Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Many children I have worked with have taken their first steps to a supportive walking song, or sung their first words to a familiar nursery rhyme – here is how music can make your child’s daily routine so much easier!
When we sing a narrative song to a child as we watch, listen and follow them in their Musical Play, the song gives information moment by moment about what the child is doing, by providing rhythmic and expressive support.
The song helps the child to make connections, to walk or play rhythmically, to listen and follow the direction of pitch as notes go up or down, to recognise familiar songs and to organise their movement in relation to the rhythm. For example: “Charlie’s going up, up, up, up, up to the top, turning around, holding on to the rail and going down, down, down, down, down the steps”. The song uses the first five notes of the C major scale C D E F G to support going up the steps, then back down G F E D C to the ground.
Many children I have worked with have taken their first steps to a supportive walking song, or sung their first words at the end of the musical phrase of a familiar nursery rhyme.
When we match the child’s energy levels we can use a song to help them speed up or slow down, to be aroused or calm. If a child is highly aroused, we can start where the child is at and gradually slow down, which helps the brain to become calm and regulated. Alternatively, if the child needs warm up time to become energised, a supportive song with an activity such as being bounced up and down on a large ball, or jumping on a small trampoline, helps the child to become aroused so that they can listen and become ready to participate meaningfully in an activity.
Unless the emotional part of the child’s brain feels safe and satisfied, higher cognitive learning will be limited, or even impossible!
Musical Play helps the child to listen and anticipate each step of a process, to stay on task, to modulate from one activity to the other and to accept change in order and routine.
A parent told me recently that washing her daughter’s hair had been a nightmare. But once she began singing each step of the process of hair washing, her daughter had listened and anticipated the process – she tilted her head back for the shampoo to be put on and her mother was able to gently shampoo her hair. Her daughter even enjoyed the playful rinsing process too!
The parent found that the singing took the stress out of hair washing for both of them, making it become predictable and fun.
Singing instructions and routines can make any stressful process a fun and predictable one, for both you and your child. It is easy and simple – so, we encourage you to give it a go.