If you were to eavesdrop on my household at random times throughout the day, it’s likely you would hear me singing more than once. This isn’t because I’m particularly fond of singing and it’s certainly not because I’m gifted at it.
I began singing to my children before they were born. When I was pregnant with my first, I would sit in the rocking chair each afternoon and sing the words of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” a song that embodied my developing child’s story. Once she was born, I began singing her this song before bed each night. (I’ve also done this with my second child, though the hymn I sing to her is “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”)
As the weeks passed after the birth of my first child, I began singing more and more. Now both of my girls hear me singing songs several times each day.
- I wake them in the morning by singing the words of Psalm 92:1-2: “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night…”
- While I dress them in the morning I sing songs to focus our day on Jesus.
- After I read a Bible story to them, we sing one or more Bible verses set to music. Though there are several sources for these, we usually use those created by Seeds Family Worship.
- We sing the alphabet, songs about numbers, songs about animals, etc. to help my girls learn basic concepts that will help them as they continue learning.
- When my hands are occupied with cooking or cleaning and my younger girl starts fussing, I sing songs to capture her attention and cheer her until I’m free to pick her up.
I think you get the idea. I sing to my kids from dawn ‘til dusk. I do this because I have found it to be beneficial to them.
How young children benefit from singing
It turns out that science actually backs up my observation that singing to my kids is beneficial. Researchers, including those at the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the University of California, Berkeley, have found that music is critical to the emotional and social development of children.
- Singing calms them. In one study of stressful situations, researchers found that babies listening to music remained calm twice as long as babies listening to speech. In another study, listening to singing reduced cortisol levels (a stress hormone) in neonates.
- Singing promotes smooth transitions. Young children feel secure when life is predictable. Singing during transitions (e.g., waking up, going to bed, cleaning up) and other routine activities helps them know what comes next.
- Singing promotes language development. Songs introduce new words to children. Their language comprehension and vocabulary can increase as we sing to them about a variety of topics.
- Singing builds bonds. Young kids love hearing the voices of their parents. When we sing, it is enjoyable to our kids and it gives them a chance to hear the most important voices in their lives. As our kids sing with us and sing with each other, it strengthens their sense of belonging.
- Singing is fun. Singing is a great way to play! Whether it is finger plays or karaoke, singing is a fun way to pass the time.
- Singing builds listening skills. Our kids listen when we sing. This helps them learn to pause and process what they are hearing.
- Singing promotes learning. Listening to singing helps babies learn to focus attention, a skill necessary for learning. Moreover, researchers have found that music helps improve memory.
Isn’t this amazing? Something as simple as singing can have all these positive impacts.
Do you sing to your young kids? In what ways have you seen this benefit them?
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