Do you and your family have songs that you enjoy singing together? Well, don’t stop, because singing with your child or children can help develop their early reading skills.
Musician Nancy Stewart, on her amazing website www.singwithourkids.com, explains how:
- Our brains are uniquely wired to respond to music, from before the time we are born.
Because singing is interactive, it involves even the youngest children in language.
- Children learn language through repetition, and as songs are repeated the rhythm of the words is internalized.
- Singing brings a natural awareness of words, as each syllable or sound in a word gets a different note.
Nursery rhymes and finger plays present a wide vocabulary, and teach sentence structure, story concepts and comprehension.
- The only things we remember word-for-word from our childhoods, are childhood songs and some rhymes!
- Children learn oral language before written language, and the more experience they have with oral language, the better prepared they will be for interpreting written words.
- Active participation in music (singing) increases retention, builds memory, and actually helps grow the brain in young children! Because children naturally love to sing, there is no “teaching,” just doing!
How Can You Help Your Child or Children Build Early Literacy Skills Though Singing?
- Sing throughout your day. Research shows that the more music a child experiences, the greater the benefits.
- Play “complex” music at home or in the classroom. Examples of complex music are classical music or singing rounds. There are some wonderful classical recordings available just for young children.
- Make up songs, or sing familiar songs like “The Wheels on the Bus” using children’s names.
- Make up songs or chants about the foods as you prepare them. Emphasize and exaggerate the letter sounds.
- Collect or make rhythm instruments, and use them to reinforce syllables and keep a steady beat as you sing. The same can be done with clapping.
- Use “books that sing” often as a daily part of your circle time.
Ask your children's librarian to help you find them in the picture book section. (We're always happy to help!)
- Sing traditional folk songs with your children, as they bring with them a knowledge of our culture and language. Expand on them.
For example, if you sing a song from another land, get out a map or globe and show children where the song comes from. Ask questions, and use the opportunity to build those narrative skills!
You are probably already involved in activities that will lay the foundation for early literacy. So just sing and have fun!