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Cultivating an Ear for Music

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Amy Postle

Children are inherently musical. Babies love to hear the sound of their mother's voice singing lullabies and soothing songs. The 2-year-old, with his exploding verbal skills, loves songs with catchy melodies and easily understandable words that repeat.

Sing to-and with-your toddler often. Toy and audio stores offer a vast selection of music tapes geared especially to young children. Play these as much as your child likes, but don't restrict the music she hears to these sing-along-type songs. Expose your child to rousing classical symphonies, the cool rhythms of jazz, and soothing folk music-whatever appeals to you. Your toddler will certainly develop an appreciation for music, even if she never displays any special talent.

Not surprisingly, singing can enhance a child's language skills. While your child is miming and dancing to "I've Been Working on the Railroad," he is probably expanding his vocabulary as well. Songs with repetitive phrases or refrains -- such as "Old MacDonald's Farm" -- can help him grasp concepts and master words, all while having fun!

There are numerous ways to increase your child's knowledge and appreciation of the world- ways that you may have never thought of. You just have to use your imagination and try them.

Activities that will enrich your child's understanding of the world aren't restricted to toys. By 2½ to 3, your toddler will love getting involved in grownup tasks like baking cookies or making cupcakes. Let her help pour ingredients into the mixing bowl, form shapes with a cookie cutter, and spread icing with a spoon. Your kitchen may look the worse for it, but she'll relish every messy moment of this everyday play.