Benefits of teaching children through music -®
Music today for a better tomorrow
Benefits of teaching children through music

By Galina Zenin, Music & Early Childhood Consultant

According to research, provided by BeyondBlue, "…Three million Australians are living with anxiety or depression and one in four young Australians have a mental health condition".(Beyondblue: The National Depression Initiative).

The first five years of a child's life are the most crucial, so how can we promote and teach children about health and wellbeing, help them to be positive, happy and find their purpose in this world of rapid change? How should we teach children today, so they are better prepared for tomorrow?

I caught a train in the city and was on my way home after another interstate trip. I felt excited and couldn't wait to see my children and my family. Since I was a little girl, I loved trains and remember the time when I was traveling from Moscow overnight to see my grandma. It was the best.

It was nearly 6pm in Melbourne and the train was busy with people coming back home… Suddenly, I heard a tiny voice: "Daddy, my kinder teacher said that we need to eat fruit and healthy things". "That's right", said the father while checking his mobile phone. I looked at the girl and smiled. She was standing on her knees looking out of the window. Her head was moving from side to side as she was following the cars, other trains and her eyes were alive with excitement. Then she continued her conversation. "She also said, that carrots are good for my eyes". "That's right", the father replied again and continued checking his messages. The girl's young toddler sister was sitting in a pram watching something on her iPad.

The girl started singing softly and then she said: "Today I was playing with Tessa and we made a long tower". "That's good", said the father. After a few minutes the girl sat next to her sister and said: "Daddy, can I have my phone please?"

Fifty minutes passed. My stop was next. Both girls and their father were still sitting deeply engaged with their own devices.

Today's world is different. Tomorrow it will be even more so…

As the world becomes more and more technologically advanced, it becomes obvious that within the next five to ten years, our world will change dramatically as well as our economy. Many jobs and occupations will disappear or will be replaced with new opportunities, opportunities which don't even exist yet. The children who are growing now will be creators of our future and will need to develop a range of skills, which allow them to succeed in life on different levels.

It's no secret that many of us have crazy schedules and stressful long days, so when children are 'busy learning' and occupied, the parents can get on with their housework and other 'adult' tasks. It becomes the norm to see a toddler or a young child on a laptop, iPod, iPad, iPhone everywhere and a vast majority of parents are proud that their children are 'developing' while playing 'educational games' on their devices.

Many families truly believe that their children benefit from early access to technology and underestimate the lack of building foundation, which is crucial for their future. Some parents even say that it's necessary for a child to grow in time with technology, to learn how to navigate and find their way around it.

I am not against technology and have to admit that I spend a lot of time myself working, writing, checking, googling, posting, blogging and so on. But today, I would like to raise a few questions about our future, the future of young children, and especially the children between one and five years of age.

So, my first question is: 'What is the main purpose of education?'

I personally believe that the main purpose of education is to help children to find their purpose in life. And if we look much deeper into this question, the answer would be as simple as the words of the great Dalai Lama: "The Purpose of our lives is to be happy".

The next question that comes to my mind is: 'How should we teach children today so they are better prepared for tomorrow?'

Recent studies show, that: "One in six children have a diagnosed developmental disability, one in six are obese, and 14.3% have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder. Diagnoses of ADHD, autism, coordination disorder, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders can be causally linked to technology overuse and are increasing at an alarming rate.

As children are connecting more and more to technology, society is seeing a disconnection from themselves, others and nature. Family over-use of technology is not only gravely affecting early attachment formation, but also having a negative impact on child psychological and behavioural health." (Cris Rowan The Impact of Technology on Child Sensory and Motor Development

The future is exciting, but only if our children will be happy and healthy. The modern world will require not robots, but creative, confident, passionate people, who will be able to identify new opportunities, investigate and create new jobs. The modern economy will require people who have strong identities, multiple intelligences and well-developed verbal and written communication skills. This range of qualities will set these young people apart from others. As a result of this progress - the modern world will require new educational systems and dramatic changes within curriculum and assessment.

And the last, but one of the most important questions: 'How can music help children to be happy, improve their wellbeing and find their purpose in this world of rapid change?'

Music is one of the few activities that involves the use of both sides of the brain, which stimulates creativity, maximises learning and the retention of information. Music connects with children on every level, from the physical to the emotional and intellectual, engaging the whole brain.

There are a huge number of studies that highlight the benefits of music, including researchers from Boston, who concluded that music enhances the ability to generally manage in life. This isn't surprising when you consider the fact that music connects with children on every level, from the physical to the emotional and intellectual, engaging the whole brain.

Music is powerful… Music is magic!

Many educational institutions include minimal music, if at all, but the research is strong - music needs to be on the agenda, specifically in early childhood education where the benefits can be particularly notable for children aged from one to five years.

The Bonkers Beat Music Kinder in Aspendale is passionate about music and the magic it can bring to children's lives and our belief in music as a part of early childhood education is based on science just as much as it is on enjoyment.

To learn more about great benefits for teaching and learning through music, keep your eyes open for our next article 'Great Benefits for Teaching Children Through Music: Music & Brain Development'.

To find out more about the first music kinder in Australia visit the Bonkers Beat website. To share your ideas and views, visit the Bonkers Beat Facebook page.
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