We constantly react to stimuli coming from the world around us. We respond to the voice of our guardian calling, we might like or dislike an image we see on TV, and the smell of a freshly cooked dinner attracts us. Apart from the luring affect our senses have, we actually learn through the interaction with the outside world. We might not be aware of this as adults but kids, toddlers, and babies are much more sensitive to stimuli. Even a simple rustling sound is enough to activate their brain (and make them start crying). Auditory stimulation is, therefore, crucial to normal brain development in kids, as there are benefits to their physical and mental development.
Studying the Classic(al)s
If you’re thinking what on Earth auditory stimulation is, the simplest answer would be: music. This is the primary stimuli your child’s brain receives in order to get into creativity and learning mode. It is not the same which type of music children are exposed to, as classical music is the pest genre to listen to. While listening to Beethoven or Bach, children enter the alpha brain wave state which has the ideal beats per minute ratio. If your kid is looking at a coloring book or leafing through a literary classic for children, play them Brahms without letting them know.
This means that a child’s brain is ready to receive new information in this state, i.e. to learn (and do homework, from the parent’s point of view). Of course, not all works of classical music are suitable for brain development. For instance, vocals and choirs are often pitched too high and they can do more damage than good. Other types of music, like rock or pop, could be inadequate too. Until your kids are old enough to develop their own musical taste, you should play them classical music as often as possible. Best times for these sessions is while they are busy playing with their Legos or while they are reading or they are being read to.
In fact, classical music is beneficial because it doesn’t seek active attention from your brain. Rather it plays in the background, leaving the brain cells to relax and turn their attention to more pressing issues. That is why many parents listen to this genre while meditating. This is an activity your kids can join you in because mediation will increase their exposure to classical music.
The Sound of Nature
A summer night in the wilderness is full of different sounds. The waves on the nearby lake, the night owl, and the crackling sound of fire are probably the most cherished auditory memories from our childhood. Your children should not be deprived of these soothing sounds of nature even your family lives in an urban settlement. Introduce a kind of sound therapy to supplant the squeaking of car tires with more natural sounds.
The original is always the best, so a visit to the beach or a road trip into a national park are ideal for children to enjoy the sounds of nature. If you’re not planning a vacation any time soon, then a CD with sounds from nature can act as a worthy substitute. Create your own playlist that will include the sound of a waterfall, crickets, and the morning rooster.
By far, the most stimulating natural sound is the sound of running water makes. Whether it’s a river or sea waves, you should really look to include these in your child’s life. A backyard fountain or even a pool is ideal solutions for water features. In fact, a small fountain inside the nursery wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Do Deaf Children Need Auditory Stimulation?
First of all, you need to understand that there is a wide variety of deaf impairments. Few children are 100% deaf in both ears so there is hope in stimulating their brains with music too! One of the things that each child can understand and see is rhythm. They may not be able to hear every sound and note but the bass of the chorus should ring a bell for them if it’s accompanied by body percussion. You can clap your hands on the table in the rhythm of the song for the child to visualize notes. In fact, an impaired child can even learn to play an instrument and become a virtuoso like Ludwig van Beethoven did. The magic of music can definitely be introduced to a child if their parents are persistent enough.
One of the biggest advantages of listening to classical music is the fact that there are no words in it, it’s mainly instrumental melodies. Once words are included, our brain needs to put in more effort to process the sounds. This is the reason why nursery rhymes are simplified in terms of lyrics and they have words that are repeated. The songs that do reach the ear of your child should be positive, joyful, and uplifting. Somber themes and a huge number of words have no place in children’s songs, as they will destimulate a child’s development.
A Child-Parent Duet
Listening to music is not a solitary action. We all feel the need to put headphones on and be alone but at other times we join thousands of people at shows when our favorite musicians are performing. The child should also not feel isolated when they listen to music. Like in any learning process, the best sign that the message got across is the ability of the learner to reproduce it. If you play a song with simple lyrics to your child and he or she starts singing along, this is a clear signal that they like it. However, after a while, the auditory stimuli might not be enough so feel free to join them and form a singing duet. This will account for another fun activity that you can do with your children, all the while stimulating their sense of hearing.
Is Children’s Literature a Thing of the Past?
So far, we have only been discussing music and sing-along songs. However, there are countless stories and fairy tales that you can read to your child before bedtime. They might not be songs, although background music is an option, but with proper narration, stories and poems can serve as excellent auditory stimuli. Libraries that store these books have long ago become fun places where you can learn the skill of storytelling. If you’re a good narrator, your kids will imagine in their head all the adventures you are reading about, thus boosting their creativity and imagination.
Auditory stimulation plays a big role in how your child perceives the world around himself/herself. It is up to you as a parent to oversee this learning process and try to channel it in the best possible direction. Anything from listening to a fountain, a CD full of Mozart or tapping to the rhythm of the music will help your kid’s brain develop better.
Victoria Lim is a lifestyle writer with expertise in scribbling a lot of unnecessary words, traveling with a big pack of gummy bears ( green ones to the victory! ), walking a dog for miles and miles, getting bites from pet squirrel and choosing a tea for my next cup. Over the years she has written pieces for Thrive Global, LEP Fitness, Nutty Kitchen, Selfish Mother, Vocal Media, The Velvet Runway, and many others.