As a parent, if you’re like me, you obsess about your child being ahead of the curve when it comes to learning everything from reading and writing to potty training and manners. You also want to ensure that any obstacle they face will be easily overcome with the skills you provide them with. In my experience, music has been my greatest collaborator. Not only in the “play classical music for my baby to make him a genius” kind of way, but actually using music to teach any type of information or skill. With my son, I would put on a one-woman show at mealtime, playtime, bedtime and basically every time in between. Yes, it was a bit, or a lot excessive, but I just didn’t want him to struggle or be bored and uninspired. I wanted to stimulate his little brain and expose him to everything.
What I began to notice was that he had an unbelievable ability to learn and retain information because of the songs I entertained him with. By utilizing the combination of lyrics, rhythm, melody and movement, music can aid in the learning experience. Tristan could spell his name as early as he could talk because I taught him the letters in his name to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. (Funnily enough, his dad’s name, Steven, went to the tune of This Old Man! LOL) At Tristan’s daycare, I remember other parents marveling over his ability to recite, not only our home phone number but my cell, my husband’s cell as well as his address, in case he ever got lost or separated from us in a crowd. At age 6, he was one of the only boys in his Scouts Troop that knew their entire pledge off by heart by the second meeting, all because I put a melody to it…and to this day he remembers it verbatim, without even having to sing it.
It has been the same with my daughter, Mixie. Since I witnessed the power of music and the fantastic effects it had on my son’s learning, I added to our repertoire. At two years old she can read phonetically. I never sang the ABC song to her in the traditional way. I sang it to her phonetically so when she sees a letter, instead of saying its name, she says its sound. If I show her a three-letter word like CAT, she basically sounds it out right away without the step of having to discern that the letter C makes the CUH sound. I went as far as to make up songs that highlight sight words, letter blending, prefixes and suffixes. Even as they grow older the songs that I created for them as babies remain ingrained in their little heads. It may sound like hard work or a tad militant but I assure you they never even suspected that they were learning. They only had fun and delighted in their mom’s crazy songs about… everything!
I recently came across an article entitled Music and Learningby Chris Boyd Brewer posted on the John Hopkins School of Education website which supports my personal findings. So, try music the next time you want to teach your child anything at all. You can use traditional
melodies with your own words or make up your own tunes altogether. I promise you, you don’t have to have a beautiful singing voice or impeccable rhythm…you just have to be enthusiastic and fun. A little tip: record yourself so you don’t forget the wonderful creations you dream up!
BTW, Tristan is now 8 and hasn’t conquered eating over his plate. I’m convinced there is just no song for that unfortunately, unless you count “Vacuum the Crumbs off the Floor” sung to the tune of Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes!!