Music and Movement Benefits: The Power of the Vestibular System

The vestibular system controls the sense of movement and balance.  From birth to about 15 months, the vestibular system is very active as the child gains a sense of gravity and knowledge of the physical environment through movement.  Rocking, swaying, and movement which rotates the head stimulates the vestibular system, stimulating the brain for new learning.”  – Smart Moves, by Carla Hannaford.

Activating learning through movement

The vestibular system is the “vestibule” or “entryway” for learning into the brain.  By stimulating the vestibular system, we are helping your child’s brain get ready to learn.  By intentionally stimulating the vestibular system during your baby’s early years, your child becomes even more aware of the physical environment through movement.  Research shows that vestibular stimulation is not only tied to “alertness” but also to a child’s language development.

A parent’s insights can give a child an academic advantage

Understanding how children learn in the early years and what activates that learning is vital to understanding how children will learn and progress through school later on, according to developmental psychologist Dr. Katherine Towney.  This is precisely the reason that Kindermusik educators are so fond of sharing the benefits and the reasons for what we do in class.  We believe that parents are children’s first and best teacher, and the more you know and understand about your child, the better learner you can help him/her become.

Why we move, rock, dance, and sway in a Kindermusik class

Here’s a brief of overview of just how we activate the vestibular system – and a child’s learning – in our Kindermusik classes:
Babies:  Using and labeling movements like twisting, swaying, turning, and rocking.
Toddlers:  Helping the children learn to move confidently and creatively on their own – with mom, dad, grandma, or nanny near by, of course.
Preschoolers:  Introducing a whole new vocabulary of movement and joyfully exploring all of those new words and ways to learn.
Big Kids:  Keeping the movement in our feet and whole bodies inspires the children as they are also learning to read, write, and compose music.

The Surprising Movement-Literacy Connection

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At Kindermusik, we’ve said it for years…

Movement and learning go hand in hand.

music and movementThat’s why we found it fascinating that a recent study done in Australian schools identified a direct correlation between young children who engaged in a movement program as they were also being taught to read.  The findings were astounding.  The combination of consistent movement and exercise while being taught to read resulted in the students becoming better learners.  Reading, writing, and fine motor skills improved, and the students were much more focused.  In fact the program was such a huge success that it was implemented in all K5 and 1st grades at Applecross Primary School.
If you want your child to be a better reader, you don’t have to be one of the lucky students who attends Applecross Primary School in Melville, Australia.  You can simply find your local Kindermusik educator and enroll in a Kindermusik class!

“Thinking and learning are anchored by movement.”*

Here are a few of the ways we move in Kindermusik that help our Kindermusik kids be ready – ready for school, ready to read, ready for music lessons, and ready to succeed in life!

  • Expressive movement:  Whether it’s dancing in Daddy’s arms as a baby or learning the steps of a minuet as a big kid, dancing is an important part of self-expression and developing creativity.
  • Synchronized movement:  Bouncing, clapping, stomping, or playing an instrument to a steady beat – first with and then later without Mom’s help.
  • Fingerplays, songs, and chants:  Moving little fingers, hands, and arms is a big part of how we learn through labeling and how fine motor skills – essential for holding a pencil, cutting with scissors, and playing the first notes on a piano – begin to develop.
  • Group dances and circle songs: Simple choreography or moving together as a group provides vital social interactions that also facilitate a sense of community and belonging.
  • Spatial exploration: Exploring the “where” and “how” of movement as it relates to one’s sense of self and relationship to personal and general space is a how the all-important skill of spatial awareness is developed.
* Dr. Carla Hannaford, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head