You’re used to saying the “ABC”s with your children, but did you know singing the “Do Re Mi”s together can help them read better, too? Research supports music to be helpful in contributing to their development.
Reading Rockets, a national multimedia literacy initiative that offers information and resources on how young children learn to read, reports how impactful music is in children’s literacy.
According to the Reading Rockets report, “Music promotes language acquisition, listening skills, memory, and motor skills. Songs introduce new words, often ones that rhyme or repeat, which makes them easy to learn. Singing also facilitates bonds between adult and child.”
Directly working with music is one way children can partake of the benefits music has on children’s development and literacy.
Taking music lessons, whether it is an instrument or vocals, can help children be more involved with music. Molly Cowley, a local violin teacher, believes playing an instrument can help children keep their brain active.
“I can say that playing an instrument while reading sheet music requires functions from different sides of the brain, and so in lessons we are always stretching their cognitive abilities,” says Cowley. “Learning the violin also requires the development of spatial reasoning and fine motor skills that may not be gained by just sitting at a desk in school.”
Many studies, including ones from the University of Toronto and John Hopkins University, have supported the use of music to support cognition. According to the research, children who play music have to use more of their brain. They also found that children who received weekly instruction and music practice have greater fine motor abilities and sound discrimination.
These skills developed from music exposure can help children become better readers. There has been research supporting fine motor skills being a predictor of later math, reading and science scores. Sound discrimination can help children distinguish sounds in words and develop better word recognition when reading.
While having music lessons for children may work for many families, children don’t have to be trained musicians to benefit from music. By just exposing your children to music you can support their learning. Music is a stimulating activity, with several benefits for children’s development.
Laura Kilpatrick, a retired music teacher, explains how simple music exposure is beneficial for children.
“When children listen to music, both lyrical and instrumental, they are able to be exposed to pattern recognition and rhythm.”
She continues, “listening to music that is not familiar to them is also another great way to introduce children to new cultures and is a fantastic opportunity for learning. Parents can teach their children about composers, time periods, and different styles of music.”
Parents can take the time to find books or other reading material to discover further knowledge about the different kinds of music.
Another simple thing parents can do with children to encourage music and literacy is to sing at home.
“If parents want an easy way to expose their children to music, just sing as a family!” says Cowley. “Sing loud, silly songs in the car or while cleaning up the house. It does not have to be perfect to have amazing benefits.”
“Think of the confidence instilled in a child when they see their parents singing loud and proud, unconcerned about what others may think. If they aren’t confident enough to make a mistake, they will never stretch or improve, and that confidence really starts at home.”
Learning how to read or improve reading skills takes much practice and confidence as well. Encouraging your children to develop consistency and confidence is crucial to their literacy success.
Making music a part of your home can be as simple as inventing fun dances, making homemade instruments, or just having a Disney song sing-along.
Music can truly be a fun way to continue to keep your children engaged in the learning process.
“Teaching children to love music will help allow children grow in unique ways,” Kilpatrick says. “Music and the development of children really do work more closely than you may think and, as a result, offer greater benefits than you would have imagined.”
Ashley Mendoza, www.heraldextra.com, www.msidallas.com