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MANY YOUNG PARENTS WORRY which are the best or correct moves in the early years after birth to give their children an advantage later on in life. As Shakespeare says it: If music be the food of love play on!

Children respond and learn best in a musical environment. Many researchers from Harvard Medical School who have done further research on children, found that the brain connections were almost all completed by their sixth birthday. Instrument training is a multisensory motor experience, typically initiated at an early age. Playing an instrument requires a host of skills, including reading ahead and hand eye coordination, and has numerous benefits as illuminated in studies done by the Department of Neurology, Music and Neuro-imaging Labs at Harvard Medical School, Boston USA. Music is also linked to all the sensory skills, brain development and later character building that can be formulated into positive advantages in adult life.

So, it can start from babyhood: singing to them or rocking them to sleep with a song, or switching on light tunes from Mozart can establish calm, peaceful, happy environments as much as talking to them regularly. An early introduction to nursery rhymes can help them learn through the songs or even musical games. Later on, joining junior music classes or going to a kindergarten with extra music and movement activities and character building focus as well as bringing them to concerts establishes a musical discipline. Eventually starting them on a proper musical instrument would be the best initial step to open the door of educating the young child.

The Junior Learning House was indeed an experimental project for my three children. I realised years later that the set up of the JLH childcare centre with its foundations of early childhood music ingrained in the programs, plus the music and movement from the ballet and dance teacher had been, for me, an experimental hypothesis with a proven result. Coupled with the character development, spiritual teaching and frugal training of simple living from the home, it has in all proven the path for many parents who completely followed the recipe.

Many parents rush for their children to be academically adept and forward, but essentially at the early childhood years of formation and brain development, children should have the space for creativity and understanding. They need hands on activities like playing in the garden to internalise their understanding through movements and activities and most importantly to develop their characters to be able to communicate well and to continue to explore their learning in all environments. A focus on understanding concepts over pushing them to complete huge amounts of ‘paperwork’ can help them to develop a gradual appreciation of spiritual growth and support.

All children are different in their genetic set up, and whilst environment and input are so important in their entire development, growth and understanding, it is through knowing all the major philosophies of great educators or medical scientists, such as Blooms Taxonomy, Piaget, Vogotsky, Dalcroze, Suzuki, Kodaly, Carl Orff and Montessori, that one can ensure that the children can develop to the best of their abilities with the right approaches and support. The triangular support from parents, children and educators is the most vital framework that can help ensure the right recipes for the child to develop to their highest levels before independence.

Dr. Geraldine Law-Lee is the Executive Director of the IMH Group of Companies and  IMH Academy in Kuching. She now spends her time documenting and publishing valuable teaching materials and ethnic treasures of Sarawak for the newer generations, which would otherwise have been lost.

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