Language and communication can be a tough challenge for toddlers as they grow in their first few years of life. For parents, it can be tough to understand their child’s level of language comprehension and verbal skills through simple questions. Sometimes, you have to think outside of the box to encourage your child to respond appropriately. With music therapy, you can encourage your child to complete some of these challenging tasks, while also having fun!
Music is a powerful tool that can help people of all ages express themselves, improve their cognitive abilities, and enhance their emotional wellbeing. For toddlers, music therapy can be particularly beneficial, as it can help them develop important skills such as communication, socialization, and self-expression. Let's dive a little deeper into some of the specific ways that group music therapy sessions can benefit toddlers!
Music therapy sessions can be particularly beneficial for toddlers who are still developing their verbal communication skills.
Group music therapy sessions allow toddlers to have an opportunity to engage in social activities with their peers. Toddlers can learn to work together, take turns, and share instruments or materials. They can also learn to follow instructions and engage in group activities, which can help them prepare for social interactions in other contexts, such as in school or with family and friends. Social skills and communication skills often go hand-in-hand. Music therapy sessions can be particularly beneficial for toddlers who are still developing their verbal communication skills. Music can help children develop their listening and imitation skills, and they can learn to communicate through sounds, gestures, and movement. For example, they may learn to clap their hands in response to a beat, or to use a tambourine to create a rhythm.
In one music therapy developmental study, a music therapist sought to explore the benefits of small group music therapy sessions for toddlers over the course of multiple music therapy sessions with participants ranging from 14-28 months of age, studying the developmental speed of these toddlers as assessed through social, communicative, motor, cognitive, and music skills. The results showed that participating in multiple music therapy sessions showed a significant increase in overall developmental processing and skill (Standley, 2009). Some of the most improved skills included sharing with others, following one and two-step directions, playing independently, and responding to their own name and the names of others in the room.
Music can also be a powerful tool for emotional expression and regulation. In a music therapy session, toddlers can learn to identify and express their emotions through music. They may learn to use instruments or movement to express different emotions, or they may learn to listen to and identify different emotional tones in music. This can help them develop emotional awareness and regulation skills, which can be helpful in managing stress or difficult emotions.
Music therapy sessions can also be beneficial for a toddler’s physical development. Engaging in musical activities such as dancing or playing instruments can help children develop their gross and fine motor skills, coordination, and balance. In music therapy sessions, your child might learn how to wrap their fingers around a mallet and hold onto it, open their fingers and palms to hit a drum, or move their legs as they march around the room to a favorite song.
Group music therapy sessions can provide a fun and engaging way for toddlers to develop important skills and improve their overall wellbeing. Whether it's through singing, dancing, or playing instruments, music can be a powerful tool for promoting socialization, communication, cognitive development, emotional wellbeing, and physical development in young children.