Singing Promotes Engagement and Language Development
By Cara Zelas
If you have ever spent any time with a young child, you know they love to sing! Even little babies can be found swaying along and bobbing their heads to their favorite tunes. However, don’t just write singing off as something fun or silly that children enjoy; singing actually has lots of educational benefits.
What does the research say?
Research shows that musical experiences in childhood accelerate brain development (Bright Horizons, 2018). Children exposed to music grow up to speak more clearly, have a bigger vocabulary, and stronger social and emotional skills (Steinhoff, 2016). Specifically, singing with young children is shown to develop phonemic (sound) awareness, build listening and comprehension skills, and provide a better disposition to help students learn to read. In order for students to one day enjoy reading, they need to enjoy the skill development that leads to reading (Schiller, 2008).
- Singing is fun and doesn’t seem like “work” to a child. Therefore it’s a great way to teach new skills.
- Repetition helps children remember things, so singing a song about a new skill will help them retain the new knowledge.
- Singing helps students learn the skills necessary for reading. Before they can read words, they can identifying rhyming words and sounds through the use of songs.
How to incorporate singing in the classroom
- Have opening and closing songs to start and end your day.
- Use songs as part of your literacy instruction.
- Pick out songs to specifically teach rhyming and alliteration to build your students’ language awareness. You can even have students add on to the songs with other rhyming words and sounds!
- Use songs to build vocabulary.
- Make sure students know what the words in common nursery rhymes and toddler songs mean.
- Have students come up with synonyms for words in their favorite songs.
- For example, what other words could you use to describe the spider instead of “itsy bitsy”?
- Use songs to teach new skills or behaviors.
- Repetition helps us remember things! So if you combine a song with a new skill, your students will remember how to do that skill more easily.
- Use songs to help make transition time easier.
- When it is time to clean up supplies, pack up for the end of the day, or line up for lunch, having a song to facilitate that transition will make it much easier on your students.
- Add a music center to your classroom.
- This could include audio books of nursery rhymes, headphones with an ipod for students to listen to and sing along with songs, and musical instruments. (Braynard, 2008)
How to incorporate singing at home
- Make singing a part of your daily routine to accompany chores and transitions.
- Have your child sing with you as you clean up toys, get ready for bed, or get the bath ready.
- Read nursery rhymes with your child, but sing the words as you follow along with the book.
- You don’t need to just sing toddler and preschool songs.
- Teach your child your favorite song or the songs you sing at your place of worship.
- Make up songs with your child!
- They can silly and spur of the moment. You don’t need to memorize specific songs for activities. Make up songs about your dog or cat, about all your family members, or just about nonsense topics. The more sounds your child is exposed to with singing, the stronger their foundation will be for literacy.
- Add songs to part of your daily reading routine.
- Everyone knows how important it is to read to your child, so add singing to your reading time.
It’s clear that singing is a great way to boost educational skills in your child. Don’t worry if you don’t have the best singing voice either. Your child won’t really know or care. She’ll just be glad you took the time to sing with her!
Braynard, K. (2008). Sing along! You have the children’s permission. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=632.
Bright Horizons. (2018). Children and music: benefits of music in child development. Retrieved from https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2010-music-and-children-rhythm-meets-child-development
Schiller, P. (2008). Songs and rhymes as a springboard to literacy. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_home.aspx?ArticleID=478.
Steinhoff, A. (2016). The importance of music in early childhood development. Retrieved from https://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/importance-music-early-childhood-development/