Many of us use the same opening and/or closing song(s) in every storytime we lead. This serves to create a familiar feel for the children who attend and helps provide cohesion from one week to the next. Repeating songs and rhymes regularly in storytime gets those tunes and words stuck in people’s heads. This also happens when we hear catchy tunes or jingles on the radio or tv. When those songs play over and over in our heads, we start to know the words better and better, and each time we hear those songs (whether we like them or not), the words are solidified. The same thing happens in storytime - kids remember better each time they hear songs, too!
Does this apply to children even if they can’t talk yet? Of course it does! Early Literacy professionals already know the benefits of talking to children before they can talk back to us, but it is sometimes a surprise to caregivers to witness the direct result of this repetition.
One little girl who comes regularly to my library’s storytimes has been hearing a welcome song for several weeks that repeats her name 26 times (yep...that’s a lot of times). So, not only is she hearing her name every week, but she is hearing it many, many times each week. Her nanny approached me before storytime this week to tell me that the little girl’s parents were holding her in front of a mirror and asking her “who is that pretty girl?” To which she answered, clear as day, with her name. This was quite a surprise to her parents who weren’t expecting her to say anything at all, much less something so clear and precise!
So, let this serve as both a reminder and a beacon of inspiration that the more we talk to the children in our libraries and storytimes, the more they will learn and remember, even if we don’t receive instant proof of that learning process. :)