Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Using Songs and Books to Boost Your Child's Pre-Literacy Skills

In early childhood, the brain is uniquely receptive to learning new sounds.  Long before they speak, children understand.  They learn by hearing lots and lots of repetition.  Engaging your little one through songs is a fun way to expose them to new sounds and words, and to boost their language skills.  Here are some ways that a parent or caregiver can do that: 
  • Read singalong books.  These types of books enable younger children to learn with visuals, and older children to make the connection between sounds and printed words.  By learning the song first, children will begin reading the words on the page.  Try to choose singalong books and songs that are relevant to your child's daily experience, such as I Love My Hat or Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
  • Find songs that use repetition.  The Wheels on the Bus is an excellent choice - it has a repeating structure, and refers to moms, dads, and babies.
  • Notice how your child responds to different types of music and follow his lead.  Try something different too!
  • Take advantage of your child's innate ability to learn an additional language.  You don't need to be multi-lingual yourself - learn together!  This is a great gift you can give your child - it is much easier to learn a new language at an early age.  Some suggestions are Oh, the Colors or Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (English and Spanish) 
  • Encourage your child to make hand and body movements to represent lyrics.  When we move our bodies while learning, we put the learning into long-term memory.  For example, when singing Mr. Sun, making a big sun with arms overhead will help connect the word "sun" to something big and circular.  Plus, it's fun! 
  • Sing, sing, sing with your child!  Singing releases stress, brings people together, and is a powerful learning tool.  Don't worry whether you're a good singer or not, kids don't care if you're off-key.  Just sing!
Gail Borden Public Library is a wonderful resource for singalong books.  Ask at the desk in the Early Learning Center if you'd like help selecting some.

Adapted from an article written by Stefanie Paige Grossman, M.S. Ed at BarefootBooks.com

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