Summer is finally HERE……..
So we want to HEAR everyone SING!
This month we want to sing the praises of MUSIC and its valuable place in speech and language therapy. One of the first things that any mom, dad, grandparent or caregiver shares with a new baby is the gift of music. Everyone has sung a soft lullaby to a crying newborn or a cute version of “Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes” during bath time. Music is a natural mode of communication between a caregiver and a child. That is why it is such a good tool for use in speech and language intervention by therapists, parents and caregivers. Children, even young babies, respond very positively to music and the rhythm and structure that it provides. The bonus is that music can provide unique opportunities to introduce new language concepts and practice familiar ones. How many times can a child hear “Row Row Your Boat” and not get tired of hearing it? The answer is almost NEVER. That is why music affords therapists and caregivers the chance to “practice” skills with many repetitions all while the child just thinks that he is getting to sing his favorite song a million times!
There are some tips that I like to give parents when they are using music to build and support their child’s language development. You can see these tips in action as I work with a young child that is receiving early intervention speech therapy services. Notice his responses to my words, actions and requests….he is quite the captive audience!
TIPS FOR USING MUSIC WITH YOUR CHILD:
– Use a slow pace….even slower than you talk. This allows the child to actually hear each word that is being sung and allows them the chance to try to join in or at least imitate some of the words
– Choose short, simple and repetitive songs. This keeps the child’s attention and gives them plenty of opportunities to hear the words and pattern which helps them practice with or without you singing with them
– Use hand motions, body movements or props to go with your songs. This engages the child beyond the listening level and allows them to participate even if they are unable to sing the words yet. It also is a great attention grabber and motivator to participate. Involving as many sensory modalities the better!
– Give them something to anticipate like a tickle, hug or even “sting” (Baby Bumblebee Song). This again gets their attention and then holds it while they are anticipating that fun finale!
BONUS…….MUSIC IS ALSO A GREAT TOOL FOR LISTENING AND FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS!
If you have a toddler or preschooler, know one or even have been around one then you have heard and possibly sung the “Clean Up” song. This cute and very repetitive little tune is very popular with this age group, but the best part is that it actually works! Kids hear the familiar tune and learn to sing the song all while they are actually cleaning up. What is the trick? Well, things are a lot more fun and engaging if you are singing while you do them. And after you have sung it a couple of hundred times, they are actually listening to the words and following the directions.
This same concept can be used for just about anything that you want a child to do. Examples include using familiar nursery rhyme tunes to teach new vocabulary concepts. “This is a ball, this is a ball….see it bounce, see it bounce” (sung to the tune of Where is Thumbkin) is a good way to teach new words and their descriptive concepts (color, shape, size, function or location).
Music is also great for working on sequencing, especially for those children that have difficulty with auditory processing and recall. You can sing the steps of the sequence to a familiar tune like “First you get your socks, next you get your shoes, last you put them on your feet and then you are through.” (Sung to the tune of Row Row Your Boat).
We hope that you find these tips and ideas helpful for using music with your child. Just remember that the words and the special bond that music creates are what your child will remember the most…..not your ability, or lack thereof, to sing well!
So start singing this summer and help build your child’s language and great memories!
Also, if you are not sure about your own singing abilities or just want to add some variety to your child’s song list check out some great CD’s by Rachel Arntson at www.TalkItRockIt.com. They are great for young children working on imitation skills from single sounds all the way up to sentences. Rachel presents sounds and words in a fun and entertaining way!