STEAM in Early Years: The Benefits of Music on Children's Wellbeing
Using music as a tool to support development and wellbeing in the early years setting can have social, physical, and emotional benefits for children.
Portobello Institute BA (Hons) and MA Early Childhood Studies graduate, Sharon McCready, has researched the benefits of music and the cognitive development of children in the early years classroom.
Sharon has gained valuable insights and practical experience in using music as a key tool for well-being in her setting, Cedar Montessori, in South County Dublin which caters to up to 66 children daily.
She presented her findings alongside Dr. Judith Butler at our early years webinar series last year, you can rewatch it here.
"During my research, I found that using music has far-reaching benefits for children in the early years setting. It supports physical, emotional, social, and spiritual development.
“We bring music in to alter the mood, we can create a calm and relaxing environment or if we want to be goofy we can have lots of fun and ramp up the energy.
“We use music to provide secure routines for the children. We all know that children love routines so when we come in in the morning, we have our good morning song, so they all know, and we use it to flag transitions too.
“We use it because we know the majority of children on any given day will respond really positively to music, it’s a shared experience then and something they all enjoy together, even if they’re not feeling it, they can sit back and relax and they can watch all their friends having fun which builds a strong sense of identity and belonging within their group.
“It prepares an inclusive space for them, so it doesn't matter what their language is, it doesn’t matter what their cultural background is because music is a universal language, it doesn’t recognise difference. We use it to create that lovely inclusive space where everybody can join in.
“We also recognise that there is a lot of passive learning that goes on, they are learning to count, listening skills, with ‘Simon Says’ they have to listen and respond to what they hear so it develops various skills and improves their attention. For teaching them things like the planets, all the children who leave here know all eight planets and they know that through music.
“It offers huge opportunities for self-expression and being creative. They can literally be all over the place, lying on the floor, feet in the air, jumping, dancing, they can be tranquil, or calm.
"You can use it for promoting a lot of physical activity which we all know is hugely beneficial for children at that age.
“We use it as a tool to support and promote movement and this is linked to their overall wellbeing because it helps to develop their fine and gross motor skills and if they are moving and being physically active that helps to develop strong bones and muscles.
“It helps them to concentrate on the various songs when they must recognise a stop, start, middle, or end. It builds social and emotional skills because they are all together building their identity and belonging and it lets them be energetic and have lots of fun,” she said.
Sharon has found that all of these benefits of the use of music in the early years classroom contribute to the overall well-being of the children.
Music is part of STEAM education which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths.
Music comes under the Arts and Portobello Institute is focused on developing the ways we can integrate STEAM into the early years setting.
Portobello Institute is the leading provider of early years education in Ireland with 40 years of experience.