Studies have shown children who are involved in musical activities are better at Reading, Literacy and Numeracy. One of the benefits of singing is that it is the fastest way to internalise music and something everyone can participate in regardless of their disability, ethnic origin or economic background.
A positive effect on boosting confidence and self-esteem.
Singing is well known for helping reduce stress and anxiety but is often overlooked within the education system as simply a fun, nice thing for children to do. However, introducing traditional folk and nursery rhymes to children, has other hidden benefits for children’s development.
There are many benefits of singing, in particular, learning through unaccompanied singing. Singing songs helps promote language building, phonemic awareness, structure, rhyming and creativity.
Using traditional songs and rhymes provide a rich bank of child-appropriate language. It supports speaking skills through structured slowed down language, has rhythm and pattern structure. Rhymes and songs also have intonation and phrasing like in speech. Singing develops good listening skills, memory and retention.
Children who notice similarities and differences in sound (pitch awareness) have also been found to have a greater phonemic awareness and enhanced spatial awareness skills.
Children love this rhyme and it has plenty of content to help literacy.
Rat a tat tat
Who is that?
Only a poor little pussy cat.
What do you want?
A pint of milk.
Where’s your money?
In my pocket.
Where’s your pocket?
I forgot it!
Oh you silly pussy cat!
Speech and language
1. Rhyming words: rat, tat, cat, that, pocket, forgot it.
These help children understand words that share common sounds this can help with spelling out. The same is true of Cobbler, Cobbler below.
2. Structure: This is a question and answer rhyme clearly showing question then answer. Use intonation in your voice to show a higher pitch at the end of questions, just as we do in speech and conversation. You can use this rhyme to encourage the children to say the answers to your questions or vice versa. A cat puppet is a must though!
3. Expression: The phrasing and structure allows for voice expression helping children understand the art of conversation and emotions. This rhyme is also telling a story which is very important for children to learn with a sequence of events.
Songs and rhymes play a great role in speech and language development.
The following song is one of my favourites for teaching pulse and pitch however again this has lots of language content, rhyming words, rhythm pattern and also tells a story and concepts of before and after. Children can also understand what a Cobbler is. Someone who mends shoes. The song provides not only new words but a relevant context.
Singing traditional songs and rhymes engages children who may not normally join in other school activities.
Sometime ago a teaching assistant approached me for advice regarding teaching music to children. I ran a workshop and she took away some ideas she could use in class. She mentioned a boy who struggled to concentrate with any school work (Year 1) and he was thought to have some autistic tendencies. She later mentioned how different he had been during the singing session and how he had joined in particularly loving the puppets.
Traditional folk songs and rhymes
The Kodály approach uses traditional folk songs and rhymes in the culture’s own mother-tongue.
The benefits of singing these songs and rhymes and using the Kodaly approach means:
- From an early start prepares a child’s ear, voice and brain for language.
- Through logical, small steps children learn musical elements pulse, pitch and rhythm.
- They are able to identify faster/slower and louder/quieter as well as being able to distinguish between a ‘singing’ and a ‘speaking’ voice, all vital kills for reading.
- Physical movement and actions which accompany songs and rhymes also promote balance, co-ordination and spatial awareness.
- Performance, leadership and group work also promote more confident learners.
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