As a Birth-3 provider, I sing a LOT of nursery rhymes. I encourage families to sing songs and do fingerplays- for example, when you do the accompanying movements to songs like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” or “The Wheels on the Bus.” For some families, this comes naturally. For others, incorporating singing into their routines is challenging.
Below, I will counter some of the reasons I hear regarding why families don’t sing with their child:
“No, I don’t sing to my child…I have a terrible singing voice!”
Well, that makes two of us! But you know who doesn’t care whether you are in tune or not….who absolutely loves the sound of your voice? Your child! When you are singing, you are probably smiling and looking at them. They love that you are giving them your time and attention. And, your voice is the most powerful tool you have to teach your child language! Remember that your child is not a judge on American Idol… so don’t worry about how well you sing.
“My child doesn’t like to sing with me, but he loves watching songs on YouTube.”
I want to shout this from the rooftops- YouTube is not enough. One more time for the people in the back- YOUTUBE IS NOT ENOUGH! Of course, your child loves watching the colorful videos and cartoons. YouTube has many great educational videos and songs that can be powerful tools for children that are old enough for screen time, 1) in small doses and, 2) to supplement the activities you are already doing with them. YouTube *will not* respond to your child, have a back-and-forth conversation with them, or ask them what song they want to hear next. It won’t encourage them to use their OWN voice to sing. You, the parent, are your child’s most meaningful teacher. Your interactions with your child cannot be substituted by an application or video playlist.
“I’m tired of singing the same songs.”
I hear that- so am I! Let’s make up some new songs! Start by taking a familiar tune and adding your own lyrics. What better way to get creative and start a fun new routine with your child? How about singing “Good morning to you,” every morning when your child wakes up (sung to “Happy Birthday” tune.) Or, “If you’re hungry and you know it, raise your hand!” (sung to “If you’re happy and you know it.”) The possibilities are endless!
Reasons to sing with your child (just a few!):
- Songs are repetitive, and by repeating the lyrics over and over again you are helping them learn new vocabulary.
- Singing involves many pitch changes which makes it fun and interesting for your child to listen. These intonational changes are particularly helpful for children with hearing loss who are learning to listen and understand spoken language.
- Songs can be a wonderful way to help your child transition to a different activity. For example, singing a “Clean up” song lets your child know it’s time to put the toys away. Singing a “Wash your hands” song lets your child know it’s time for a snack.
- Singing can be a great way to practice back-and-forth vocal play and conversational turn-taking. Start by singing a song, then pause… and see what your child does next. See if they vocalize, gesture, or start singing to keep it going!
Make songs part of your daily routine with your infant or toddler. Be playful, silly, and most importantly have fun together!