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We all know that singing is a good thing. Studies show that singing regularly releases happy hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin, while lowering cortisol levels (a stress indicator).
Beyond that, there are other important benefits when it comes to singing with young children. Faith Tan, a speech therapist at a voluntary welfare organisation, makes it a point to sing with her young clients at the start of each session to help them to relax and get ready for therapy. “It’s a neutral way to engage the children,” she explains.
Eugenia Tan, a speech and music therapist, believes that music plays a key role in helping children with language impairments or language delays. “The wonderful thing about singing is that it allows a child to respond in so many different ways – he or she can be smiling, looking, making sounds or bobbing along,” she says.
Developing language skills
For Faith, singing is one of the building blocks of forming sentence structures. “Because songs are repetitive, they reinforce how sounds are stringed together to form something coherent,” she explains.
Eugenia appreciates how songs also help to build up the vocabulary database of a child. “Songs like ‘Wheels on the Bus’ and ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ teach parts of a vehicle and human body in a fun way that kids remember easily,” she says.
Both therapists suggest that parents personalise these songs for their children by tweaking the lyrics to include the child’s name or the child’s favourite things. Other ideas include using objects, coming up with fun action accompaniments or pausing at certain parts of songs for children to “fill in the blanks.”
For more information on how singing hones language development, please click here.
Bonding with your child
But it’s not just about language development. We’ve all seen that touching video where a baby starts tearing up when she listens to her mother sing.
“Songs are naturally expressive, so when a parent and a child sing together, it’s a very personal form of communication,” Eugenia says.
For both therapists, singing is one of the key activities they encourage parents to do with children, especially those with special needs who are non-verbal or have difficulty vocalising their emotions. “It improves engagement as the children will be paying attention to parents while the parents will be more in tune with their children’s expressions and emotions,” Faith elaborates.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re not pitch perfect. By singing, you are initiating communication that is more animated and interesting for children,” she adds.