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I remember as a young child, weaving my way through an arch formed by the hands of two of my playmates chanting ‘in and out the sparkling bluebells,’ or sitting in a circle of friends passing a parcel according to music played by my preschool teacher. Sometimes, my friends and I ran around madly while our mothers or some other grown-up, chanted ‘Fire on the mountain, run, run run.’ The cue was to stop all movement and become as still as statues when the chanting stopped. Whoever continued to run, would be pronounced out! Those times have disappeared forever. Yet, even now the whole arena of music and movement is open to our children. Remember that music and movement are inbuilt in all children. We as parents and caregivers, just have to create an appropriate space for them that is safe and clean. It can be a small area in your own home or a music class with other children of their age.
The best thing about music and movement is that it is not essential to have a beautiful voice or know how to play some sort of musical instrument or be a great dancer. You can just jump about to a popular nursery rhyme or even the whirling sound made by the vacuum cleaner. You can clap according to the rhythm of a song sung by your mother, or even the beat of a popular poem which you know.
Also Read: The Fascinating Connection Between Music And Mathematics
Ask your child to try and balance a square piece of cardboard or a book on her head and tell her to move: she can dance, but the cardboard or book should not fall off. Another game is to copy animal and bird movements. She can be told to flap her wings like a crow, sway like a peacock, waddle like a duck, swim like a fish or flit about like a pretty butterfly weaving in and out of colourful flower beds. An interesting and different game is called ‘Body part dancing challenge.’ You call out ‘Legs!’ and the child has to move using only his legs. Or shout ‘Head!’ and the child can nod his head to a rhythm. Yet another way, is to give the child a lemon or an apple and direct her to toss it from the right hand to the left, hold it on top of her head or at the back.
You can fashion out a drum or trampoline with your little one, using a big round steel or plastic dish. Cover it with glitzy wrapping paper, decorate it with stickers, bows, buttons or anything else you have at home. Grab a big wooden or steel spoon to tap out a beat and you are ready to go! You can get your child to pantomime the characters in her favourite poem or story e.g. ‘The Old Woman Who Lived in A Shoe.’ Allow her to dress up like the old woman and tie up her hair in a bun. She can arrange a few dolls in a row pretending they are children and scold, chase or ladle out soup to them in bowls. You can also make puppets with your children and they can have fun putting up a puppet show for the whole family to watch. This will not only help them in role-play but facilitate finger movements which will prepare them for their writing skills later on.
Also Read: 6 Fun Games To Encourage Your Child To Write
Add colour to your child’s movements in a variety of ways. You can tie satin ribbons of different hues to your child’s wrists, let her wear pretty bangles or wrist bands or give her a hat or cap to wear on her head as she twists and turns.
Music needn’t be loud always. It can be soft and soothing especially at night when the child needs to wind down after the activities of the day or a lively song to which he can hop and jump. He can also march in step to a rhythmic, rousing beat.
Why are music and movement important? You may ask. Not only are we as parents, entertained by our children singing, dancing and skipping but the swaying and hopping too has its benefits. Music increases vocabulary and pronunciation as the child will hear and may repeat some words of a song or poem. The ability to distinguish between the sound of a drum or a vacuum cleaner prepares them for identifying specific sounds in words. It also lays the foundation for phonic skills.
Group dancing to music not only builds up confidence and self-expression but also channelizes energy in creative, productive directions. Children can take turns singing or listening to each other enhancing their powers of social interaction as well as listening skills. At times, a child may find it hard to express his feelings in words. In such instances, music and movement is a positive way to release emotions, since dance and movement have always been a vehicle for communicating messages and unspoken words. Children often find it difficult to answer very simple questions such as us as ‘What did you do in school today?’ or ‘Which activity did you like best in school?’ But they can probably express themselves through song, dance or just movements. Movement and dance also facilitate balance, coordination and control and flexibility of the body.
While encouraging children to sing and dance, never force children to sing and dance. Let them dance by invitation not by force but by enthusiasm. It is also not right to compare them to their playmates. All children are different. Some might bask in the limelight and wait for the applause. Others may be reticent and shy. After watching a few performances by other children, the child might be encouraged to come forward enticed by the non – judgmental atmosphere. He might tap into hidden courage and hop a few steps or mumble a few words of a song or poem with the others.
As parents, you can help your child by creating a positive background – clutter-free, safe and clean for her to move about, recite, sing or dance in abandon. There is nothing more joyful or spontaneous than music and movement to enhance a child’s inborn desire to listen, learn or discover more and more things about this fascinating world he lives in. You can do your bit by humming as you cook, dancing with your whole family or singing a lilting song when you are in the process of putting your little one to bed, thus creating a wonderful and peaceful environment.