Initially published on www.zavaletastudios.com
So if you have young children, it's likely you've heard about early literacy and the many, many things you can do to set your wee one up for success. Maybe you've built a book nook (we have!) or maybe you read seven stories before bed every night (bless your heart) or maybe you point out words and writing when you come across it in the real world. Whatever you're doing, you are probably rocking it.
And it's always a good idea to keep rocking it, especially when rocking out with the kiddos at a music class has such awesome literacy benefits. So here's a few key highlights about the incredible stuff that happens when you start to sing. Whether you're going to join us at Tiny Tots Música or you're going to sing in the shower with a kid or two, rock on.
Music Encourages Language
One of the most critical pieces for little ones getting read to talk, listen, read and write is being exposed to lots, and lots, and lots of words. Like really, lots. It turns out that we adults tend to use the same words over and over again in our speech- this is why reading books is so great. Even the simplest children's books tend to have more word variety than our everyday speech. If you're tired of read the same old farm board book, why not try singing the Beatles or dancing along to Wheels on the Buss? It doesn't matter what you sing, it matters that you sing. Otherwise your child may never know that there are yellow submarines where whole communities of people live. I mean really, when else would that word come up?
Music Helps Little Ones Learn To Listen
When my partner was learning English (he's a Spanish speaker) there were many words he would confuse. My two favourite sets of confusing-similar-sounding words are: mistletoe/mazeltov, and bear/bird/bear/bar/bare/beer. Now, I never would mix up mistletoe for mazeltov--- but they do sound very similar. Same with bear/bird/bear/bar/bare/beer-- very similar words. Listening to music has been shown time and again to support children as they learn to differentiate these kinds of words. So come on out, make sure your child hears you singing, and we'll make up a song about mistletoe and mazeltov, just in case we ever need to differentiate between those words.
Music Builds Relationships
Literacy is dependent on human relationships: we need each other in order to make sense of the world. Your children need you to show them how to tell stories, how to participate in a group, how to laugh and learn even when you're embarrassed because you hit the drum on the wrong beat (well, I'm teaching the twins this last one, because I can never stay on beat!). Making music with a community of people fosters relationship building, and relationships encourage growth and exploration. Children need these kinds of safe spaces in order to begin to explore language, storytelling, and indeed, music.
So keep rocking out. Rock out to your favourite oldies station. Rock out to Pandora. Rock out to Old McDonald. Rock out to classical jazz. Just rock out.
Chelsey is a digital storyteller, geek, mama, researcher and yogi. She loves to make things and her favorite food is artichokes.