top of page

The connection between language development and music in young children

More than likely, you’ve heard it before. How singing or listening to music during pregnancy and the early stages of a child’s life will benefit them.

But how exactly?

Research has shown that exposure to language and music at a young age profoundly affects a child's cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development.

Children develop their language skills, vocabulary, and communication abilities through songs, rhymes, and listening to conversations.

Have you ever listened to a song years later, only to find you remember every single word?!

That’s because music stimulates various regions of the brain, improving memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills. It also promotes emotional regulation and social interaction, fostering empathy, cooperation, and self-expression.

In this article, we will explore the significant benefits of blending language and music in early childhood development. We’ll also provide practical tips for incorporating these elements into daily routines.

Join us on this journey to unlock how the power of language and music can shape young minds.

Music to the ears

Besides having a soothing effect on mum-to-be, listening to music during pregnancy has proven to have a positive effect on the unborn child’s brain development.

Unborn babies start to hear sounds around 16-18 weeks. At 24 weeks, they may start turning their head in response to noise. During the last few months of pregnancy, the baby will recognise mum’s voice, her tone, rhythm and word patterns. [Healthshots]

Amazing hey!

During the first few years of life, children go through significant language development milestones.

They start by cooing and babbling, imitating the sounds they hear around them. As they grow older, they begin to understand simple words and gestures.

Mum and baby smiling whilst clapping hands
Image by Freepik

Around the age of one, most children say their first words and start building their vocabulary. By the age of two, they develop the ability to put words together and form basic sentences. As they reach the age of three, their language skills become more advanced, and they engage in more complex conversations.

By understanding these milestones, parents and educators can create an environment that supports and nurtures a child's language development.

What’s the link between language and music?

Language and music are closely intertwined in early childhood development. Both rely on similar cognitive processes and share common elements such as rhythm, melody, and tone.

When children listen to music, they are exposed to a variety of sounds, rhythms, and patterns, which helps them develop their auditory discrimination skills. This, in turn, supports their language development by helping them distinguish between different phonemes and develop a sense of rhythm and tone.

In other words, listening to songs, nursery rhymes, and repetitive word patterns, helps a child build up their own bank of words.

By following along and copying the song’s own rhythm, children will learn how to use rhythm and tone in their own communication. They will begin to understand what tone to ask a question in; how to respond to requests; and identify an individual’s tone of voice.

What’s more, language and music both involve the use of gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to convey meaning and emotion. By engaging in musical activities such as action songs, children learn to interpret and express emotions, which enhances their social and emotional development.

Young girl smiling and dancing with hair bouncing in the air
Image by user15285612 on Freepik

The advantages of introducing music to young minds

Language and music play a crucial role in the development of young children. Even before they are born, infants are exposed to the sounds of language and the rhythm of music.

These experiences shape their brains and lay the foundation for future learning and communication. Language development is vital for children to express their thoughts, emotions, and needs effectively.

It enables them to connect with others and form meaningful relationships.

By embracing language and music in early childhood, we can unlock a world of possibilities for children, fostering their growth and overall well-being.

Research has shown that exposure to music can improve a child's ability to learn and retain information. By engaging with music, children become more attentive and focused, allowing them to absorb and process information more effectively [UNICEF]. Music also stimulates creativity and imagination, fostering a love for arts and self-expression.

How many of us listen to music to relax, to focus, or to escape from the realities of the world around us? Bringing clarity and better performance.

How to introduce music at home

Integrating language and music into daily routines can be a fun and effective way to support a child's development, maximizing their exposure to the beneficial elements we’ve already mentioned.

Simple activities such as singing nursery rhymes, reading books aloud, and engaging in conversations can significantly impact a child's language skills. These activities expose children to different words, sounds, and sentence structures, expanding their vocabulary and language comprehension.

Similarly, incorporating music into daily routines, such as playing background music during playtime or singing songs during bath time, can create a positive and stimulating environment for children.

Here are some practical tips for incorporating language and music into a child's daily routine:

Sing songs: Singing songs with repetitive melodies and rhymes can help children develop language skills and memory. Choose songs with clear, simple lyrics that are easy for children to understand and sing along.

Read aloud: Reading aloud to children exposes them to a wide range of vocabulary, sentence structures, storytelling and tone of voice. Encourage interactive reading by asking questions and engaging in discussions about the book.

Use music to reinforce learning: Incorporate music into educational activities, such as counting songs or alphabet songs. This helps children associate learning with a positive and enjoyable experience, as well as helping them remember the numbers/alphabet etc.

Create a language-rich environment: Surround children with books, magazines, and other reading materials. Label objects in their environment to help them associate words with their corresponding objects.

Encourage conversations: Engage in meaningful conversations with children, asking open-ended questions and encouraging them to express their thoughts and ideas. This helps develop their communication skills and fosters critical thinking.

Illustration of a family listening and dancing to music
Image by upklyak on Freepik

Language and music are powerful tools that can shape young minds and set the stage for lifelong learning and development. By incorporating language and music into early childhood education, we can unlock a child's full potential, enhancing their cognitive, emotional, social, and physical well-being. It also promotes social interaction, fostering empathy, cooperation, and self-expression.

By embracing the power of language and music, we can create a nurturing environment that supports children's overall growth and prepares them for future success.

Through songs, rhymes, conversations, and engaging activities, children can learn numbers, letters, colours, parts of the body etc. in a fun and captivating way. Music stimulates various regions of the brain, improving memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills.

Let's unlock the potential of language and music in early childhood development and watch young minds flourish.


bottom of page