baby’s home and environment when they are developing and reaching the age that they might start to develop crawling skills.

Those born in winter will approach crawling ready age in spring/summer where there might be more opportunities to go out, have more hours of day light in which in play, less restrictive or thick clothing on so that they can practice movement more freely, etc.

Baby Play Gyms

I wanted to include things like play gyms and other apparatus, but wasn’t sure what category to put them under! I suppose they could come under sensory play, but also involve motor skills and creative play, to name a few. So here are some miscellaneous play elements:

 

Baby play gyms - developmental benefits

LL in his play gym

— Play Gyms — 

I was fortunate to be given a play gym from a friend with a one year old who had two play gyms and didn’t need one any more. She also didn’t want it back because they had a lot of baby stuff, so that was very nice. I don’t know if I would have bought one, or maybe I would have bought one a lot later and I think I would have really missed out. I got it when the Little Lovely (LL) was probably only a couple of months old and I have to say it’s been a GREAT piece of equipment. We hang lots of different toys from it, and alternate the toys. At 5 months he can usually knock or pull most of the toys down, but still seems to enjoy it. At earlier stages he was just lightly batting at toys in an uncoordinated manner, then grabbing, then grabbing with both hands, then trying to stuff them in his mouth. I really hope it’s aided his development in terms of sight, motor skills, been FUN and also importantly, for me, occupied him for a little while meaning that I could go do stuff like eat my breakfast!! (Something that was not possible for the first few weeks, or longer).

 

concentrated bapping - bap bap
concentrated bapping – bap bap
Our gym now has lots of stuff attached to it. It wasn’t always so complicated looking and we started with just one or two hanging toys that jingled when they moved.
From doing some brief research, gyms do indeed have developmental benefits: here is an article by “Mama OT” (a paediatric occupational therapist) on the Developmental Benefits of Using a Baby Play Gym. The article outlines some of the cognitive, visual perception, grasping and reaching skills, gross motor skills, self-awareness and sensory stimulation benefits of play gyms. 

 

s he crossing the midline? reaching for a toy on opposite side of body

Is he crossing the midline? reaching for a toy on opposite side of body

What I found of particular interest in the article was about gyms facilitating baby’s skills in bringing their two hands together at the midline of their body, such as while holding or reaching for a toy on the gym and therefore reaching across the midline of their body. Think of the midline as an invisible vertical line that runs down the middle of the body. Crossing the midline would involve touching one side of your body with the other, for example when you scratch your left ear with your right hand. I remember the occupational therapist that ran the baby massage classes I went to with LL talking about this and some of the exercises we did where LL “crossed the midline” by touching his left hand to his right foot and vice versa while singing a little song about a cheeky monkey.

 

The article writes that crossing the midline activity strengthens the Corpus Callosum (structure in middle of the brain involved in communication between left and right hemispheres), and is significant in learning to crawl and development of bilateral skills (using both sides of the body at the same time, e.g. using both hands together). Of course, other activities also help baby practice crossing the midline, like play and activities that we picked up at baby massage. Here’s a link to further information on crossing the midline with children.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...