Tuesday, 30 April 2013 00:00


Written by  Amanda Cator
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I was surprised to read in the newspaper recently that "One in five expectant parents is unaware of the need to talk to their baby."  In fact "According to a survey by the National literacy Trust, 19% of parents-to-be believed their child would only benefit from being spoken to from three months old. The survey of 3,000 parents and parents-to-be also found that 5% of expectant parents thought speech & language skills "happen naturally" and they had no role to play in helping them develop."*

The Pre-School Music Association (PRESMA) has known for more than 30 years that encouraging your child to communicate is a brilliant way of helping develop not only their speech & language skills but also their memory, co-ordination, discrimination, concentration, not to mention other skills such as social and emotional expression. 

Unborn babies demonstrate an innate musical potential due to their ability to comprehend sound.  Their auditory pathways are complete by 16 -20 weeks gestation so they spend a long time in the early weeks of their life listening to the natural rhythms of a body:  heartbeat, breathing and hearing the sound of their mother's voice.  

Once born, babies react very specifically to music, they recognise different textures of sound naturally - some react positively to loud, quick music whilst others are clearly more comfortable with quieter songs. They quickly recognise rhythm and changes in rhythm, for example a stop in a song before a tickle.  How useful can that stop be while changing a nappy when you really need your baby to be still?  And when is there a better time to learn to listen than when you are very small?

Unless you can appreciate the qualities of silence it's hard to listen with discrimination.  Listening is a skill that stands you in good stead for a lifetime, but you need specific, quiet spaces to focus and listen, just as you need specific opportunities to practice your talking, running and jumping.  Communication skills, just like any other skills, require practice or you will forget them: "Use them or lose them!" 

In our opinion it is  important to value the simple emotional elements of just being with your baby, of sharing quality time together and having fun.  All too often we are encouraged to educate our children away from home, to leave them to learn amongst their peers at a very early age. 

What PRESMA believes is that parents and carers should get the  opportunity to share experiences, not only in the classes, but later at home and maybe even extend that experience to other family members, creating an atmosphere where learning is fun.  Then, it's not just the children who are learning, but the PARENTS too. 

PRESMA believes that parents and children should be encouraged to join in activities that we might never do at home, not because they are difficult or involve expensive instruments or complicated props, but just because we have never thought of them.  

Carers and children should be encouraged to make their own suggestions, and taking ownership of activities and songs and using them in a different way, eg. making up new words to a familiar tune or adapting a "goodbye" song to "goodnight", is the beginning of learning together, sharing ideas and this is the basis for education in later years.  The sense of achievement, that the child has introduced the carer to something new that is fun for both of them, makes them feel special, valued and important. 


Last modified on Sunday, 13 January 2019 14:22

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