Clapping along songs improve kids’ brain power

April 29th, 2010 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 29 (IANS) Clapping while singing songs is likely to spur development of important skills in children, a first-ever study on the subject says.
“We found that children in the first, second and third grades who sing these songs demonstrate skills absent in children who don’t take part in similar activities,” explains Idit Sulkin, a member of Ben-Gurion University (BGU) Music Science Lab in the Department of the Arts.

“We also found that children who spontaneously perform hand-clapping songs in the yard during recess have neater handwriting, write better and make fewer spelling errors,” Sulkin adds.

Warren Brodsky, the music psychologist who supervised her doctoral dissertation, said Sulkin’s findings lead to the presumption that “children who don’t participate in such games may be more at risk of developmental learning problems like dyslexia and dyscalculia”.

“There’s no doubt such activities train the brain and influence development in other areas. The children’s teachers also believe that social integration is better for these children than those who don’t take part in these songs,” Brodsky adds.

As part of the study, Sulkin went to several elementary school classrooms and engaged the children in either a board of education sanctioned music appreciation programme or hand-clapping songs training - each lasting a period of 10 weeks.

“Within a very short period of time, the children who until then hadn’t taken part in such activities caught upon their cognitive abilities to those who did,” she says. But this finding only surfaced for the group of children undergoing hand-clapping songs training.

The result led Sulkin to conclude that hand-clapping songs should be made an integral part of education for children aged six to 10, for the purpose of motor and cognitive training.

Her original goal, as part of her thesis, was to figure out why children are fascinated by singing and clapping up until the end of third grade, when these pastimes are abruptly abandoned and replaced with sports, a BGU release says.

“This fact explains a developmental process the children are going through,” Sulkin observes.

“These activities serve as a developmental platform to enhance children’s needs — emotional, sociological, physiological and cognitive. It’s a transition stage that leads them to the next phases of growing up,” she concludes.

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