Sing a Song and Learn New Words

Did you know you remember what you learn better if you use more of your senses during the learning? It’s true, the more of your five senses you can engage in the learning process, the more likely you are to remember the information. This is because your brain builds multiple pathways to the information. Using music to learn new words is a great way to create “stickiness” for those words. You can help your children increase their vocabularies by encouraging them to sing. Here are some ideas.

1. When your children are babies, sing them to sleep with lullabies. You don’t have to be a great singer. Babies love the sounds of their parent’s voices. Just cuddle and give a soft version of “Hush, Little Baby Don’t Say a Word”.

2. Toddlers love funny, silly, rhyme-filled songs. Sing while you march around the house or during bath time. Encourage your child to sing with you while you drive or cook dinner. Favorites like “Old McDonald Had a Farm” where you can have your child fill in the next animal are terrific at strengthening vocabulary recall. Toddlers also appreciate songs with accompanying action like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. Singing is loads of fun and giggles for everyone and a good way for children to practice the sounds of our language.

3. Put on a record of your favorite singer and sing along. Dance around the living room pretending you are “Live on-stage”. Have your children join in.

4. Watch a Broadway musical on DVD or tape. Once your family has seen the movie, get the CD and sing along. Have each family member sing one of the character roles and everybody join in for the chorus.

5. Encourage your child to join a choir at church or school. Your child will learn words associated with your belief system from the music designed to accompany your church celebrations. School choirs often perform a variety of music with a diversity of vocabulary springing from the source and topic of the songs.

6. Sing along with the radio. Tune to different stations occasionally to change the word selections you’ll be singing.

7. Play American Idol with your family. Pick a category of songs and have each person sing a song from that category. The categories could be show tunes, a song by a particular group, tunes from the 80’s, favorite camp songs, or any other groupings you can think of.

Words absorbed through these playful methods become second nature to your child. So the next time you start singing silly songs with your kids or sweet lullabies to your baby, do so with confidence that you are helping them on the road to literacy.

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