Singing in the early years
Kate Maines-Beasley's top tips
I noticed that he sang this much slower than most adults would sing it, and that his movements were as important as the singing. It felt like his arms were propelling him through the song.
smile and enjoy
Show you enjoy singing and have fun.
This will engage your child for longer and make it more likely they will join in with you.
You also make a better sound when you smile.
Younger children’s brains need time to process new information.
In the north east we speak fast, and this fast pace often gets taken into our singing.
Listen out for your child singing a song to themselves. It is likely that they sing it much slower than you would as an adult.
Slowing right down makes it easier for your child to join in.
don’t pressure a child to sing, they will when they are ready
Do not worry if your child does not sing.
Their brains are processing such a lot of information as they watch and listen to you.
They will join in when they are ready.
repeat and repeat
When this video was taken, I had been singing along to this musical toy for a while. What you see and hear here, is about the tenth time around. Watch closely to see the differences between the first time and the second time around. Can you see how much more the girl is able to join in with the second time? Which words does she attempt? I am using Makaton signing which she is copying.
It’s essential to repeat songs to give children’s brains time to process the information, and work out if they
know the song you are singing
would like to join in with you
Sing songs at least twice through, more if possible.
It is far better to choose one song with repeated sections and spend ten minutes enjoying making up new words, than it is to rattle through a song bag and sing ten different songs once each.
I am also using ‘in the ring’ a lot at the moment, and notice the two and three years olds will join in with the ‘la, la, la, la, la , la’ section first before any other parts of the song.
Your child will not get bored repeating the same songs unless you do!
sing clearly (enunciate)
Do your best to sing words clearly as this makes it easier for your child to copy you.
face-to-face with eye contact
Enjoy special bonding time with your child, by facing your child and looking into their eyes. Eye contact is one of the most basic elements of communication and singing to your child whilst holding their eye contact is an excellent way to support their early communication skills.
sing all day not just at song time
Your voice is your very own musical instruments and you carry it with you at all times. Use it! You can sing about anything, at any time, anywhere.
sing about what is happening now and next to support with routines
Take any simple tune and make it be your song about: brushing teeth, getting ready, eating dinner, bath time, any regular routines. London Bridge works well.
Try singing ‘Time for us to…..’ and insert whatever you are doing, then simply repeat and repeat. This supports your child in their comprehension of an instruction and connecting language to a physical object or action.
incorporate actions, body language and gesture
Take a look at this boy’s response to Miss Polly Had a Dolly. He shows us his comprehension through body language and gesture, which comes before speech.
Movement is one of a child’s first languages
Body language makes up a huge part of our day-to-day communication with others.
Younger children must be enabled to explore their own body language and how to express themselves through this silent language.
Incorporate simple actions, or use Makaton to support your singing.
Your child may join in with the gestures or actions before they sing, and this should be valued as much as their verbal communication.