Thanks to the steady beat of our hearts, we are created to respond to a steady beat. It’s probably why we can’t help but tap our feet or nod our heads along to the beat of the music we hear.
The ability to consciously recognize and demonstrate steady beat, however, takes practice. In our early childhood music classes and early childhood curriculum, we help young children, including at-risk students, to develop steady beat by leading children to move their bodies to a beat, play instruments, clap their hands, or even walk, jump, and tiptoe to a steady beat.
4 reasons why steady beat matters in early childhood education
- Steady beat competency impacts gross- and fine-motor skills. The ability to keep a steady beat helps children walk with a steady gait, run, pedal a bicycle, dribble a ball, and even use scissors and write smoothly.
- Being able to keep a steady beat correlates to early math abilities. In an early childhood curriculum that uses music, children experience patterns in the beats, rhythms, and melodies of the music and also through movement and playing instruments. Repeating the steady beat heard in a musical piece helps children identify and repeat a simple pattern. Pattern recognition is an foundational math concept.
- The ability to move to a steady beat is closely connected to early language and literacy skills. Our brains process music in a similar way to how our brains process language. Children with more musical training, including steady beat, showed increased neural responses to speech sounds in comparison to children with less musical training.
- Children love music. Who loves music? Ask a classroom filled with students—children with special needs, four-year-olds in a state-funded PreK classroom, at-risk students—and every single hand will raise. It’s no wonder that most children learn their ABCs by—you guessed it!—singing the ABC song. Music engages children of all abilities, from all backgrounds, from all languages. And engaged children are learning children!
At-risk students benefit from early childhood music
A new study published in PLOS ONE shows that participating in one year of music classes helps at-risk students in elementary school keep a steady beat. This foundational music skill also impacted the early language and literacy development of these at-risk students. The research team behind the study plans to further investigate how music classes can increase the early language and literacy development of at-risk students.
Our early childhood curriculum, ABC Music & Me, uses music as the vehicle for teaching children of all abilities early language and literacy. ABC Music & Me delivers a 32 percent literacy gain in students, including at-risk students, who participate 30 minutes a week.