It is important to begin teaching children about different cultures throughout their early childhood. Their brains rapidly develop during this period, which allows it to be especially effective for learning.
Because there are so many options, introducing multicultural resources to young children may seem overwhelming. Music is an excellent place to start, especially because of its universality People from many cultural backgrounds use music to convey unique experiences and connect with others. Music can help teach a child about their heritage, foster language development, or present new values.
Multiculturalism and Children’s Development
Educating children about different cultures promotes socialization, tolerance, and openness. These characteristics can lead to an appreciation of diversity and assist in establishing new relationships. Introducing new cultures also promotes curiosity. An important benefit of music is its accessibility—there are many online resources that provide free multicultural songs.
Between birth and age five, children develop a foundational understanding of music that can even influence them as adults. Though babies will not react and engage as toddlers might, it is equally important to introduce them to music.
Creating Awareness of Different Cultures
Exposing children to diverse music is a helpful way to introduce them to different cultures. Music can highlight a variety of instruments, languages, styles, and practices from places across the world. It is a powerful vehicle for storytelling and upholding traditions. Pre-recorded songs allow children to hear music directly from other cultures, no matter where they are.
One of the ways music is universal is its connection to festivities. Through songs, children can learn about different customs like holidays or other celebrations. Even if a song is not personally relevant, people can still connect with music they do not “understand.” Music is much more than its lyrics, and instrumental songs can foster connection as well.
Developing Language Skills
Listening to songs while learning a new language is a well-known strategy for adults, but it is also beneficial for children. Music in another language can help children to memorize, understand grammar, and build vocabulary. Many songs employ repetition, which reinforces familiar words.
Studies also show that learning a second language before the age of ten enables children to speak most fluently, so it is never too early! Multicultural songs can be added to a child’s routine from the time they are born, which can ease learning as they grow older.
Ways to Expose Children to Multicultural Music
Here are some fun activities that parents and caregivers can engage in with young children.
- Play songs a child is already familiar with, such as the ABCs or counting songs, in different languages.
- Watch videos of live performances. Children will be able to visualize instruments, locations, and people along with the music.
- Play an instrumental song and make up a dance together.
- Watch a simple lyric video and sing along to the words.
- Build a running playlist of multicultural songs and integrate it into a regular routine.
Learning through music is not only educational, but it can be fun as well! Finding ways to integrate a variety of musical forms into a child’s routine can spark curiosity, introduce new ideas, and celebrate diverse cultures.