We're All In This Together: Encouraging the Love of Music in Trauma-Affected Children

We're All In This Together: Encouraging the Love of Music in Trauma-Affected Children
By Marc Bermann, JCFS Chicago Foster Parent Recruiter and Trainer

Music education can have a profound impact on children--educationally, creatively and therapeutically.  A 2004 study published in the Journal Psychological Science found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects, enhancing skills children will inevitably use elsewhere, as evidenced by a group of 6-year olds whose IQs increased after taking voice and piano lessons. Additional studies have linked music education to other benefits. The Children’s Music Workshop notes that research has shown that musical training physically develops the part of the brain associated with processing language.

For trauma-affected children, the foster home environment can be the perfect place to nurture a love of music and reap the benefits just stated. Here are some suggestions to make that happen:

  • Dance with your children and help them expend as much of their pent-up energy. Play their favorite songs and set aside time after school or after dinner to “get down and boogie.”
  • Singing along to favorite songs will allow kids to learn words and language. Repetition reinforces memory and articulation. Variations in volume and tone teach children “impulse control.”
  • Let children be the “DJ” by choosing the songs they like the most. After the performance, ask them what they particularly liked about the music; the lyrics, the beat, the melody. Soliciting feedback will help reinforce language and conversation skills.
  • Purchase age-appropriate instruments for your children to supplement the toys they play with most frequently. This will reinforce gross and fine motor skills (drumming, strumming, blowing) and possibly encourage them to want to take music lessons in school (usually much cheaper than private lessons).