How to Sing Songs with Babies and Toddlers
Singing songs with babies and toddlers can be a lot of fun once you know how. And there are many ways to enrich the experience and connect songs and music to various other areas of their lives.
Let yourself go!
The most important thing to remember, is that no matter how self-conscious you may feel singing, children actually rarely notice or pay attention to how well you sing. As long as you are confident and enthusiastic when singing songs with them, children will usually be motivated to participate.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Young children generally learn language in “chunks” rather than as separate words. So it is important to repeat the same songs over and over again, in order to allow them time to pick up the words and sing along. As the child begins to gain confidence and learn the songs, add new ones that are slightly more difficult each time.
Get Silly, Silly, Silly!
Babies and toddlers love nothing more than to get an attack of the giggles, and music and song can be a great way to get have fun while interacting with each other. Look for some silly songs, pull silly faces, or act out the actions while singing, in order to make musical interaction fun and inviting for them.
From babies to older toddlers, all young children are constantly developing their fine motor skills. So why not accompany your songs with actions, movements or facial expressions that mimic what the song is about. You can make them up yourself and as long as they are simple enough for their age, the child will surely try to imitate you. Babies and toddlers can also learn a lot of language and related concepts from songs and musical playtime, so why not use some relevant props or realia, stuffed animals, puppets, pictures or flashcards to illustrate what your are singing about. This can also help them to learn to listen and extend their attention span.
Combining songs and singing with physical movement will really make the experience come alive for your child. Sing where you encourage your baby to move their arms, touch body parts or stretch, or that involve your toddler in marching, jumping, freezing, hopping or twirling.
Use Songs as a Part of Routines
Singing songs about everyday duties and routines, can be a great way for children to learn and sing along, as well as simultaneously teach them about what is expected of them. Singing songs about brushing their teeth, mealtimes, going to bed or getting dressed can be fun for young children. And playing their favorite songs in the car and having a sing along is an excellent way to reinforce musical play.
Use songs to Connect Concepts, Language and Ideas
Songs and singing can be an excellent way of interconnecting the experiences and knowledge that your baby or toddler already has. Why not sing a thematic song or finger play after reading their favorite story or while doing an art and craft project. This can help them to attach more language and meaning to what they have just done.