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Nicola Betts

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How singing to your baby impacts Language Development & Attention Span

Reasons to Sing to Your Baby

Emotions & Bonding . Balance & Co-ordination . Language Development & Attention Span .

Singing Improves Language Skills

Singing helps your baby to understand the basic building blocks and patterns of language and communication, long before they can speak. Lots of songs have rhyming patterns which help your baby recognise rhyming sounds, and to identify the natural rhythms of speech.

Danielle Ballantine-Drake

Singing stimulates and improves language development. It can help children develop bigger vocabularies, a better sense of grammar and become more verbally adept. Music-making and singing can help benefit both the development of the mother tongue and the learning of other languages.

Henriksson-Macaulay 2014

Singing reinforces basic skills in literacy and language development. Also, singing is fun! It is amongst the most enjoyable learning activities for children. What a wonderful combination – learning and enjoyment. I therefore truly believe that singing is ESSENTIAL.

How does singing help literacy and language development?

Repetition: The most basic reinforcement of words. Repeating words in simple songs and phrases is far more enjoyable than just repeating words in speech over and over again. It’s so much fun in fact that little ones and grown ups alike are probably unaware that they are repeating (and learning) the same words over and over again! It is also important for learning the songs by heart, something that pre-reading children have to do. This is why so many nursery rhymes and children’s songs have very simple words which are frequently repeated. 

New words: Songs introduce new words and concepts to children, either individually at home in a family setting or in community groups, small groups or classes in school, and providing the ‘prompt’ and the opportunity to talk about them. Think of the number of songs about, say, the seasons, or songs that tell stories, songs with a message, songs with a moral even!

Phonological Awareness and Speech: Another reading skill develops through singing as it enhances phonological awareness through you having to sing every syllable with the musical notes. As little ones do this, without realising it, they are identifying onset and rime. Singing helps children imitate and consolidate articulation skills because singing involves a clear articulation of sounds and words. They learn to pronounce sounds and words and manipulate them for effect. It is especially efficient in treating stuttering and developing diction.

Communication & Co-ordination: Songs with actions and signs not only reinforce learning but also encourage better co-ordination. This can be in the form of controlling movements with fingers so that the right number of fingers are held up for each verse of a counting song (eg. five lick crows). It can also be in making the correct movement of fingers and hands to express the words or mood of a song.

Memory: Songs also provide an enjoyable way to develop memory. There are counting songs, action songs, finger movement songs, songs which get longer with each verse, alphabet songs and story songs. I am sure that most of us can recall complete songs, even quite long ones, almost word for word. But very few of us could remember a story word for word. Remembering lyrics and learning timing teaches the brain to handle lots of tasks and get better at them so learning songs can improve mental agility and reading skills.

Co-operation & Communication: Singing in groups or in class also involves communication and co-operation, especially when children are sharing ideas and activities. Not only does this lay the foundations for future team work, it also encourages children to listen to each other, to learn from each other and to value each other.

Thank you to John Dabell and Judy Barker for the above

Singing helps to develop Attention Span

Singing is interesting for a baby so they won’t  just passively hear the sounds but will actively try to engage in listening to make sense of what is happening. This helps to develop your baby’s attention span – a key skill for cognitive development.

Danielle Ballantine-Drake

Photo by Elly Ross

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