Adrienne M. Randall

Adrienne M. Randall

Have you ever noticed how a young child feels the music in their environment?

Infancy and early childhood is a wonderful time to inspire a child’s musical spontaneity, to encourage their natural inclination to sing, move and play with sound.

Music inspires creative movement. Some music has a calming effect. It fosters listening skills. Through music children can learn about patterns. Through singing children learn rhymes and new vocabulary. You can listen to, sing with and move to music.

Even if you aren’t a professional musician, there are many ways to integrate music into your child’s life, which will have long-lasting benefits.

Here are some ideas:

— Sing softly to infants while holding them in your arms and walk around or rock in a rocking chair. Making eye contact whenever possible is essential.

While holding your baby, move to the beat of any song you like.

Toddlers love repetition! Nursery rhymes are predictable and fun to sing.

Preschoolers love to sing the same songs over and over. Try mixing up the words to see if your child catches it. Most likely, he or she will.

Make up silly songs to tunes your child already knows, like Old MacDonald or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

There’s no need to purchase instruments, just take some pots and pans out of the cupboard.

If that’s too noisy, look around for other household items. All you need is a little bit of creativity.

Remember songs that include movement, such as “Ten Little Monkeys” and “The Wheels on the Bus.” These are great for many areas of development.

Don’t worry if you happen to sing off-key; children don’t mind, if they even notice. Some studies indicate that early exposure to music, along with parent or caregiver interaction, may boost communication skills. Your baby may smile more and perhaps be easier to soothe when upset.

Babies are born to interact, so the more we learn about the benefits of music and how to have an environment enriched with music, the more beneficial it will be for the whole family.

If you or someone you know is pregnant or has a newborn at home and would like information about the Teen and Young Parent Program or Maine Families home visiting program, call 594-1980 or toll-free within Maine at 1-(877) 972-5804.

Enrollment takes place prenatally and up until the baby turns three months old. Parent Education Professionals use the Parents as Teachers™ curriculum to provide enrolled families with research-based, up-to-date information on subjects such as fine and gross motor development, eating healthy, social/emotional development and much more.

The Teen and Young Parent Program and Maine Families of Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties are proud to be affiliated with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

In complying with the letter and spirit of applicable laws and in pursuing its own goals of diversity, the University of Maine System does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation — including transgender status and gender expression — national origin, citizenship status, age, disability or veterans’ status in employment, education and all other areas of the university.

The university provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request.

ADRIENNE M. RANDALL is community education assistantat the University of Maine Cooperative Extension for Knox and Lincoln counties in Rockland.

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