Watching a baby clap with joy is enough to make every parent’s heart swell. However, clapping represents a lot more than happiness; it represents almost a year’s worth of work and development. A clapping baby is not just a happy baby, but also a baby who is learning he has some control over himself and his environment. Clapping requires coordination and concentration, and allows babies to communicate with others.
It takes two to three months for babies to realize that their hands are attached to their bodies, and even longer for them to develop the motor skills necessary to manipulate objects with their hands. Babies typically begin to imitate clapping at 6 months old. However, those first few claps may include more clumsy misses than actual claps. What is important at this stage is that your baby is trying to imitate others and is working on fine motor skills by attempting to clap.
Clapping to Communicate
It is not until babies are 9 months of age that most have the fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination to successfully clap. Babies initially clap to imitate their caregivers, but as they approach 12 months old, they begin to realize they can express joy and excitement by clapping. Encourage clapping and clap for your baby often to teach her that clapping is a form of communication. Babies are always searching for new and more advanced ways to express themselves.
Clapping in Preschool
Preschool teachers use clapping to help children learn a number of concepts. Clapping is a fun way to reinforce early mathematical concepts such as patterns. Clapping is also a good way to help children learn the concept of syllables. Children who understand that words can be broken into smaller parts have an easier time understanding the concepts of reading and spelling. Clapping while singing helps kids gain a sense of rhythm.
Clapping Songs and Games
Pat-a-cake is a wonderful way to bond with your baby while helping her learn to clap and improve her manual dexterity. Kids will get great practice singing songs like "BINGO" as well. Clapping songs and games can help kids develop their fine motor skills and cognitive development. They are also a fun way to spend time with your child. As children grow older, choose more complicated games and songs to challenge them and add to the fun.