The music and movement sessions at The Neonatal Trust (Canterbury) monthly playgroup focus on the needs of children born prematurely. Short songs, and fast moving segue between activities while following the cues of the children are all recognised by the music specialist as giving the most benefit.
Parents who come to Music and Movement sessions can use this as an active listening and bonding time with their child. At the same time the children are learning valuable social skills – sharing, tidying up, listening and contributing to a group.
Gross and fine motor skills, language and cognitive development are all very important benefits of musical play. The simple exercise of a child following bubbles as they float through the air gives the benefits of eye tracking practice and spatial awareness. Fine motor skills are often defined as the coordination of small muscle movements (usually hand-eye coordination) that enable us to perform a variety of important tasks. Action songs, clapping, holding a stretchy band called a rainbow ring, parachute or instruments all help develop hand, finger and arm muscles. Gross motor skills involve the larger muscles of the body and include activities such as walking, running, jumping and dancing.
Increasing a child’s vocabulary is one of the many benefits of music and movement activities. Words that describe movement are a fundamental part of language. Therefore, to enhance a child’s movement vocabulary is to enhance a child’s overall vocabulary.
At these sessions a very small amount of recorded music is used. Instead parents are encouraged to sing as they play with their children. This gives the advantage of not overloading the children with loud additional stimulation. Children are given the freedom to explore colour, texture and sound with the ability to remove themselves if they become too overwhelmed.
The benefits of music therapy with prematurely born children are still being explored. Music and movement is the next stepping stone in these children’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social development!