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Why music is key to your child’s development Add to ...

Music is an essential part of every child’s development. A great song can often light up their eyes, encourage them to move around and dance, and even help instill a sense of confidence. And it doesn’t end there.

Studies have shown that music can help with language skills, develop fine motor skills and improve one’s overall IQ. Here’s a look at six ways a child can benefit from growing up with music:

1. Music cultivates little learners. Music Matters, a report by U.S. coalition Arts Education Partnership, highlights four key ways music can help children learn: It can enhance fine motor skills, prepare the brain for achievement, boost memory and even improve abstract reasoning. What better reason to make room for that piano?

2. Music might help with their math homework. While Baby Mozart may not be a game-changer, classical music is mathematical. According to parenting resource ParentMap, the many notes and rhythms all create “strong neuro-pathways through musical patterns that later add up to higher math skills.”

3. Music can improve literacy. “The way we process musical sound is the same way we process speech,” says Susan Hallam, a professor of education at University College London. Because of this, children who take music lessons can improve their listening skills and, in turn, improve the way they process language.

4. Music can boost one’s overall IQ. Studies have shown that learning to play an instrument can have a lasting effect. According to Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario, children who took piano lessons for one year – coupled with consistent practice – saw an IQ bump as high as three points.

5. Music inspires a creative spirit. Whether it’s making up the lyrics to songs or dancing wildly to the beat, your children will tap into their inner creative spirit. As the Royal Conservatory of Music explains, there is a “marked difference in inter-hemispheric communication (communication between the right and left sides of the brain) in individuals with musical training.” It is believed this greater connectivity fosters creativity.

6. Music builds confidence. As parents, we want to do everything we can to help boost our children’s confidence. With music, kids can express themselves, improve their skills and practice performing in front of others.

Ready to bring more music home? Here are a few fun ways to add music to your everyday activities:

• Sing your bedtime stories: Belt out classic picture books, such as Five Little Ducks or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

• Make your own musical: When I’m talking to my kids, I often speak in song to make it more fun.

• Play a round of car karaoke: Find a song that everyone can sing along to (and they won’t notice the length of the car ride).

• Add a song to children’s routines: Create fun, silly songs to sing while brushing their teeth, cleaning up their toys and getting dressed for school.

• Try soothing spa music before bed: This will help children relax as they wind down.

• Tour a music store: Head down to your local shop and view the varied instruments.

• Mix it up in the kitchen: Grab a pot and wooden spoon to help them practice drumming a beat.

• Plan a musical outing: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra often hosts symphonies for kids, or visit an opera or family musical.

Health Advisor contributors share their knowledge in fields ranging from fitness to psychology, pediatrics to aging.

Cathy Piedra-McKenzie is an entrepreneur, busy mother of two, and president and CEO of Kidville Canada. You can visit her Facebook page at Kidville Canada and follow her on Twitter @cathy_pm.

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