Singing for Literacy
"Sing me a song. . .”
Seriously. If a child is an early learner they want you to sing me a song as often as you can, because research proves it will help them to develop their literacy. There’s a reason that music and singing have been a part of education and schooling since it began. Music and singing are incredible ways for young children to develop their vocabulary, phonemic awareness, fluency, comprehension, and verbal memory. It has also been shown to improve socio-emotional development, fine/gross motor skills, and listening skills.
SEG Measurement, an independent research firm, conducted a study titled, Improving Student Language and Literacy Skills: A Study of the Effectiveness of the ABC Music and Me Program. This study concludes that students who have a substantial music program included in their daily curriculum “Made significantly greater gains in language and literacy skills as compared to students in classes that did not.” (SEG Measurement, 2013, p.1)
At the age of one, children should be making lots of sounds and some identifiable words. By age two their speech capabilities will explode to include a vocabulary of over 100 words which grows to around 300 by the time they’re two and a half. Much of this is due to the fact that the child is becoming more cognitive of the speech of the adults around them. They begin to pick up and remember words they hear, words from books that are read to them, and of course words from the songs that are sung to them.
Singing with your child/students is something most parents and teachers do anyway, but it’s easy to overlook how truly important it can be. The familiarity and repetitive nature of children’s songs help promote the child’s verbal memory, vocabulary, fluency, phonemic awareness, and comprehension. These are all skills incredibly important to literacy development. While singing the child is working on their pronunciation of sounds and words which will help in their speech and learning to read. Fluency is also developed when the child learns to keep a continuous flow of speech through the song. By discussing the song, and listening to themselves sing the words, they inherently begin to use comprehension skills as well. If the song has actions such as clapping, spinning, or making shapes with the fingers it also helps with their motor skill development. Listening skills are also honed while the child listens to you in order to learn the words and flow of the song.
As younger children have not yet learned to read, auditory learning is one of their best avenues to begin developing their literacy skills. Having stories read to them is certainly helpful, but through singing songs the child has the opportunity to take an active role in, and ownership of, their literacy development.
SEG Measurement. (2013). Improving Student Language and Literacy Skills: A Study of the Effectiveness of the ABC Music and Me Program. Retrieved from http://media.kindermusik.com/docs/PDF/ABCMusicMeEffectivenessSummary-FINAL.pdf
Photo Courtesy of dlofink, Flickr Creative Commons
About Hannah T
I am a 2010 graduate with a degree and certification in Elementary Ed., and I have worked with students from birth to junior high. I believe that one of the most important qualities to surviving a teaching career is a sense of humor. I also strongly feel that students are most successful when they are active and hands-on learners. My Mom was a Special Ed. teacher for almost 30 years, and my Dad was an English major, so I enjoy bouncing blog ideas off the two of them. This usually results in an exchange of great stories with my Mom, and a correction in my writing from my Dad. When they're not available, the job falls to my rescue dog, Coozie.