How Music Helps Language and Literacy

There are lots of ways you can enrich your child’s language and literacy skills. Music is one of them. It is hard to deny that children love music. So it will be easy to boost your child’s language and literacy development by engaging them in any kind of music. Here are some ways to promote language and literacy skills through music.

HOW MUSIC HELPS LANGUAGE SKILLS

Songs introduce new words and concepts to children. For example, basic concepts such as ‘in’ and ‘out’ displayed in the action song, “Hokey Pokey,” (i.e. you put your right hand in and you take your right hand out) are taught by pairing it with the actions. I encourage you to have some fun with the song and sing it when putting on your child’s winter gear. Here are some examples:

  • As you are putting on their jacket you can sing, “You put your right hand in; you put your right hand out; you put your right hand in and you shake it all about; you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around that’s what it’s all about!”
  • As you are putting on snow pants, “you put your left leg in; you put your left leg out….
  • As you are putting on boots, “you put you right foot in and you put your right foot out…

Tip: Always offer your child a turn to participate in the song by saying or pointing to which item to put on next (e.g. “boots or hat”?)

Now that your child understands the concepts, “in” and “out”, you can introduce new vocabulary. One idea is to change the words of the song, ‘Hokey Pokey’ from using body parts to vehicles. For example, “Put the red car in, take the red car out, then a blue truck, yellow airplane, green train etc. Repeat the song and use it again while playing with a toy garage or for the dads in the group, the real thing. Move the car in and out of the garage while singing the song with the new vocabulary. All it takes is a little creativity to a well-rehearsed tune and the opportunity to use music to introduce new vocabulary will provide endless fun for your child.

HOW MUSIC HELPS LITERACY SKILLS

Another opportunity to teach language and literacy skills as you children get a bit older is through song books. Song books put the lyrics of the song to text. Using a song book allows children to sing along to their favourite song while using their finger to follow along in the book. You can model this technique to your child first by pointing to the words as they sing than you sing and they point to the words. At first, you can always assist them by guiding their hand. Songs repeat words and create predictability similar to the song books. The repetition of the words will be repeated in print form which allows children the ability to learn new vocabulary. Some song books include, “Wheels on the Bus”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, and “Five little monkeys jumping on the bed.”

Children can learn rhyming patterns and sound patterns through the songs. Singing provides them with the opportunity to learn how to manipulate word and letter patterns. As research illustrates, it is these rhyming patterns in songs that will help your child develop decoding skills.

Tip: Try singing songs that allow your child to not only listen to the words that rhyme but also to generate words that rhyme. For example, one song which allows for a bunch of giggles while creating rhymes is the song, “Down by the Bay.” Check out this website for a list of more songs that promote the recognition and production of rhymes.

Did you know? We offer a music group aimed at promoting language skills for 2-3 and 3-4 year olds? Click here to find out more about our Speech Melodies program!

Teri Lynam is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist with ten years of experience working in the field of communication disorders. She has a special interest in early language, literacy development, acquired brain injury, motor speech and resonance disorders. Teri is committed to providing individualized family-centered therapy in a fun and supportive environment.