Could it be that listening to the steady tick-tock of a clock and seeing its pendulum swing to and fro may ‘feed’ a child’s brain with the “food” of rhythm? Are kids attracted to clocks partly because they sense that clocks are good for them? We had good reasons to think so. In fact, in the fields of science, it’s well known that input from the five senses seeing, hearing, touching, etc. plays a crucial role in the brain development of young children.
Following our “hunch” we went to Dr. Kevin McGrew for his opinion. Dr. McGrew is an educational psychologist and the director of the Institute for Applied Psychometrics. We asked him if it was feasible for a young child to be affected, to some extent, in a positive way, by the sound of a ticking clock while awake, or even while asleep, or by the sight of the rhythmic swing of its pendulum.
“It is a reasonable hypothesis,” he said, “based on the extensive body of research currently available on mental timing (brain clock) research, “but,” he continued, “I currently have not conducted the systematic literature review and synthesis of the necessary research to determine the scientific support for the hypothesis.”
So the next step was to do our own research to see if there were any scientific studies that would confirm this “reasonable hypothesis”. So far none have been found; we’ll update this article if and when they are. But what we do know now, based on the results of the established studies on child development in general is that when children use their innate sense of timing and keep a steady beat, their speech flow, motor tasks, sports skills, reading and writing abilities and a lot more, are dramatically affected. These studies have inspired some to publish child development books and resources for parents, offering a wide variety of rhythmic activity ideas including interactive clock songs. Kids are drawn to these activities. When they play, it’s obvious to see how they love to express beats and rhythms, repeatedly, in new and different ways especially when they sing, clap, dance and laugh to music.
One of the studies mentioned above confirms the benefits of what kids do naturally. It made use of a system called “Interactive Metronome”, or “IM” for short. IM combines a metronome (a ‘clock-like’ device) with computerized technology to fine tune the human ‘brain clock.’ This is how it’s done: the metronome produces an audible metric ‘beat’ or rhythm, much like the tick-tock pattern of an analog clock; by a person interacting with the metronome’s beat through hand and foot movements, the brain becomes more efficient and synchronous. IM is recognized as an effective intervention therapy and is mainly used to treat learning disabilities, ADHD, dyslexia, autism, and more.
In light of the wide ranging benefits that have been achieved through rhythmic training and fine tuning the “brain clock”, it becomes clearer why children would have an instinctive attraction to the steady beat of an analog clock. Each year at the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Museum, about 2,100 children between the ages of 3 and 8 years old are captured by the rhythms of the ticking sounds, chimes, gongs, gears, bellows, pendulums and escapements. More than most, museum Director Noel Poirier gets to see first hand the wonder and enjoyment children experience when they encounter clocks. “Children are fascinated by clocks and watches and I have yet to determine why that is” Poirier said, “I don’t know if it’s the sensory experience of the child…but what we’ve discovered is that children love looking at timepieces and really trying to understand them.”
The intrigue kids experience with clocks may be for a reason that goes deeper than mere interest or curiosity. It just may have something to do with ‘brain nutrition,’ that is, being ‘fed’ with the ‘food’ of rhythm.
Are you interested in a cuckoo clock for your little one? Check our selection of kids cuckoo clocks.
If you’ve enjoyed this article be sure to check out our other related article “Clocks Point To More Than Time”. For more information about Interactive Metronome and brain synchronization see www.themindhub.com and www.brainclock.net.
Photo # 1 – Tick tock and clock – scratchandpeck.blogspot.com
Photo # 2 – Man with magnifying glass – wphillips.com
Photo # 3 – Children clapping hands – liffeytruststudios.com
Photo # 4 – a fascinated child – mastercoaches.com