Moving to music is one of the best ways for kids to learn to appreciate music: it shows them that music can and should be experienced, rather than something to listen to passively. This is especially true of very young kids: they experience music best when they are moving, clapping, stomping, swaying—whatever helps them feel it. Dancing is also a great way to channel your child’s boundless energy and keep them physically healthy, and it helps them improve their coordination and express themselves.
Here are a few good ways to get your child moving to music.
Feeling the rhythm
Children are naturally drawn to sound and rhythm. Babies will smile, sway, and maybe even clap to music. Around 14 months, children may start bobbing up and down; from 17-18 months, they may start moving side to side and turning in circles; around two they’ll get their arms involved. To encourage your child to dance around this age, all you really need are some fun tunes and space to move. Little ones will also enjoy sitting on your lap as you bounce your knees to the beat of a song—even one you sing yourself! Have your child face you and make sure you’re smiling.
Special songs and props
You can also play songs that have accompanying hand gestures or movements like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “The Hokey Pokey.” Or, create your own songs and make up hand gestures and dance moves to go along with them. Use your child’s name in the song to make it more personal and fun; include props like balloons, scarves, or stuffed animals; and get in there and dance with your child! Dancing is more fun with a partner.
If you don’t know many children’s songs, don’t worry: you can find many online, or you can borrow music and videos from your local library.
Now turn on some music and get boogieing!