Unique Ways To Use Music To Enhance Your Child's Learning
Here are some unique ways you can engage your child through music to help him learn better.
By Leena Ghosh
“Where words fail, music speaks” - Hans Christian Andersen
Music is food for the soul and the way of life for many. It’s one language that transcends boundaries and is universally accepted, rejoiced and celebrated. Even children learn to sing the alphabet song before they learn to recite or recognise the alphabet. In fact, it is believed that music has the power to enhance a child’s learning skills.
Researchers believe that music can not only improve a child’s listening abilities, but also help develop linguistic skills. According to a study titled, ‘Music training for the development of auditory skills’, by Nina Kraus and Bharath Chandrasekaran, published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience (August 2010), 'Music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness. Therefore, the role of music in shaping individual development deserves consideration'. The report further explains that, ‘Music training may benefit academic achievement by improving learning skills and listening ability, especially in challenging listening environments’.
Another study published in Scientific Reports (2018) titled, ‘Music playschool enhances children’s linguistic skills’, by Tanja Linnavalli et al suggests that music helps in the development of vocabulary skills of pre-schoolers. The study found that, 'Music playschool significantly improved the development of children’s phoneme processing and vocabulary skills'.
Is listening to music while studying a good idea?
It’s common to see teenagers put on their headphones or switch on their MP3 players as they begin studying. But does music actually improve your child's academic performance?
The answer to this question can be found in the article, ‘Can music help you study and focus?’ published on the website of Northcentral University (ncu.edu). In the article, Dr Masha Godkin, a professor in the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences at Northcentral University, says, “Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximise learning and improve memory.” She further says, “It's good to stick with classical music. One reason this genre works well is that there are no lyrics to distract you. You can also branch out into meditation music, which is ideal for concentration as it is meant to relieve stress and relax your mind.”
Some other ways music aids a child in learning:
- Soothing music alleviates study anxiety and helps the mind relax
- Background music can act as a mood enhancer and motivate a child to study
- Music can help a child focus for a longer time
- In some instances, music can also help a child memorise concepts better
However, there are some cons to studying with music playing in the background.
Some negative impacts of listening to music while studying:
- Listening to music with lyrics can take a child’s focus away from studies, as the lyrics may distract him
- Loud music can have a negative impact on the mood of the child and affect his reading comprehension
- Listening to music may affect a child’s cognitive abilities and hamper his attempt at memorising an ordered list, like elements on the periodic table or a list of facts
Now that you know the pros and cons of listening to music while studying, here are some ways you can use music to enhance your child’s learning.
How music can help your child learn
- Improve memory and recall
Singing nursery rhymes is a favourite activity for most children. It teaches children how to count, to express themselves, to spot different colours and shapes, and much more. The rhymes and the repetition also help children remember concepts better. So, sing along and help your child learn.
- Enhance reading skills
Whether it’s your child’s favourite song or a number you both sing together, write or print out the lyrics of the song on a sheet of paper and ask her to read it. This will help her understand the song better, discover new words and improve her reading comprehension.
- Build the power of concentration
Play soothing, classical music at a low volume when your child sits down to study or do his homework. Research has shown that certain types of music not only help children focus better but also help them grasp concepts more efficiently.
- Help visualisation
When you introduce music to learning, it creates a unique experience for your child. This, in turn, helps her remember the details better. For example, if you are teaching your child about different kinds of fish (freshwater and salt water) play an audio file of a gurgling stream or ocean waves to go along with the lessons. This will help her visualise and remember the facts better.
- Increase motivation to learn
Various studies have suggested a direct link between music and motivation. Listening to the right kind of music helps build a positive mood, which encourages children to learn. Music can also help a child by distracting him from negative and demotivating thoughts. So, if your child is preparing for an exam and has to sit for long periods to study, encourage him to listen to his favourite music to keep himself motivated.
What your child shouldn’t do
If your child wants to get into the habit of studying with the music on, make sure that she doesn’t make the following mistakes.
- Listen to the radio while studying
- Play music too loudly
- Spend too much time creating her perfect playlist
- Become dependent on/addicted to music
Remember, different kinds of music work for different people. While classical music or jazz helps many to focus and memorise better, it might not work for others. So, while you encourage your child to harness the power of music to aid him in learning, also take care that he doesn’t become dependent on it.
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