If I was to ask, “What are the benefits of reading to your child,” you would probably be able to reel off lots of benefits. However, when it comes to music and movement, the answers tend to stall! This can hide some amazing developmental benefits that don’t always think about. As a parent myself, I have always used music and movement at home. How? Well, its quite simple really! I have always sung to my daughter (unfortunately for her I don’t sound like Adele, more like a cat!). We also “move around” – we dance, created shapes with our bodies, act out scenes from cartoons, books, movies and above all had fun!
I work with many Dads on a daily basis through my Music and Movement sessions. We often talk about how they can use what we have done at home to continue to supporting their child’s development. It also helps us bond, and creates time to have fun together!
Start Singing Dad!
“I’m not singing!!” This is something I hear by BOTH mums and dads at times. Or, “I don’t know that one” (song/nursery rhyme). However, it doesn’t have to be anything spectacular! Why not put on a favourite song and sing along? If you need some musical inspiration the Dadvengers Spotify Playlists are full of great songs. The Disney List is a great one to sing with kids!
Singing can be fun, energetic, relaxing, calming and of course lets not forget it can also help with bed time routines. Soothing songs and cuddles can often help our little ones to relax and feel safe. This is a great opportunity for Dads to bond with their children. Especially if it is Dad who goes to work mainly of a day time.
How Singing Helps Every Day Tasks!
Singing when doing every day tasks, gives the task a little bit more excitement and it also helps develop routines. When my daughter was small I used to sing the “lets go and brush our teeth song.”
This musical masterpiece went “lets go and brush our teeth, lets go and brush our teeth, to make them shiny” (sang to the tune of “lets go fly a kite” from Mary Poppins). This song REALLY helped me get through some tough mornings! Those mornings when it would have been a firm “NO” from my sweet child! She started to recognise the song as time to brush her teeth and it took away any frustration with it. It created a fun, positive atmosphere, she learned the song through repetition and it distracted her from not wanting to brush her teeth.
I mentioned this approach to one of the dads in my groups and he decided to make a song for him and his daughter to sing when they drop off mummy at work. This had previously been a heart wrenching experience for the child. But with the new song, it became fun and exciting as they could sing and laugh together when they were dropping mummy off.
Let’s Get Moving!
Dancing, Jumping, walking, hopping, waving, clapping… the movement list is never ending!!
What I have found, is that we can often misjudge the importance of simple activities and the benefits they have. We often think we need to do some massive grand gesture when it comes to movement. Buy loads of interesting toys and instruments, when in fact a pair of socks to wave in the air is a great thing for kids. Some dads feel that mums seem to know how to create “All Singing and Dancing” routines (in literal terms too). In reality, we don’t! And we can feel silly and self-conscious as much as men. But, when you see the joy on your little one’s face you can get swept up in the fun they’re experiencing. Try to put aside how you feel, and focus on them… it might help!
One great way to encourage movement is to move around like animals. You can stretch your arms high like giraffe, prowl gracefully on all fours like a cat or move very quickly like a leopard. By adding animal sounds you are not only teaching them the sound that the animal makes, you are also expanding their vocabulary and setting building blocks that will help them with their speech in the future.
Combine Music and Movement for More Fun!
If you decide to move to music, depending on your choice of tune, music and movement can be energetic exercise or an opportunity to create a nice bonding session for you both. Either way your child will be developing their motor skills, developing body and spatial awareness and also their vocabulary skills.
Why not have a little dance together? Simple games like “Musical Statues” encourage your child to listen and enhance their listening and turn taking skills. Or if your child is a bit older, ask them to listen for a word and give that word an action. For example, “jump every tome the word ‘love’ is said”.
If it is a slower song, you can use this to create a calm, relaxing feeling. Maybe use this opportunity to move around like “slow snails” or even have a cuddle and a slower dance.
Music and Movement at Dad Groups.
We have all heard baby/toddler sessions being referred to as “Mother and Baby groups”. The truth is, after running Music and Movement sessions for more than 4 years now, I have found that lots of dads want to bring their children along to groups, but often they can’t due to work commitments. Or, as said by one Dad, “I used to get nervous in case the baby started to cry and I had all the mums looking at me”. Fewer groups are referring to themselves as “Mother and Baby groups” now. There is a greater understanding that society has changed and it is not just the mums who want to take their children to these groups. Plus there are more and more dad specific baby/toddler sessions popping up.
Music and Movement groups/toddler groups are a great way for dads to bond with their children. You will often find these sessions full of sensory props, instruments and other colouful eye catching things that you may not have at home. Because of that, it adds more entertainment and excitement to the group for your child.
Music and Movement groups can help with the development of social skills – a really important skill children need as they grow. They help children to participate in group work (eg working together using a parachute) and help grow confidence. Dads will get the opportunity to join in with songs and activities. And because there is usually a “leader” of the group, there is structure. This allows everyone to feel like they know what they are doing- taking the pressure away from parents and giving some inspiration for games at home.
For smaller babies, these groups are a great way for Dads to bond with their babies as they often focus on a lot of 1-1 time, listening to slow calm music and really creating a relaxing nurturing environment.
The Benefits of Music and Movement.
Overall, Music and Movement is a great way for Dads to be able to create a special bond with their children. As well as enhancing some of the key development points like social skills, speech and coordination. It is a fantastic way for Dads to build a unique, healthy bond with their children. For the Dads they are teaching their children skills and qualities to last a life time. For the children, they are learning and developing without really knowing… all while having fun… with Dad.
Looking for More…?
If you enjoyed this post and want more ideas of things to do with your kids, we have great blogs on Why It’s Important for Dads to Play With Their Kids More, the importance of Outdoor Play, and a great Dad Chats Live with lots of Great Ideas For Indoor Play. You should definitely check them out!