Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What the Brain knows: Music and Movement

Why is the Alphabet song the gold standard when we first start to think about kids and reading? According to brain researchers, music opens pathways in the brain and helps develop equilibrium between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. One side is focused on the words of the song while the other is more concerned with the music itself. Music also acts as a stress reliever, calming the mind and setting up ideal conditions for active processing by creating a sense of relaxed alertness, recognized by researchers as crucial for learning. The natural companion to music is movement, which is known to oxygenate the brain and cause it to produce endorphins, also creating an optimal environment for new learning. So, the natural combination of music and movement is a great way to prepare the brain for new learning! Cross-lateral movement specifically stimulates the brain which is why crawling is such an important milestone for babies. Any movements that cross the mid-line such as windmills, or games like "Pat-a-cake" or "Hot Cross Buns" are also effective as they strengthen the nerve-cell paths that link the two sides of the brain. So crank up the stereo (or the wireless ipod) and have some fun! For more info, try these links:

Children's Music Web-a non-profit resource with web-based kids public radio
Articles on music's effects on the brain divided by age group
Brain Rules, by John Medina-for adults too! check out the 12 rules

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