What’s in a Song? Six Things You Need to Know About Singing With Young Children

Sing with your children and you will give them a gift that keeps on giving for a life-time! But some of us feel daunted by the very idea. Maybe we weren’t sung to, or feel self-conscious about competing with the plethora of professionally recorded children’s albums. Maybe we don’t realize we’re already doing it, and that it’s easier than we thought. Wherever you’re at, I hope that this post will give you some simple ideas that build your confidence and enjoyment of singing with your children.

This article was first published by Nadja Flowerdew @ Weaving Rainbows on 29 October 2018. To read more of her articles, make your way over to weaving-rainbows.co.uk.

First of all, if you already sing with your kids – a huge well done to you, because that is the most important point I am going to make in this article.

1. Sing, sing, and sing again! No matter what, when, where or how, whether operatic arias or a simple spoken rhyme – if you sing with your child you are giving them a wonderful gift. You are engaging with them, fostering their enjoyment of human interaction, teaching them to read body language and pick up social clues, giving them a chance to mimick and imitate you, introducing them to the joys of listening, soothing their discomfort and in the process giving them a vital tool to get over life’s many bumps and scrapes. In short, you are doing a fantastic job as a parent! But there are a few simple considerations which, if you heed them, will make the experience even more enjoyable for both of you and help your child acquire a good ear.

2. Move to the music. We often do this instinctively, swaying baby in time to a lively dance tune or rocking them softly to sleep singing a lullaby. Our toddlers love rowing their boat and bouncing on our knees riding to market with Father, Mother and Uncle John. It’s so important! Singing and movement are inextricably linked. According to one study I read, a young child’s ability to keep a steady beat is the best predictor for later academic success. And as the wonderful Nikhil Dally of Stepping Notes impressed on us at a recent teacher training course,  the voice gives accuracy to the body because simultaneous singing and moving requires conscious listening. So move as much as you can and turn singing into a multisensory experience. There are many different ways to do this, from simply patting the pulse to a variety of rhythmic actions. You can bounce baby or bounce a stuffed toy, wave a scarf or play peek-a-boo, go on a bear hunt or chop food, walk, run, skip, crawl – the choice is yours!

3. Rhymes are great! They contain all the rhythmic elements but are simpler than songs, making them especially suitable for very young children who may want to copy you, but for whom a certain tune may be too complex. It’s also a great starting point for adults who want to sing with their kids but may lack the confidence. Rhymes are fantastic in their own right – I love using them as a teacher because you can stitch a story together so easily. I often “cook” with my music school children – “Chop, chop, choppity chop| chop off the bottom and chop off the top| what there is left we will put in the pot| chop, chop, choppity chop.” Then we “Stir it round| stir it round| tell me what you have found.” Or we make a cup of tea – there’s a huge selection, and tickling rhymes such as “Round and round the garden” or “Criss, cross, applesauce” are a wonderful way to get the giggles going.