Twinkle, twinkle little neurons…

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As we become parents we are usually bombarded with so many different activities that we should ‘take up’ with our young babies and children, that sometimes it can be quite overwhelming – according to Caroline Crabbe, general manager at Jo Jingles (www.jojingles.com)

If it isn’t hard enough coping with the day to day challenges of being a parent you are now fretting if your child eats enough, gets enough exercise or is being exposed to the right kind of activities that will help them to develop and grow during the early years.  But there is something you can easily do with your baby or child that doesn’t have to cost lots of money, or take any extra time out of your normal day and it is hugely beneficial to your child’s mental and physical development – right from birth.

What’s the big secret? Well the truth is there isn’t a big secret. Engaging your child right from the moment they are born with music and singing is a wonderful way of strengthening the bond and trust between parent and child, not to mention all of the very real benefits that come from music and movement.

When a baby is born, the neurons in the brain are largely unconnected and exposure to different stimuli helps to develop their neural networks (sounds a bit technical now!) but music really does act as a stimulus to wire up the brain more rapidly and hence, speed up a child’s mental development.  Music can also help significantly with language and speech development in young children.  As babies start the babble in ‘baby-speak’ they are almost picking up building blocks of their own language.  It might sound like gibberish to us but babies will gradually settle on the sounds of their mother tongue starting with simple words like ‘mama’.

Babies will also imitate sounds and make melodic experimentations, and using simple rhythmic patterns and rhymes like those found in traditional nursery rhymes. This will help to develop their ability to make meaningful sounds and eventually, words.  It’s no accident that some of our most famous nursery rhymes contain lots of repetition like Baa, baa, black sheep and Row, row, row the boat for example. So the next time your little one is asking you to sing the same song for the fifteenth time, remember how much it is helping with their speech and communication.  Try singing at home with your child whenever you get the chance, in the bath, while cooking the dinner, changing a nappy or even during a car journey.  You’d be surprised how much difference this will make.

Music is universal, it appeals to all cultures, all ages and all abilities.  The social and emotional benefits which music can provide will also help to encourage self-expression and inspire confidence in your growing child.  Put simply, music is fun; anyone can sing (yes, really!) just remember you aren’t entering the X-Factor, there’s no ‘red buzzer’ to listen out for – it doesn’t matter whether you are the greatest opera singer on the planet, or completely tone deaf and out of tune – just smile and be enthusiastic and your child won’t mind a bit!  Make music and singing part of your daily routine, it’s a really small change that will make a big impact on your child.

About Jo Jingles (www.jojingles.com

Jo Jingles provides music, singing and movement experience classes for babies and pre-school children from three months to five years of age.  With nationwide sessions in more than 700 centres across the UK and Ireland and with over 90 franchisees, Jo Jingles offers well-established, structured classes that are fun, interactive and educational for little ones.

Launched in 1991, Jo Jingles continues to promote learning through music across many of the UK’s nurseries, Sure Start Children’s Centres, playgroups and mother & toddler groups. Jo Jingles Birthday parties and celebrations are also available to book and a range of musical-themed merchandise including toys, CDs and musical instruments can be purchased online at www.jojingles.com.

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