Make a joyous noise! You’ll be doing your baby’s brain good. Of course, singing is also fun! Songs make language accessible and memorable for young children. (See our last SINGING post about using new words in old tunes, particularly when trying to get children to do a task.)
Children’s songs and nursery rhymes often slow down and stretch out speech. This allows young children to hear all the sounds that make up each word, and language in general. Think of a song like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Clap along as you sing, and you’ll find that each multisyllabic word is broken into parts; Ma-ry had a lit-tle lamb, lit-tle lamb, lit-tle lamb… (You’re trying it now, aren’t you?) In addition to breaking down long words, Old MacDonald uses sounds as part of the song, including both animal sounds (moo, baa, neigh) and letter sounds (E-I-E-I-O).
Breaking down words into syllables and sounds while children sing (or listen to someone else sing) helps them tackle new words, either spoken or reading. It is important for children to be able to differentiate these distinct sounds in spoken words so they can later identify those sounds in print, and put together what they know to “sound out” words as emerging readers.
Parents, the best part about singing with your baby is that it’s completely portable – no toys necessary. Sing while you walk, sing in the car, sing in the tub, sing wherever you are! You’re a star, and your little one is your biggest fan.