Today I welcome Christine Gora of Kids Music Toys with a guest post about the importance of children learning to listen.
There is so much emphasis today on the visual. Young children are bombarded with visual stimuli through television and DVD. While all of this visual entertainment may have its place and provide parents with some welcome “time-out” relief we have to understand the development of children and the development of their linguistic skills to understand the true effect of the visual and the outcome for our children. Over stimulation of the visual may be detrimental.
From babyhood, children are wired for learning language. This is not visually dependent but aurally dependent. Children naturally listen to their mothers and their immediate family. Through this they learn to speak. In fact at this age the learning of language is totally aural. Visual stimuli provide at best a secondary influence. If the predominant stimuli is visual then some children may have trouble developing language skills, simply because they have been diverted from the aural at a stage that this is critically important. The key is to provide the appropriate aural stimuli that can support language development at the time that this is crucial.
Making children aware of sound and prompting them to listen for specific things can play a pivotal part in their aural development. Musical development is very much akin to linguistic development in that both are dependent on listening and aural skills. Encouraging musical activity can focus children on the aural.
Simple music making can facilitate listening and the awareness of the differences between sounds. Some questions you can ask as you make music are:
- Is that sound long or short?
- Is that a wooden or metallic sound?
- Is it a loud or is it a quiet sound?
- Is it fast or is it slow?
- Is it high or is it low?
Baby musical toys and children’s instruments have a key role to play in providing the interest and stimulation for encouraging music making and its subsequent language development. There are the contrasting sounds of bells and castanets, drums and shakers, xylophones and glockenspiels. All waiting for you to play and have fun with your child. No TV screen is required. Just your hands on contribution and the interaction with your child, always asking questions and seeking a response.
The key factor in all of this is the aural dependence. TV, DVD and such visual elements play no role, just the simple aspect of listening and responding.
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