I don't normally do guest posts, but when Charles Carpenter, host of the Healing Sounds blog got in touch wanting to talk about the educative power of music, I was intrigued. And I think his message is worth sharing.
Watching Little Bear's eyes get transfixed as someone plays a piano, or better still seeing his determination to play the thing himself after has always made me particularly proud.
Charles' post has prompted me to start looking for more musical opportunities for my little troll...
You might have heard about all the benefits of music for children, but did you know that music can actually help build and improve their literacy skills?
Literacy skills are extremely important in our modern world. So much of our lives are made possible through reading. Even driving down the street would be impossible if you could not read accurately and quickly. Every little boost up we can give our children in literacy, then, can lay the foundation they need for a healthy and productive life. Music can help pave the way for early literacy skills even before they begin learning to read.
The Connection Between Music and Literacy
There are many commonalities between music and literacy, according to Kelsey Tarbert at Luther University. Distinguishing tones and communicating verbally are keys to being literate. For example, a child that cannot pick up on the sarcasm in someone’s voice cannot join in the conversation or use sarcasm themselves. This can even carry over to reading and cause a child to be unable to pick up on subtle meanings behind words and phrases. Music can help children build the skills necessary to interpret their later readings by training them to pick out key tones and vocal shifts. This will provide the child with plenty of practice interpreting the subtle cues of language before they even open up a book and read. In fact, studies have even shown that music can help children distinguish the patterns of language through the training of their ear, which can help them read more efficiently and write more clearly later on in life. Music can also expand a child’s vocabulary and make them better team members.
Implementing Music to Improve Literacy
Now that we know that music can greatly improve a child’s literacy and build the foundation they need for lifelong success, how do we actually implement these concepts into our children’s lives? Like many things, music starts at home. Movement songs, singing, and being exposed to a wide variety of music can help even babies and toddlers develop a knack for music. Furthermore, enrolling a child in music lessons at an early age can improve their music skills and literacy even further, especially if their lessons involve reading music. Music, much like the written word, involves children looking at and interpreting symbols on a page. There is a reason they call it “reading” music, after all. Practicing these concepts early can help children pick up on the concept of reading the written word faster than those with no exposure to sheet music. Creating a hobby room at home for your children to practice their instruments is a wonderful way to encourage your child to interact with and learn music at an early age. By setting aside space in your home, you’re showing your child that this activity is important and worth doing.
Many schools are being forced to cut their spending due to budget cuts and increasing costs. This has led to cutting music programs in many schools, which only damages our children’s education and prevents them from receiving this boost to their literacy. It’s important for parents to encourage their child’s school administration to keep music programs alive. This ensures that the benefits of music are available to every student, no matter their income level or home situation.
Music and literacy go hand in hand. Music can lay a strong literacy foundation at a young age, and can improve a child’s vocabulary and reading skills long after they start reading. The benefits of incorporating music into a child’s life really are exponential. "
by Charles Carpenter
I'm Dave, dad of Little Bear. Also known as 'Pappa' to the little man as we try and bring out his Swedish roots