Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 12-18: Celebrate the Week of the Young Child

These two preschoolers play their first musical instruments in the Child Development and Family Studies Center at Mississippi State University

Music Monday will kick off the Week of the Young Child, April 12-18.

Families and child care centers across the nation will celebrate this special week through music, food, art and sharing. The National Association for the Education of Young Children established the annual celebration of early learning.

Louise Davis, director of the Early Years Network at Mississippi State University, identified the social-emotional connections made through music.

“Whether it’s singing to infants, playing music during transition time with toddlers or allowing preschool children to create music together and explore how different instruments work, the connection between music and feelings is clear,” Davis said. “Young children can learn to calm themselves and play together through the use of music.”

Critical thinking and language development are also enhanced by early exposure to music.

“Babies often start using hand motions to songs they have heard repeatedly even before they begin to speak,” Davis said. “This is because of the impression the music makes on the youngest of our children.”

“Toddlers and preschoolers can learn rhythm and pattern recognition from simple, repetitive songs such as ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ or ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” said Chad Allgood, associate director of the network. “Rhythm makes it easier for children to learn new words and phrases later.”

Physically, moving to music offers many benefits to growing children.

“Besides the health benefits of staying active, swaying babies to music can calm them,” Allgood said. “Toddlers and preschoolers can learn songs to further their understanding of body parts, such as ‘Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ and the ‘Hokey Pokey.’”

Music also encourages creative movement and brain development.

Music Monday is followed by Taco Tuesday, Work Together Wednesday, Artsy Thursday and Family Friday. For more information and ideas for making the most of the Week of the Young Child celebration, visit http://www.naeyc.org/woyc.

The Early Years Network is a program of the MSU Extension Service and receives funding from the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Early Childhood Care and Development to provide early care and education programs and materials for teachers, directors, children and families to improve the well-being of Mississippi’s children.

By Amy Barefield
MSU School of Human Sciences

Contact: Dr. Louise Davis, 662-325-3083