WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — If you’ve ever watched toddlers hop, skip, jump and run then you know how much joy those simple activities bring. Developmental psychologists say when you add music and organized movement to that mix you could be working toward pre-school success by helping kids develop critical behavioral skills. Here’s more on how parents can build on those basics.
For these toddlers and their moms, singing, moving, and dancing is one of the high points of the week.
“I just like to see him enjoy himself when we get the drums out you can see his smiley face,” said parent Jois Jenkins.
Lesley Hoye is a licensed director for Music Together, a long-running music and movement program taught in 2,000 communities.
“They’re learning so many things and they don’t even know that they’re learning because it’s fun,” detailed Hoye.
Adam Winsler, PhD, a developmental psychologist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and his colleagues studied how organized music and movement classes for three and four-year-olds’ may be related to ability to control their impulses.
“The hypothesis was that giving children lots of exercise doing this, lots of practice doing these kinds of games with music and movement gives them exercises of the self-regulatory system just like any other muscle in our body, “ explained Winsler.
Researchers recruited 90 children and found those who took music and movement classes were better at delaying gratification, lowering their voices and paying attention.
Winsler told Ivanhoe, “We want them to be able to sit still and follow directions and these are critical skills for school readiness.”
Winsler said parents can look for opportunities outside class to sing and move. Bounce babies on your lap to music, learn a folk dance, or just move and sing at home.
Hoye said, “The kids start to get that routine down. They start to get those instructions and repeat it at home.”
Researchers say the children in this particular study were from mostly middle-class Caucasian families but studies among children from diverse backgrounds have found a link between music and dance and positive social skills and behaviors needed for school success.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.