Mary Brown: Singing and dancing helps give your child a good start

I HAVE always been unable to resist the lure of a dance floor, especially if Mamma Mia is belting out. The song lifts my spirits, connects me with the people around me and reminds me of my fun-loving three-year-old daughter, dancing and singing along to it.

I tell you this because this weekend hundreds of babies and parents across Scotland will enjoy their first disco as part of the Scottish Government's Play, Talk, Read campaign. It aims to encourage parents and carers of under-threes to play, talk and read to their children every day, in response to research showing that the way adults interact with small children makes a huge difference to their life chances.

As well as enjoyment, music offers a medium for parent and child to share an interaction, which has far-reaching benefits for both. At Nordoff-Robbins we use music therapy to bring about positive changes for children and adults with isolating conditions such as learning disabilities or autism. Music encourages communication, supports change and enables people to live more resourcefully and creatively – regardless of their age or state of well-being.

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Most of us develop a curiosity for sound and music-making during early childhood – and most get pleasure from singing and making music together. Music and dancing can offer unlimited creative experiences, encouraging skills such as exploration, imitation, spontaneity and vocalising, as well as motor skills and social skills – all key processes at the heart of child development.

Put simply, dancing and singing with your wee one can have a huge impact on how they listen, share, move and interact. And the good news is that giving a child the very best start in life doesn't require your own mirror ball and turntable! A kitchen orchestra of pots and pans, or singing and clapping along to your favourite song in the car . . . it's all good.

Mary Brown is executive director of Nordoff-Robbins, a charity transforming the lives of sick or disabled children and adults through music. See