Singing isn’t just for special occasions like Christmas carrolling or summer campfires, it’s a great learning activity for every day.
Singing encourages all kinds of brain connections, the most obvious being language and vocabulary. All that repetition is a way to practice the right order for words. Other ways that songs help language development include auditory discrimination and memory, rhythm, rhyming, language fluency, and listening skills. Want your kids to pay attention when you have something important to say? Try singing it, especially in a deep, strong voice. To help kids s-t-r-e-t-c-h their memory or learn something new sing about it; kids can sing the alphabet earlier than say it. Second language programs often include simple songs for these very reasons.
Songs have patterns which prewire the brain for all kinds of other patterns, especially in math. Notes go up and down a scale just like numbers go up and down in order. Not just the notes, but spaces have significance in music and in math. Ever hear a song in the morning and it’s stuck in your head all day? That’s a sign of the brain working, to create connections or rehearse pathways. Singing involves other thinking strategies, too. When kids sing along they are using skills like careful listening, memory, predicting, and patterning.
Sometimes kids sing all by their very own selves, but it is also has a social aspect. Children need to watch and listen to others so they can sing along, slowing down or speeding up, sometimes taking the lead or following along. Being included in a group can help shy kids feel more confident. Singing in a group can help dominant kids learn they are only one of many voices.
Singing is one way to practice patience when having to wait. It gives little ones something to do rather than be bored. The people in the line at the bank really don’t mind when you and your child sing If You’re Happy And You Know It or I Am A Pizza. On a very long road trip, we sang along to several CD’s to keep the two little ones in the backseat more content. It’s a good strategy to use for self-regulation and can be calming or energizing.
What are some ways to incorporate singing into an ordinary day? Start first thing: “This is the way that we get dressed, we get dressed, we get dressed, This is the way that we get dressed if only we could find your shoes.” Or “I’m gonna wash these dishes nice and clean,” (Tune=Wash That Man Outta My Hair ). Sing on the way to the bus, or in the car; 4 Hugs A Day when dropping little ones off. The laundry—oh where, oh where did that other sock go? At daycares, songs are often used as signals for some part of the routine. The clean-up song will work at home, too. Getting kids to wash hands for long enough is much easier with a couple verses of a song. Rubber Duckie or Splish, Splash are fun choices for bathtime. Lullabies are used universally to calm and soothe kids. Some children even sing themselves to sleep.
But don’t save songs just for bedtime. Songs are such a wonderful way to learn. Like the sun, encourage your kids to let their voices shine and brighten up their learning.
Barbara Allisen, better known as Mrs. A., is a kindergarten teacher and author with over 30 years experience, primarily in kindergarten and preschool. She has taught more than 1,000 children and is the author of 123 Kindergarten, Everthing Your Child Needs to Learn Before Kindergarten. Read more at www.123kindergarten.com or connect with her online www.facebook.com/123kindergarten.
Coastal Sound offers a program for preschoolers and Kindergarten age children called Sources. Our next session starts in September, read more here.