When you look at the things that young kids are exposed to on a daily basis, is it any surprise many children gravitate to music in early learning? From books with sing-alongs to cartoon theme songs, children are exposed to music of all kinds starting very early in life. In fact, songs are a powerful teaching tool for growing vocabulary, reinforcing concepts and even introducing life lessons. Here are some ways music helps make learning a success for young kids and things you can do to make the most of it.
Why Teach With Music?
Music has been used to teach for many years. It's used for things as early in learning as the alphabet at day care programs. Think about this – can you still recite the alphabet song in your head? Music is effective for teaching because songs help children break information down into pieces. Those pieces often make it easier to remember, and songs can be presented in familiar ways, such as with the tune of a popular or favorite mainstream song. This is effective for many things – even phone numbers. There are several reasons why music works.
- Adding Music Creates Multi-Sensory Learning – When singing songs, kids will frequently move to the music, even if it's involuntary. Adding visual cues, movement and extra sensory input to the process engages many senses. From hopping to dancing, adding this movement and music to a lesson will help kids who have sensory needs to retain lessons. It's also great for auditory learners, because it presents information in a way that they can retain.
- Adding Music Makes New Information Seem Familiar – Any time you're introducing new information, connecting it to something familiar can help kids to process it. Consider setting the information to a familiar tune, replacing the words to a well-known song with the information that the kids should be learning. This provides the kids with a connection that makes new information seem familiar enough that it's easier to retain.
- Adding Music Enhances Creativity – Encourage kids to create their own personal songs to reinforce memorization. You can use sing-alongs as a foundation, because those songs are often familiar in early childhood. Make the song personal, because any time young kids feel like something is specifically about them, they're more likely to pay attention.
- Adding Music Encourages Cooperation – When you teach kids in a group, using sing-along songs can encourage cooperative play. Singing in rounds by dividing kids up into groups will help to encourage the kids to work together and may even build the foundations for friendships and play cooperation.
Tips for Integrating Music Into Teaching
- Rhyming Lessons – When teaching young children about rhyming, the natural structure of many children's songs makes for a great teaching tool. As kids hear the sounds at the ends of each sentence, they'll connect the similarities. This helps to translate rhyming from music to regular speech. When you're ready to teach rhyming lessons, introduce the concept and then support it with sing-alongs.
- Learning Fractions – When kids are learning fractions, music is a great tool. Learning the difference in music notes and the speed of the beat can help kids to grasp the concept of fractions. The faster the beat, the smaller the fraction. This kind of lesson serves two purposes, because it reinforces fraction learning while also teaching how to read music.
With music playing such a supportive role in reinforcing a child's early education, it's no wonder so many day care centers and preschools integrate music into many parts of the day. With the information here, you can understand how music helps and put it into practice in a few different ways.