Elementary-Age Children, Developmental Skills, and Music

Elementary-Age Children are Continuing to Develop Skills

Elementary-age children are continuing to grow and develop into their own unique, individual beings. Not only do they build upon the skills gained during their early childhood educational experience, but they also learn skills that will help them to learn and better function in life. In the following video, I share a bit about what these skills are and how music can help elementary-age children develop them.

A Closer Look at Some of These Skills

Now let’s take a closer look at some of these skills that elementary-age children are developing and how music can help in that development.

Developing Self-Mastery Skills

During the elementary school years, children are still developing self-mastery skills. These skills will help them succeed in a school setting where they are expected to learn. In order to effectively learn in the classroom, it’s necessary that a child be able to practice self-control.

There’s a time and a place for play, and a time and a place for learning. In the classroom, it’s important that a child be able to focus and pay attention. This can be difficult to do, however, if the child feels out of control in their emotions.

Such feelings can be related to a variety of factors. The relationships children find themselves in at school are different than those they have at home. The expectations and demands may be higher. They may become angry or triggered by something said by a friend or a teacher. Their relationships at home may be less than ideal.

How Music Helps Develop These Skills

Music can help them with this in a variety of ways. Songs can be used to help develop social-emotional skills so that children can better understand their emotions and how to get along with others. As well, making music and moving to music can encourage them to safely express their emotions.

The elements of music itself can be used to develop attention and focus. This includes tempo (the speed of the music), dynamics (the loudness of the music), timbre (the character of the musical sounds), and rhythm. All of these things help to make music engaging and captivating.

For example, in my own work with elementary-age children, I like to take play with dramatic pauses and tempo along with specific instructions. I do this to see who’s ready to continue or to see who is following along with my instructions. Inevitably, there are some who may think they know what’s coming next, as well as those who can’t seem to stop themselves.

Furthermore, playing an instrument helps develop discipline and resilience. Sometimes it’s not easy playing an instrument. The sound that your child creates doesn’t sound like what they heard in their mind. Or maybe their fingers don’t do what they want them to do. Maybe their brain is working really hard to make sense out of what needs to be done in order to play.

Yet, they persevere. They continue on. The more they practice, the more they hear improvement because they kept at it. That resilience and discipline can transfer over into other realms of their life.

Fine and Gross Motor Skills

Younger children at this stage are also continuing to develop their fine and gross motor skills. However, older children may have issues with these skills if they have a neurological or developmental condition. As well, some children may have limited access to safe places to run and play around, write or draw, or play an instrument. This is why it’s important for children at this time to have ample access to recess and electives like physical education, music, and art.

How Music Helps Develop These Skills

Again, music can help develop these skills by engaging with music in different ways. For example, moving along to music fosters gross motor skills, as does singing songs that incorporate large movements. Whereas playing an instrument helps develop fine motor skills. This is a need I see a lot when working with children who want to learn how to play the piano and the guitar because of how much strength and dexterity it takes to press down the keys or the strings.

Learning Academic Skills

An elementary-age child has written on a blackboard, "Learning is not just for school, but for life."

Lastly, another skill that music can help develop in elementary-age children is simply learning academic skills. As I mention in the video above, music can serve as a mnemonic device that can help children remember information. The Alphabet Song may be among the most well-known of musical mnemonic devices, but there’s lots of different information that can be put to music, as you’ll find by searching “Music Mnemonics” on YouTube.

Questions or Concerns About Your Elementary-Age Child? Let’s Talk!

So these are just a few of the skills your elementary-age child is developing at this time, along with a few ways that music can support this development. If you’re a parent with concerns about how your elementary-age child is developing and you want to see how music therapy might help them, contact me. I’d love to see if music therapy can help your child be successful in school and in life.

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