Now I know my ABC's . . . Is That What It’s All About?

By Gari Stein 

Infants come into this world pre-wired for music, expecting to move. And that is how they learn. Babies are not born thinking, “I want to learn my numbers, shapes, colors, and ABCs.” We know how good music makes us feel, and now the research is bursting with how good it really is for us.

What makes us think also makes us move. We need to get babies out of their containers and onto the floor. Rolling, creeping, crawling, walking, jumping, movement that directly corresponds with the way information travels in the brain: side to side, back to front, up and down(Blaydes-Madigan). The part of the brain that processes movement is the same part of the brain that’s processing learning (Strick)

The media of the current culture would have our mantra be "make children smarter, faster." With such emphasis on the academics and leave-no-child-behind, children are often left on their behinds, sitting on their social and emotional needs. Children can know their letters upside down, inside out, forwards and backwards, but if they don’t feel good about themselves or have the social competence to relate to their peers, the academics won’t serve them well.

So let’s get moving, boosting brain power at the same time. Let your children play with their food. It uses several senses and at the same time sends messages to the brain, forming neural pathways. Wave arms in the air crossing the mid-line of the body. This integrates the left and right sides of our brain, which is an important part of coordination and factor in learning to read and write. Singing songs and chanting rhymes uses lots of senses and builds many skills.

Music is one of the only activities that activates and stimulates both sides of the brain impacting language, memory, creativity, imagination, coordination, rhythm, listening, and concentration. Get physical. Gross motor needs to be developed before fine motor can be mastered.

Simply put, movement impacts all developmental domains. Is this too much information to process? Then, forget about it. Just put baby on the floor to observe and explore and then back to your arms to move through different planes. Put on some music, wave scarves, shake maracas, shake-shake-shake, wiggle-wiggle-wiggle, and jump for joy.

With all this moving, let’s remember, that children, like adults, also need time to just be. In our hurry up, dot-com world, children are often over scheduled with every activity requiring an organized class. Have a cozy space with pillows and cushions and art materials readily available.

The developmental milestones and basic needs of young children have not changed in 100 years. Most children will develop healthy and strong. They need to know love, trust, and safety, be read and sung to, experiment with open-ended art, have time for free-unstructured play, learn problem solving skills, self-regulate, take risks.

Put on some music, wave scarves, shake maracas, shake-shake-shake, wiggle-wiggle-wiggle, and jump for joy.

We need to be truly present to listen and talk to our precious little ones. Let’s turn off our phones, turn to our children, and not rush them through their childhood. It only happens once.

And that’s what it’s all about!

Further Resources:

To find out more about Gari Stein’s classes, family & student concerts and in-service training, visit her website at or get in touch with her at 734-741-1510 or

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Posted on December 4, 2014 and filed under Parenting.