I just read an excellent study about the many benefits that singing provide in regards to Early Literacy. Pam Schiller, Ph.D. is the author of this study, and has written a plethora of materials for the Early Literacy Specialist. While her research is thorough and well cited, it is not as heavy a read as some others in the field. If you have a moment to read it, I highly recommend it! If you don’t have the time, here are some of the highlights:
It is known that singing helps build vocabulary and phonological awareness in that songs slow down the sounds in words to make them more clearly heard. However, many times, new vocabulary can be repeated without the meaning being known. For example, in Ring Around the Rosie, there is new vocabulary in “ashes” and “posies.” As a child, I could repeat those words, but never grasped the full meaning of the song until I was much older. Therefore, if you would really like to increase a child’s vocabulary, it is a good idea to explain the words of a song while singing it.
Another great idea mentioned in this article is how to emphasize rhyming words within the context of a chant or song. Instead of singing everything at the same decibel level, try singing the line quietly and then saying the rhyming word loudly. Not only will this help to enhance the idea of rhyming words for children, it will also provide a new and dynamic way to recite well-known songs and chants.
In addition to all of these benefits, singing provides an excellent transition tool for storytime and connects children to a comfortable and familiar routine. So, sing away! And for some great new ideas, make sure to check out the CLEL Bell Nominations list.