Two-Year-Olds Grow with Music
By Kitti Pecka, Head Teacher, M/W and T/Th afternoon Two’s
One of the most satisfying rewards of teaching 2-year-olds is witnessing their rapid growth. In addition to their physical and kinesthetic development, children’s verbal, social and musical abilities advance in the third year of life at a dizzying speed. Keeping pace with this growth is a challenge for parents and teachers, especially since not all children advance at the same rate. Music offers a solution to this challenge because it can foster each individual child’s verbal, kinesthetic and social skills without overwhelming him or her.
Music is part of our curriculum with young children because it is one of the earliest “intelligences” activated in the developing brain. We can attract children’s attention and help them focus through the use of musical accompaniment. Putting music to the important words we want to convey helps a child retain the words and the context. For example, the “Mulberry Bush” song has been used by mothers and caregivers to let children know that “this is the way” we do an activity.
Music also helps children adjust to a large group activity. With one voice, the children can express themselves in joyful song and movement that truly realizes the feeling of community. Both the vociferous, active child and the quiet one “singing” the words silently feel a sense of accomplishment, increase their vocabulary, and absorb the musical quality of the activity.
The musical qualities we emphasize in this age group are melody, rhythm and the feelings imparted by the words and music. Therefore, the goals are for the children to “think” the tunes (to silently go through the melodies in their heads), feel the rhythms and appreciate the emotional impact of the music.
In addition, musical activities in a group setting impart a common culture. Even children as young as 2 develop a repertoire of songs they love to share with family and friends. Often these songs become a part of their private play, consolidating vocabulary and melodies. Children extend that play to other areas of the brain, and are better able to calm themselves and focus in a way that promotes learning.