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How Music and Movement Activities Impact Child Development

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

It’s amazing to see how young children develop–they seem to be able to absorb everything from anything. This is why every activity becomes an opportunity to help children grow, not only cognitively but physically, emotionally, and socially as well.

Music for Brain Development

One of the best ways to boost children’s development is through music and movement. Research done by the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California found that musical experiences in childhood may have a hand in accelerating brain development, specifically in terms of reading skills and language acquisition.

According to the study, children with music training, specifically those who learn to play an instrument, had a more mature auditory pathway and were more accurate in processing sound. This ability leads to accelerated development of language and reading skills, as well as other cognitive abilities.

How about movement? Well, music evokes movement, and movement is one of the ways that children express themselves, especially at an age when they are not that articulate. Creativity and communication through movement also fire up the brain, forming neural pathways to promote further cognitive development.

But that’s not all. Music and movement activities can actually ignite and boost different areas of child development. Here’s how:

Musical Activities Support Physical Development

Musical activities that involve clapping, jumping, and moving different body parts aid in helping young children develop gross motor skills while playing musical instruments and singing along to finger plays improves fine motor skills.

Dance and movement activities also help improve balance, rhythm, flexibility, body awareness, endurance, posture, and coordination in children. When children engage in games and other activities that involve moving with the music, they are exercising different muscle groups and improving their coordination.

Music Fosters Emotional Growth

Music can help children express how they feel and manage their emotions in different ways, such as singing, tapping, clapping, moving from side to side, dancing, and playing a musical instrument. Through experiencing music via listening and making their own music, children recognize and discover what feelings can ‘sound’ like. They identify what songs make them happy, and which ones make them want to jump all around the room and which tunes make them feel sad or just want to be quiet.

Children who participate in musical activities also develop self-esteem, something that they need to face and overcome life’s challenges as they grow older.

Music and Movement Interactions Let Kids Connect Socially

Music also fosters social bonding. Group music activities in preschool and kindergarten let kids engage with peers and help them develop social skills such as communication, cooperation, sharing, and empathy.

Research published in 2010 showed that group music-making among 4-year-old kids increased spontaneous cooperative and helpful behavior compared with other children who participated in a similar play session but without music involved.

Shared musical experiences, such as singing and playing musical instruments together, also helps children overcome shyness. By participating in group activities, especially those that have a common goal (such as singing in the round without making mistakes), children develop a sense of team spirit. And when they learn to play different instruments, children learn to work together and motivate each other to practice. When one makes a mistake, kids learn it’s all right and encourage each other to try again. Knowing they are part of a group that supports them does a lot in giving kids a sense of belonging, which in turn helps them build and nurture social relationships.


As you can see, music and movement activities offer several benefits for children in their early years of development. Music-rich learning and play sessions help kids develop cognitively, physically, emotionally, and socially, so take every opportunity to let your child enjoy music.

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