Growing Bookworms – Developmental benefits of music for young children

When I was at school, we had music lessons during which we learned to play certain easy songs on an instrument like a recorder or a xylophone. We were also taught to sing musical notes in much the same way as Maria teaches the von Trapp children to sing notes in the film The Sound of Music.

I can remember listening to stories that taught me and my classmates about musical instruments and the different sounds they make. Peter and the Wolf comes to mind, as well as my personal favourite, Sparky’s Magic Piano.

If you are interested in watching Sparky’s Magic Piano, or have a child you would like to share it with, you can watch it here:

I always wanted to learn how to play the piano. Our neighbour started teaching me once and I was getting along nicely, but then we moved to another town and the opportunity didn’t present itself again.

Both my sons had music lessons and Gregory passed Grade 5 theory and practical piano. Michael initially wanted to learn the violin, but that didn’t last very long. He went on to learn the piano for a few years and is now having drum lessons.

Before my sons were born, I remember reading that learning to play an instrument was beneficial to the study of mathematics and this is one of the reasons I encouraged music so much with my sons.  I understand that this link has been demonstrated through a study conducted by NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants Foundation) (You can read more about it here:

More recently, I discovered recently that scientists at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute have discovered a link between music in early childhood and accelerated brain development. You can read more about that study here:

Studies have demonstrated that learning music can improve speech and readings skills in children by increasing their abilities to differential between different sounds and understand the patterns of language.

The top ten benefits of music and learning a musical instrument for children are as follows:

  1. Improved brain development due to music’s ability to stimulate parts of the brain that govern hearing, memory, movement, and emotion.
  2. Improved social skills as music helps children identify facial expressions, communicate with peers, and empathise with others.
  3. Increases creativity and builds problem solving skills.
  4. Learning to play an instrument promotes self-discipline in children.
  5. Learning to play an instrument increases children’s self-esteem.
  6. Musically trained children have better memories as music strengthens the hippocampus in the brain, which plays a vital role in regulating learning, memory encoding, memory consolidation, and spatial navigation.
  7. There is an overlap of the brain connections which process music and language with the result that learning music and learning to read complement each other.
  8. Music is a natural mood enhancer and helps children to reduce stress by calming and soothing them.
  9. Children who learn music have a better ability to control their own behaviour, emotions, and impulses.
  10. Learning a musical instrument improves co-ordination in children.

The one thing I noticed with my son, Gregory, who was reading music fluently at the age of five, was that the transition from written musical notes to written letters was a bit of an effort for him. It was a bit like learning a second language. This was not a big disadvantage for him, but it did take a little longer for him to learn the alphabet than I expected. Michael learned the alphabet before I started music lessons with him, and he found it more difficult to learn the music notes than the alphabet.

About Robbie Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews.

Growing Bookworms – Activities to teach children critical thinking skills

What are critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking is the ability to analyse facts and form a judgement.

In order to develop critical thinking skills, the following characteristics need to be fostered:

  1. An attitude of open mindedness, respect for evidence and reasoning, and the ability to see things from different perspectives and points of view;
  2. The ability to make a statement or decision based on supporting evidence;
  3. The ability to use reasoning skills to come to a logical conclusion. In other words, the ability to infer an outcome based on the facts and arguments presented;
  4. The ability to analyse information to assess its truthfulness. In other words, an ability to determine what is believable based on the facts and circumstances, and what is not.

Critical thinking skills help children learn how to work independently and solve problems.

Activities for teaching children critical thinking skills

  1. Creating art – when you express yourself using an artform, music or drawing or painting, you show an emotion or thought without using words and this encourages critical thinking.
  2. Games and puzzles – these activities help children learn to formulate strategies and understand how to approach a game with a plan of action.
  3. Reading books – while readings books, ask the child about the activities, thoughts, and emotions of the characters in the stories. Let them volunteer how they think a character will react to a certain situation and ask them how they think the story will end. This teaches the child to consider various options and outcomes and come up with theories.
  4. Real problems – modern children are exposed much younger to the problems of the world such as drought, hunger, and global warming. Discuss these issues with your child and help them consider possible solutions. The ability to find solutions to problems is a great skill and also encourages positivity and a sense of control. It is encouraging to think there are potential solutions to big issues.
  5. Building blocks – playing with lego and building blocks helps children to sift through endless possibilities, decide on one, and implement it. If it fails, they can try again.

My blogging friend, Norah Colvin, ex-teacher and developer of Readilearn Early Childhood Teaching Resources, recently shared an excellent post called Teaching thinking in the early years with itc thinkdrive. This post offers teachers some excellent resources for teaching critical thinking skills. You can read Norah’s post here:

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle



Twitter: BakeandWrite


Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


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