Listen: Speech pathologist Sonia Bestulic chats to Katrina Roe.
It may be counter-intuitive for a frazzled mum or dad who’s longing for some quiet—but giving the kids the freedom to be noisy is great parenting.
Sonia Bestulic, the founder of Talking Heads Speech Pathology and author of the new kids book Reece Give Me Some Peace, says there are many benefits for kids when they have the chance to make noise.
Chatting to Hope 103.2’s Katrina Roe, she said that noisy, unstructured play, as well as learning about music, are great ways to develop their brains.
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“Unstructured play is really important for children,” Sonia said. “It allows them to explore objects, explore their environment and use their brains in different ways where they’re creating and using their imaginations.
“Whether it’s through role play or choosing an item and pretending it’s a telephone or pretending they’re a doctor or nurse, it’s so important for their cognitive development. It also helps their language and communication skills and empathy development.”
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Playing and listening to music is a particularly powerful way to develop a child’s cognition, because it involves using both sides of the brain. Research has shown it improves their attention, concentration and focus.
Music also helps kids recognise and express emotions, to be social—and to listen.
“There’s so much visual stimulus that goes on now with screens around us, so having something like music, where we’re needing to listen and concentrate and process that information we’re hearing, is really important,” said Sonia.
She encourages parents to give their kids a chance to engage with music—and she says you don’t have to be ‘musical’ yourself.
“Buy instruments, percussion instruments, keyboards, and have them available so kids can engage with them and explore them and have fun,” she said. “And expose children to different genres of music.”
As a parent herself, of three exuberant kids aged 5, 6 and 7, Sonia is very engaged in noisy activities with them.
She plays music games with her children while driving in the car, like “Guess The Instrument”, and makes toy musical instruments out of household objects.
“We all have our voice boxes and that’s the musical instrument we carry everywhere.”
“We listen carefully to a piece of music then we’ve got to label and name what instruments we can hear playing in the background,” she said. “That’s increased their knowledge and vocabulary of instruments.
“And we get crafty. We get empty tins and sticks, make guitars out of tissue boxes and string and that kind of thing. It’s really just about having fun in a musical way.”
If you don’t feel you are musical enough to introduce your kids to music, the radio and your voice is enough, says Sonia.
“We have so much access to music, the radio, albums. Get kids involved with music through singing and dancing. You don’t have to be a great singer. We all have our voice boxes and that’s the musical instrument we carry everywhere.
“Be willing to look silly, sound silly and have fun.”