At Studio E we often get inquiries from parents with toddlers with speech development problems. Some of the most popular questions are “ Should my child know more words than this?” and “ My child rarely uses language, and only communicates with noises and movements”. As a parent, you are told that music can help your child with speech and language development, but have you ever been told why? In the DiscoverE program at Studio E, we are committed to not only educating children about the wonders of music, but also to educating parents and caregivers about how music can benefit their child.
So how does music help your child in regards to speech and language?
The most successful children’s songs are the ones that use simple and easy to pronounce words, as well as repetition. This formula is something you probably recognize from songs like “Mary had a Little Lamb”, “Head Shoulders Knees and toes”, and the more recent “Baby Shark”. Producers purposely create songs with this pattern, so that they are easy to remember and also catchy enough to get stuck in your head. As a parent, these “ear worm” songs can be viewed as annoying or ridiculous, but as children the repetition is an amazing way to develop memory and word retrieval skills. Repetition of songs and words can help the child acquire new vocabulary which promotes Auditory Discrimination – the ability to differentiate sounds in language. To add to this experience we can add actions or signals to each word in order to help the children not only remember each word, but understand what that particular phrase is saying.
Music and language are extremely similar. In language we use letters to construct a phrase and in music we use notes and tones. Each time we add a letter to a word, or a tone to a song we are further developing that particular phrases meaning. Music closely mirrors the tempo, pitch and rhythm of normal speaking patterns. As children, we use the musical aspects of language in order to form words and thoughts. This can be seen in ECE classrooms when the educator claps along to the syllable’s of words, or when a child mimics the tone/pitch of a word or phrase being said to them. Children understand that tone indicates feeling way before they learn the meaning of a word or sentence. This is seen when an infant cries because they see someone else crying, or a child stomps their feet when upset. When we introduce music in Early Childhood, it teaches children tone, pitch, timbre and tempo in a way that is easy to grasp and understand. It is also more effective to introduce new words and concepts through songs, because songs are easily repeated and also emotionally stimulating. Early Childhood Music promotes Phonological Awareness which is the ability to identify the sound structure of words which is an incredibly important childhood skill.
Music helps with learning the flow and tone of human speech, and learning how to make music can help develop that verbal memory that we need in order to recognize familiar words more easily. When we introduce these musical ideas and concepts to our children we are giving them the opportunity to learn essential skills in a fun and effective way. For more information on how you can introduce the magic of music to your child visit: http://studioemusicandarts.com/programs/ece-music-program/