How does music and movement help in understanding

I wanted to write a post specifically about how music and movement can help your little one in her understanding of language.  This post is specifically in reference to your 2-3 year old (however if your four-year old is still struggling with simple directives please read) and in her inability to follow even the simplest of directions: come here (with your hand extended)…sit down (with your hand touching the floor indicating that you want her to sit down)…give me a kiss (with your lips puckered).  These are simple directions that she has heard over and over again…however still does not grasp. 

Some children have a difficult time in understanding of language….the processing of the words they hear is just too complex for them….how very frustrating…how will they understand any sort of consequence… will you discipline…how will you set rules and boundaries…when she can not even understand a very simple direction. 

I am a speech and language consult for a few of the children I see…these children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder…..and I collaborate with the team on many aspects of speech and language development….oral motor feeding, language develoment…receptive language…processing…..depending on their level and what their needs are.  It is great to collaborate with the entire team to really brain-storm…so we can come up with the best plan for the little one.. some of the children that I see as a consult are not on the spectrum, however, are very low with regard to their understanding of language.  So whether the little one has an autism spectrum disorder…or a significant language processing concern…..I like to start off with encouraging the understanding of a gross motor movement….when I say understanding…..that they understand that we are asking them to: clap hands, give a kiss, do so big, jump in place….etc.   Remember for children that are having difficulty in their understanding of language…just hearing the words means nothing…they need to hear the words tied with action (a motor movement)….and I like to tie it with song too….remember music is on the right side of the brain and language is on the left…so let’s tie them together to help your little one to understand the words she is hearing….and now let’s tie a motor movement with it…when singing the wheels on the bus…you remember how the song starts off….be sure to tie the motor movement of your hands moving round and round…as you are singing the song….sing the entire song…about the wipers…the babies crying, the windows going up and down, the doors opening and closing…etc.

So sing this song with your little one….and show her the motor movements…and see if she will start to imitate you….this is a good starting point for working on following directions and understanding of language….once we see that she is beginning to understand motor movements…specifically that we want her to imitate what we are doing….she may start to understand other directions such as pointing to pictures upon request…follow a simple routine directive with a cue…then following the simple routine directive without a cue…then following a novel directive…then some more complex directives.

So have fun singing with your little one…and be sure to encourage her to follow along with the motor movements.

You can also sing:

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumble Bee

If Your happy and You know it


Have fun with your little one or big one!

And please post any questions.



About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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