Sing to your child and help them to develop their own voice!
The Power of Singing
Singing to your child from the moment they are born is beyond powerful! It creates and strengthens your special connection and bond with your child, provides a beneficial precursor to learning language patterns, speech sounds, and helps to develop early literacy skills by exposing them to new words and vocabulary they may not otherwise hear in our everyday world. Additionally, singing to your child provides the foundations for their musical development, cognitive development and social-emotional development. It would therefore come as no surprise that by providing them with plenty of singing and musical play opportunities, their own singing voice will blossom.
Singing songs as part of your everyday routine such as while hanging up the washing or at lunchtime or while they are on the change table, provides comfort in transitions and more challenging parts of the day, as they can start to predict what will come next. The connection you create with them through singing will be a gift that keeps on giving, as they grow.
Adding Singing to Play
Play is how children learn best. So, use these chances when your child is playing with their toys to make up songs about what they are doing, commentating their actions as you go! They will love that you are singing about their interests and being silly and playful. Research shows that parents who connect with their children in these ways, will have stronger bonds with their children.
Some play-based ideas are:
Build a tower with blocks, sing notes going from low to high, so that as your child’s tower gets higher, your singing gets higher. If the tower falls, making a sliding sound going down with your voice from high to low. Following this up further down the track with playing a pitched instrument such as a xylophone, up and down the scale, will give your child a visual representation of the concept of pitch.
While they are playing on a swing, make some vocal sounds to match their movement.
While they are pushing their trains around the track, you could play a whistle for the train’s whistle and ask them if they can make a sound like that with their own voice.
Always be encouraging of them participating and making their own sounds within their play realm!
This is a wonderful way to help your child explore their voice and the sounds they can make. Making sounds for things like the siren of a fire engine or ambulance as it drives by, bird calls, animal sounds or sound effects in the books you read are a great way to encourage your little one to explore their voice as they are learning how to use it.
Soon enough, even babies will attempt to make sounds when referring to things, usually even before they are able to say the specific word.
By the age of 1, toddlers can “start to sing a melody with accurate control of pitch.” (Trevarthen and Malloch, 2002)
You can now start to leave off the last word of a phrase in a song and see how your child reacts. With you having already provided them with a house full of singing and music, your child will have the aural listening abilities to be able to recognise that something wasn’t quite right with how you sang the song that time and that you didn’t finish singing it. It essentially leaves it on a “cliff hanger”. They might react by making a movement, signalling to you to keep singing and finish the song, or you might hear them attempt to sing the word or phrase you left out. You may not realise it but small activities like this are such effective learning opportunities.
Children will soon realise that they can use their voice to sing songs and it is vital to nurture this. Therefore, as your child gains confidence in their singing abilities, make sure to keep providing lots of opportunities for them to sing solo and really encourage and support them in doing so. Singing solo will help them to strengthen their aural listening skills and pitch accuracy and ultimately, they will have more self-assurance and belief in their voice skills. Explain to your child that we all have our own singing voice that is uniquely ours, which is so special, that there is no one else in the world that will sing the same! Call and response music games where you sing a question and the child sings an answer are a fantastic way to develop their solo singing further! Why not switch it around and encourage your child to sing the question and then you can sing the answer. These types of music games also help to strengthen social interactions and your child’s language development as it imitates a conversation.
Positive experiences of singing and music with you, are not only an important part of your child's development, but as you can see, will enhance their learning and creativity.
Make singing part of your everyday! Make it fun, playful and spontaneous. Soon enough their own voice will shine through and once they start singing, they won’t stop!
Written by Michaela Ivory, Music and Singing Teacher, “The Musical Mum”.
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