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Children develop language through watching, listening and practice. Singing to young children can help them develop early language and literacy skills, such as phonological awareness, auditory discrimination, and vocabulary development. Its no coincidence that young children are drawn to activities with music, rhythm and repetition….all of these elements can help young children learn.
Music doesn’t have to be limited to watching the TV or listening to the radio. We can create music anytime and anywhere. In addition to singing well known nursery rhymes and children’s songs, why not make up your own?
Typically when children are very young, you will need to take the lead…providing the music and words, and helping your child do the motions to the songs. After many, many, many repetitions, you can encourage your child to take charge and lead the interaction. In other words, you follow their lead.
Some Tips for Singing With Your Child
- Don’t worry if you don’t sound great, children will respond to the rhythm of your speech, and the love and affection with which you sing. The most important thing is to sing slowly and clearly.
- Use lots of actions with your songs, as this encourages your child to imitate. Remember imitation of actions often comes first, with the words coming later.
- Make up words to familiar tunes so your songs have more meaning for your child. You can put your child’s name in the song to personalize it.
- Make use of pausing. For your children this will help them learn to anticipate, for older children it will give them the chance to fill in the missing word or action. For example “open shut them, open shut them, give a little ……..”
- Make up simple songs (borrowing tunes if need be) for house routines. Not only are you teaching language, you building up helpful routines.
And if you have worries about language development…
Check in with your child nurse, GP or a speech pathologist. Children develop language at different rates. It’s not about who gets there first, more whether they are meeting milestones around the expected time.
The Child Wellbeing Centre has three speech pathologists available for consultation working on different days of the week. Please contact our reception for further information.