Your baby expresses herself without inhibitions, and she naturally enjoys listening to music, singing, dancing, acting, storytelling, and painting. Artistic expression exercises her brain across sectors and increases her cognitive functioning.
According to David A. Sousa, MD in his book How the Brain Learns, neuroscientists think that the creation of art involves the collaboration of different areas of the brain. In order to create, your child must intentionally think, focus, solve problems, and initiate. These artistic functions build her brain and create and strengthen multiple neural pathways. You can support your baby’s cognitive development by encouraging her to participate in the arts.
Because producing art is a universal human experience, your baby instinctively generates art. You can help her to stimulate her brain and establish the pathways that allow her various brain networks to work together by encouraging creativity in the following ways:
- Sing to your baby—Introduce music by singing, whether or not you can carry a tune. Your singing focuses her attention and creates a positive environment—both building blocks for learning.
- Play music for your baby—Play a wide variety of music. If you or your friends play musical instruments, play and sing for your child. Take your child to age-appropriate concerts and live music events.
- Make sounds together—According to psychologist Diana Deutsch, PhD, scientific evidence shows a link between music and language development. Exposure to music, both vocal and instrumental, helps your baby become attuned to the subtler meanings in a person’s tone and builds her neural network in preparation for becoming an effective communicator.
- Dance with your baby—Before your baby can move on her own, play music or sing and move rhythmically with her. As she learns to stand on her own, she can feel the music in her body and bounce by herself.
- Provide materials for creativity—Offer items that encourage creativity and art, such as drawing materials (paper, crayons, chalk, markers), simple musical instruments that make sounds and rhythms (pots, pans, spoons, drums, bells, maracas, xylophones), books, and dolls or plush toys.
- Expose your child to art—Display paintings or prints in your home. Take your child to age-appropriate plays and art museums. Make art a part of her daily life.
- Create together—In addition to supporting your child to be self-directed in her creativity, collaborate with her on occasion. Let her direct you in play. Be the audience when she has a story to tell. Display her art prominently in your home.
- Follow your own artistic pursuits—Express yourself through poetry, painting, music, theater, or other artistic passions. By being an artist yourself, you show your child that you appreciate the value of the arts.
How do you encourage your baby’s creative pathway? Comment below!