Building Brains by Singing with Your Children

Parents, did you realize that children develop essential skills that help them learn how to read long before formal reading instruction begins? These are called early literacy skills, and they include vocabulary, print motivation, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills.

How do children gain these skills, exactly? The answer is simple. Through everyday nurturing interactions with you! When you talk, read, sing, and play with your children, you are helping them build these foundational skills, and you’re strengthening your bond with your child in the process. Win, win!

*This is the third post in a series of blogs about utilizing the early literacy practices (talk, read, sing, play) to foster your child’s development. This entry focuses on the practice of singing.

No musical training? No worries! It is your voice that soothes and comforts your child, describes the world to your child, lets your child know they are loved. Rest assured, your singing voice can do all of that, too. The benefits of singing and engaging your child in musical experiences extend across all domains of development, including the following:

Language/Literacy

  • Singing fosters phonological awareness, the ability to hear and manipulate units of sound.
  • It reinforces and develops vocabulary, especially if unfamiliar words are explained.

Social/Emotional

  • Singing to or with your child is a positive and nurturing interaction that strengthens your bond.
  • It can ease transitions between activities and help a less desirable activity be more fun.
  • It can calm a fussy baby or toddler (and a hardworking parent).

Cognitive

  • Singing and related musical activities promote the development of crucial executive functioning skills. These skills are deemed essential for school readiness and include a child’s ability to focus attention, utilize working memory, and exercise self-control. Learn how to use music and other everyday activities to foster these skills in your child from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

Physical

  • Young children strengthen muscles and develop gross motor skills as they move to music.
  • Young children develop fine motor skills when they practice fingerplays (e.g., Itsy Bitsy Spider, Where Is Thumbkin, etc.).

Tips

Add more music to your family’s routine by trying one or more of the following activities:

  • Make up a lullaby for your child. Find inspiration with the endearing Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project.
  • Insert your child’s name into familiar tunes, like “Old [Mateo] Had a Farm.”
  • Share fingerplays and action rhymes with your child. Check out the library’s Fingerplay Fun videos to expand your repertoire.
  • Make a shaker, like these. Or these!
  • Make a drum set with pots, pans, food storage containers, and wooden spoons for mallets.
  • Make a playful craft microphone for you and your child, and put on a show.
  • Plan a family dance party or a family lip syncing contest.
  • Read musical books! View a handy dandy musical book list here.
  • Read nursery rhymes! View a handy dandy nursery rhyme book list here.

Enjoy singing and engaging in other musical experiences with your child! Find information and tips about the other early literacy practices here: talking, reading, and playing.

Additional Resources 

Baby Music: The Soundtrack to Your Child’s Development

A resource from UNICEF on how making music, not just listening to it, impacts child development. Includes a link to a related Mini Parenting Masterclass (5 minutes).

Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

An article from NAEYC and Zero to Three on how music supports each domain of development and what early childhood professionals can do to enhance early learning experiences with music.

Dance Party with Freegal!

There is nothing quite like dancing and singing with your little ones.

If you are anything like me, you are always on the hunt for fun, appropriate, kid friendly tunes. The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library is here to help with your music needs! If you want free unlimited music streaming and free downloads of music/music videos you can keep, then you want to try Freegal. Eau Claire cardholders receive five downloads per week.

There are so many apps these days that it can get confusing to wade through them all. One of the best things about Freegal is how easy it is to set up and use.

How to Get Started

Download the Freegal App (from Google Play or Apple Store) or go to the Freegal website.

Mobile Device

  • Enter your zip code, city or county and select “continue.”
  • Select “L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.”
  • Enter your library card number and last name.

Desktop

  • Click the “Log In” button on the top right portion of your screen.
  • Enter your library card number, last name, and email address.

For Everyone: Find Music

  • Use the search menu to look up artists you enjoy. To limit your search to children’s music, use the “browse” feature. Limit your search to “genre” and select “childrens.”

Download, stream, and enjoy the music!

Book Recs from our Young Adult Advisory Board

Did you know that Youth Services has a special advisory board for teen services, run by the teens themselves? The Young Adult Advisory Board (YAAB) meets each month to discuss ideas for programs, teen materials, and much more! Teen members recently created a booklist of some of their favorite teen reads to share with you all.

Check out these book recommendations for you or the teens in your life. Teen reads recommended by teens for other teens. What’s better than that?

Young Adult Advisory Board Teens Recommend…

To find out more about our current Young Adult Advisory Board, head over to the Teen Lounge @ Home Blog for member profiles.The Young Adult Advisory Board (YAAB) is open to teens in grades 6 through 12. YAAB currently meets virtually on the 1st Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. to discuss ideas for programs, materials, activities in the Teen Lounge and ways to make the library a better place for teens. Always accepting new members: apply today!