Why should you sing with your child? How will this help your child learn to read?
Here is a short list:
- Singing slows down language. It helps children hear the smaller sounds in words. There is often a different note for each syllable, so they hear words broken down into parts – a key skill in language development. This exposure helps children later sound out words.
- Songs often have interesting words that we would not hear in normal conversation with young children, so they help build vocabulary.
- Songs often rhyme, which helps children hear the similarities and differences between words.
- Singing is a shared activity, which creates an opportunity for bonding with your child
- Songs for children often include actions. Physical actions help language-learners learn and retain information faster – no matter whether they are a native or a non-native speaker.
- It’s fun!
But you're not a good singer, you say? I cannot stress this to your enough -- you do not have to sing well in order to sing to your child. Your child will benefit when you sing to and with them, no matter how tin your ear is. Your child wants to hear you sing, they want to sing with you – they do not care that you have no musical training or that you struggle to carry a tune!
Tips and recommendations
- Books that can be sung (for example, Sharon, Lois & Bram's Skinnamarink) are a great way to include some singing in your day, especially if you feel a little awkward breaking into song.
- If you are comfortable with straight-up singing then a great source for songs, fingerplays and nursery rhymes is JBRARY, which is a Youtube Channel run by two children’s librarians. You can search specifically for songs for babies. The lyrics are included in the video comments and there are often fun actions to do along as you sing.
- If you feel creative and / or goofy enough then you can always up your own songs about daily activities (getting dressed, changing diapers).
- If you prefer a more traditional approach you can also check out collections of rhymes and songs for young children that include a CD to help you get the tunes. For example, the Usborne Nursery Rhyme Songbook.
- If you are reading this in a post-COVID world then going to a library Babytime is another great way to incorporate songs. You’ll learn new ones, you’ll meet other parents and singing in a group can be less daunting than singing alone.
- Singing books for this age are a lot of fun. Your child is likely to know the melody, if not the lyrics, by this point, which makes this part very amusing for all involved. A great example of this is Seals on the bus.
- JBRARY continues to be a great resource for toddlers. Mmm Aaaa went the little green frog is a great example of how songs can break down the sounds and parts of speech and given children an opportunity to practise those sounds.
- Another great way to include music into your regular routine is to go to a toddler time or storytime at the library – either online or in person. You'll meet new people, hear new songs and get to practise singing all together in a group.
2 years and beyond
- Singing books continue to be a great resource and children love them. I often read Groovy Joe or Pete the Cat at storytime and I cannot emphasize enough how popular these are.
- JBRARY also has songs for older children.
- Another great way to include music into your regular routine is to go to storytime at the library – either online or in person. You'll meet new people, hear new songs and get to practise singing all together in a group.
And, of course, don’t forget to