Is Singing Your Superpower?

Emma Spiers, Independent Early Learning Consultant, Trainer and Author, The Learning Lady
4th September 2023

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I bet you didn’t realise that singing with your 2,3 and 4-year-olds is a superpower! Songtime is good for all types of development and it’s fun too, but there’s a hidden power in singing with our youngest children. Singing songs is the perfect preparation for Phonics and reading, and here’s why! 

Super Speech Sounds 

Whenever our children are singing, they’re effectively giving their mouth muscles a gym workout! Just like doing reps at the gym, the repetition of singing songs builds the mouth muscle strength needed for clear and effective speech. As Phonics is a system that relies heavily on matching spoken sounds with letters, strong mouth muscles are critical for reading too. 

Improved breath control also develops as children sing. Some phrases are long, some are short, some sounds are short and bouncy and some are long and stretchy. School-aged children go through exactly the same process in an abstract way when letters and sounds are introduced, so singing is the perfect preparation.

Can you remember hearing this? 

Can you still remember popular TV ads from childhood? The memories of words and sounds we’ve heard get stored in the part of the brain responsible for auditory memories, usually through lots of repetition.  

Auditory memory is essential for phonics  

Success in Phonics requires school-aged children to have incredibly well-trained auditory memories. They remember the spoken sounds matched to letters in order, recalling the words they’ve read in a whole sentence from beginning to end. Phew! 

So many school-aged children struggle with auditory memory. Whether it’s following simple instructions, counting in order,  or remembering the words in a sentence. As preschool practitioners, we have the superpower to help! 

Singing is brilliant brain training 

Singing is the perfect brain training for building auditory memory. When we sing with our 2,3 and 4-year-olds they remember the words, the order of the words and the tune, all at the same time. 

Dangerous singalongs! 

It’s so easy to default to using videos to support singing sessions. They’re easy to use and the children really like them. But there’s a massive danger to relying on video at song time.  

Watch out for Baby Shark 

When children watch a song video, they focus on the visuals first. This stimulates the part of the brain responsible for visual, rather than auditory, memory. The children know that they’ll be singing about Grandpa Shark in the next verse because of the visual changes, rather than remembering the Grandpa Shark verse in the order of the song.  

So, watching and joining in with video content is actually harmful, rather than helpful, to the development of auditory memory. Who would have thought that such a simple switch could have such a significant impact? In a world where children are constantly exposed to visual stimulation and distraction, it’s a good idea to consider singing as a time to focus on auditory memory, without visual distractions. 

We’re on a singing journey 

As with all aspects of early learning, singing skills take time to develop and your children will be somewhere along that path. Dialling in auditory memory and building mouth strength and control, takes lots of practice, so repetition is vital.  

With this learning journey in mind, we need to think about the songs we introduce and the order which we teach them. Afterall, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is so much easier to learn than One Man Went To Mow! 

It can be so easy to fall into a trap of singing favourite songs, matching songs to themes, or singing the same songs because finding new ones takes time. But a clear progression of songs, matched to development, is a key feature that inspectors are looking for as part of a ‘Good’ Ofsted judgement.

Things to think about 

Are the songs you’re currently singing matched to the age and developmental stage of the children?  

Do songs build progressively in difficulty over time, as mouth muscles and auditory memory develop?  

For Singing Superheroes Everywhere! 

So singing is a superpower that prepares children for Phonics spectacularly well, but all superheroes need a bit of inspiration from time to time!  

If you’re looking for new game-based songs to enjoy singing with your preschoolers, then this FREE downloadable songbook is just for you. The song words are super simple and the tunes have super speedy clickable linksHere’s to sharing your singing superpower and super successful singing sessions! 

Connect with Emma on Linkedin, join in with the songs and games on Youtube, explore pre-phonics on Pinterest or visit her website for more information.

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