Why Offer a Music & Movement Program?

When I began planning for Summer Reading 2014, I was determined to offer more programs for babies and toddlers. This age group can be tricky to plan for, because  even those children who are close in age might be at very different developmental stages. When someone mentioned a music and movement program, I seized the idea. Music and movement are important at every stage of a child’s development, and can be made applicable for children who are at different stages. While there are a few businesses in the area that offer these types of programs, I found that they are often expensive. I believe that libraries are well positioned to provide access to music and movement programs for children. As children’s librarians we already sing, clap, and engage in dramatic play through action rhymes in our storytimes. I don’t claim to be a music educator, just as I don’t claim to be a school teacher, but I do think that, as librarians, we can instill in children a love of music in much the same way that we encourage a love of reading.

Not convinced yet?

Research shows that “movement education is basic physical education that emphasizes fundamental motor skills and concepts such as body and spatial awareness, but that it is also a philosophy of physical education in that it is success-oriented, child-centered, and non-competitive”  (Pica). Perhaps the most important reason for offering a movement class is to develop gross motor skills. In addition to their physical development, “when children feel good about their movement abilities, they are more likely to make physical activity part of their lives,” which is essential for their overall physical fitness and health (Pica).

Benefits to Movement

  • There are many obvious physical benefits to movement, including cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
  • Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight (letsmove.gov)
  • Social/Emotional: Movement helps children unleash creativity  through physical expression like dance. Certain games and activities can teach them cooperation and help them work together with peers and adults.
  • Movement also helps children develop cognitively; “studies have proven that they especially acquire knowledge experientially—through play, experimentation, exploration, and discovery.  Though a developmentally appropriate movement program, instructors can help nurture the bodily/kinesthetic intelligence possessed in varying degrees, by all children” (Pica).

Benefits of Music

  • Music is vital to the development of language and listening skills.
  • Music and language arts both consist of symbols and ideas; when the two are used in combination, abstract concepts become more concrete. (National Association for Music Education)
  • Music engages the brain, stimulating neural pathways that are associated with higher forms of intelligence such as empathy and mathematics (National Association for Music Education)
  • Music’s melody and rhythmic patterns help develop memory; who among us learned their letters without singing the ABC song?

Factors for Planning

When you are planning your music and movement program, keep in mind the following considerations. Activities should be:

  1. Developmental appropriateness
  2. Age appropriateness
    1. Physical
    2. Social/emotional
    3. Cognitive
  3. Individual appropriateness
  4. Social/cultural appropriateness (Pica),

As I said, I don’t claim to be an expert, but if you’re looking for ideas for music and movement programs, I’ll be posting about the one I’m running, very soon!

Resources for Music and Movement Education

  1. Pica, R., & Pica, R. (2010). Experiences in movement & music: Birth to age 8. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
  2. Early Childhood Music and Movement Association
  3. letsmove.gov
  4. National Association for Music Education
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