Music and your toddler or preschooler

piano and kidsToddlers and preschoolers have lots to gain from listening to music. It’s fun, for one thing, and it also encourages movement, which is important for young children who are perfecting their motor skills. “Kids learn through movement,” says Rosalie Pratt, a professor of music medicine at Brigham Young University. “When you see them at play, they’re not talking, they’re moving. This is how they pick things up.”

Music helps you bond with your child, too. It will move you to dance a jig or belt out a tune, much to the thrill of your little one. Imagine the joy you’ll share swaying to the beat of a lovely melody (try Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”). Or how much fun he’ll have jumping with you in an energetic musical number (“The Chicken Dance” will leave you rolling on the floor with laughter).

Some experts go so far as to say that exposure to music makes children smarter, but hardly any data exists to validate this point. “The science is in its infancy,” says Gordon Shaw, a physics professor and neuroscience who studies music and brain development at the University of California at Irvine.