Movement and Music are a child’s first language
Long before the emergence of intelligible speech, babies communicate using a combination of gesture and song, mime and mimicry. The cooing and babbling of the infant comprises, melody, rhythm and phrasing, which is able to convey mood, intention and even desires. These early components of non-verbal language will support up to 90% of effective communication later on.
In the first three years of life a child must learn to “tune in” to the sounds of its mother tongue. The lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs of every culture carry the tones and inflections of speech, and are much easier to detect because, music – songs particularly – naturally slow down the sounds of speech. The more children are able to hear, differentiate between sounds, imitate and practice the sounds of language, the better their speech tends to become.
While “motherese” – the special sing-song speech that mothers naturally use with small babies – has been shown to be more effective in developing children’s speech, later on vocabulary does not necessarily need to be oversimplified. Children who are exposed to a rich vocabulary and are able to practise the sounds of speech from an early age tend to develop better language skills. The stories are written with this rich vocabulary in mind.
Speech is not just about language but is also a product of motor development. To be “ready” for school, children need to have adequate control of balance and posture (needed to sit still), coordination (to control a writing instrument) and eye movements (to support reading). These motor skills develop in the context of physical and social engagement in the early years.
The suggested movements that accompany the narrated stories take children “back in time” to replicate in a developmental sequence the movement patterns of early childhood that provide the neurological and physical building blocks for control posture, balance and coordination.
The stories and movement patterns in the book and on the accompanying CD are designed to be used together. Ask the child to imagine they are the character in the story and to try the exercise in slow motion several times, before repeating a little more quickly. If children have difficulty you can spend more time on the first movements so they develop fluency before moving on.
This book is written for both parents and practitioners working with young children. It gives a useful overview of a variety of theoretic perspectives demonstrating the links between movement and language, including links to neuroscience. It reminds readers of the importance of seeing children as individuals, recognising and understanding how children develop and how to support development and learning. The book comes with two CDs and examples of activities to support 'music and movement' through play that can be used by both parents and practitioners in early years settings. - Rosalind Millam, Quality Assurance Officer, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY)
Christopher the Caterpillar
Lie on the tummy.
Curl up into a ball and then stretch out.
Repeat two or three times.
Curl up again.
Lie on the tummy with legs straight, arms resting by the sides, head in the centre resting on the forearms.
Slowly tip the head up a little way until the back of the head in is line with the body.
Slowly lower the head to the ground so that the forehead is resting on the floor again.
Movement: Your Child’s First Language provides explanations and activities to answer and address the questions of:
- Why is movement essential for healthy brain development and learning?
- What are neonatal reflexes? What is their purpose and how do they influence development?
- Why is music a precursor to language?
- What are some of the dangers of speeding up childhood in the digital age?
- What are the vital components of physical and social engagement?
- What is the difference between real human interaction and entertainment provided by electronic media?
- Are you sitting comfortably? Only then is it time to begin.
About the author
Sally Goddard Blythe MSc. (Psych) is Director of The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester and author of eight books on child development. She specialises in the assessment and remediation of underlying physical factors contributing to under-achievement in the classroom. Other books on early years include The Well Balanced Child, Raising Happy Healthy Children, The Genius of Natural Childhood and Attention Balance and Coordination – the A B C of Learning Success.
@INPPLtd - www.inpp.org.uk
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