There are many benefits to singing in early childhood. Studies have shown that singing can help with language development, memory, and even emotional regulation. Singing also has many physical benefits, like improving breathing and posture.
Singing is a great way for children to explore their creativity and have fun. And it's also a great way for educators, parents and guardians to bond with children. Here are four great benefits of singing in early childhood:
1. Singing can help children develop language skills
The ability to sing is a skill that is often taken for granted. However, singing can actually be very beneficial for children, especially when it comes to developing language skills.
When children sing, they are using their vocal muscles to produce sound. This helps them to develop the muscles needed for speaking. In addition, singing helps children to develop a good sense of rhythm and pitch, which are important for language development.
Singing also helps children to learn new words and to remember information:
- By hearing new words in a song, children can learn the meaning of the words and how to use them in context.
- Repetition also helps children to remember information, and singing provides a fun and enjoyable way for children to repeat words and phrases.
In addition, singing can also help children to improve their pronunciation and fluency.
2. Singing can help children develop social skills
Children who sing in a group or take part in other musical activities often develop stronger social skills than their peers who do not participate in such activities. This is because singing and playing music together require cooperation and teamwork. Children who are involved in musical activities also learn to appreciate the contributions of others and to work together towards a common goal.
Anne Belcher is an experienced music teacher and CELA facilitator. She works with families and early years educators to give them confidence to use music and singing to support early years development.
Group singing gives you a feeling of belonging,” she explains. “It gives you a feeling of being part of something that’s bigger than yourself.
This is consistent with research that suggests that singing can support a child’s sense of social inclusion, bolstered by positive increases to self-esteem.1
3. Singing can help children develop emotional skills
Singing is more than just a fun activity for children. It can also help them develop important emotional skills. When children sing, they use their whole bodies to express themselves. This can help them to better understand and control their emotions. Singing can also help children to feel more confident and secure and help them to bond with other children and adults.
Anne recommends singing nursery rhymes with children, saying that this can be particularly helpful during transitions and to support routines.
“The familiarity of the nursery rhyme, even if you’re changing the words to match the activity you’re doing, is calming for children,” she explains. “Emotionally it helps children to gain the space to understand their routines and be able to predict what they’re doing.”
“When you sing with people in a group, it releases endorphins, or feel good hormones,” she adds. “That’s really good for our children because it puts them in a place where they’re ready to learn, thrive and engage.
4. Singing can help children develop cognitive skills
Through singing, children can learn new concepts, such as counting or sequencing. The repetitive nature of many songs we use in early childhood, such as nursery rhymes, also helps to reinforce the learning.
One large Australian study looked at the impact of music in the home on cognitive development. The researchers found that informal music making had a greater impact on cognitive development—such as improved numeracy and attention–compared to reading together.2
If you’re happy and you know it, sing a song
Anne acknowledges that not everyone is a confident singer. Her strategy? Fake it ‘til you make it.
“We need to do lots of singing with the children in our early childhood education and care settings,” she says. “Singing releases feel good chemicals, the endorphins in our brains that make us feel happy. The deeper breathing required to sing is similar to that used in meditation, helping to lower our stress levels. Singing promotes healthy self esteem, builds self confidence and brings people together.
“As adults we often feel self-conscious about our voice but the children don’t care what your voice sounds like. They love it regardless.”
1. Welch, Graham & Himonides, Evangelos & Saunders, Jo & Papageorgi, Ioulia & Sarazin, Marc. (2014). Singing and social inclusion. Frontiers in psychology. 5. 803. 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00803.
2. Kate E. Williams, Margaret S. Barrett, Graham F. Welch, Vicky Abad, Mary Broughton. (2015). Associations between early shared music activities in the home and later child outcomes: Findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. Volume 31. Pages 113-124. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2015.01.004.
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