How Music Can Improve Reading Skills In Children

How Music Can Improve Reading Skills in Children

Historically, music has been used as a tool for people to communicate with each other. Music is a great way to tell stories, memorize information, and share thoughts and feelings. Music is a great educative tool and can improve skills in other academic areas, such as reading and writing. 

As a parent, ensuring your child has adequate reading abilities is a major concern. A child’s success in school will be significantly impacted by his or her ability to read. Even in non-literary subjects, like math, homework and tests will usually involve reading written problem-solving questions. This is why it’s important to ensure that your child is reading to the best of his or her ability. Let’s take a look at how you can improve reading skills in children with music:

Pronunciation 

Learning how to pronounce words correctly can be difficult for children, especially since we often say these words extremely quickly when we’re conversing with one another. This is why children will commonly mispronounce words such as “library” by saying “libary.”

Pronouncing words correctly is a major part of being able to read out loud. Music is a great way to address pronunciation issues because it will teach children to divide words into units. Since singers often draw out words for musical purposes, a child will be able to hear the units of that word much more clearly. Not only can music improve reading skills in children by slowing words down, it can also provide them with the opportunity to practice speaking quickly. Rap music is a great way to reduce stuttering and teach children to say difficult words more quickly.

Here’s an exercise you could do with your child to help them with their pronunciation skills:

Step 1: Choose a difficult word.

For example, the word “coordinate” may be tough for a child to pronounce. The words that your child finds difficult will depend on your child’s unique situation, so use your best judgment in this step.

Step 2: Break the word down.

The best way to approach large words like this one is to break it down into smaller units. For example, it would be helpful to pronounce “co” “or” “din” and “ate” separately, and then string them together.

Step 3: Sing.

Now that you’ve broken the word down, work with your child to sing these individual units. Sing slowly and make your pronunciation much more dramatic than it would be in the regular conversation. For example, make a very obvious “O” shape with your mouth when pronouncing the “co” unit of “coordinate.” After you’ve sung all the units, try singing the whole word.

Step 4: Pronounce the word without singing.

Once you’re child is comfortable with singing the word, it’s time to speed things up and pronounce it without the help of music. You’ll probably find that the singing helped your child understand the individual components of the word more easily than just speaking the word would have.

Reading Comprehension

You can also use music as a motivating way to encourage your child to practice reading comprehension. Since children enjoy music, reading exercises that incorporate their favorite songs will feel less tedious. Here’s a great exercise to improve reading skills in children:

Step 1: Pick a song.

Make sure you choose a song that your child loves and will want to learn inside-out. Some child-friendly musical artists are: The Beatles, Taylor Swift, and Bruno Mars. For this example, let’s pretend you’re using the song “Style” by Taylor Swift. This is a catchy song that will be sure to stick to your memory quite easily.

Step 2: Sing the song and learn the words.

This will be an enjoyable step, but is also optional because your child might already know the words to his or her favorite song. If you’d like to skip this step, try this exercise with a song your child already knows.

Step 3: Create flashcards with lines from the song.

This is where your child’s reading comprehension will come into the equation. Try writing down lines from the song on flashcards. Make sure the words are easy to read. Then, sit across from your child and show them the flashcard. Ask them to sound out the words they see and sing back the line with the correct melody.

This is a great way to encourage your child to not only sound out one word, but a group of words. Often, children will find reading a whole sentence out loud overwhelming. Try using music they know to make the sentence seem less daunting.

In Conclusion.

Remember to take things slow and use music that your child enjoys to keep them motivated. Music is a great learning tool, so if you’re interested in taking things a step further, check out this article on the best guitar for your child’s small hands.


About the Author: Natalie Wilson

Natalie WilsonNatalie Wilson is an avid music lover and guitar player who has dedicated her life to sharing what she knows on my blog, Musical Advisors. You’ll find a wide range of topics on her blog, including reviews, tutorials, and tips for musicians.

Contact Natalie at , or follow her on Twitter.

One Comment

Julie

As a young child, I really never had the opportunity to fully play music. I come from a very musical heritage. So….at age 75, I became determined that I would really get serious. So….I started playing the ukulele. It was so enjoyable, that I graduated to a 32 base accordion. To say the least, it is a challenge to not watch your hands and pay attention. I can play almost anything I have heard by ear and also can read music to boot. It has helped me regain some mental control of my life after suffering from a major stroke. The music not only provides pleasure, but it has helped me with my memory and reading skills. I highly recommend music as therapy.

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We teach our kids to respect adults and other children, and they should – respect is an important part of growing up to be a pretty great human. There’s something else though that’s even more important – teaching them to respect themselves first. 

We can’t stop difficult people coming into their lives. They might be teachers, coaches, peers, and eventually, colleagues, or perhaps people connected to the people who love them. What we can do though is give our kids independence of mind and permission to recognise that person and their behaviour as unacceptable to them. We can teach our kids that being kind and respectful doesn’t necessarily mean accepting someone’s behaviour, beliefs or influence. 

The kindness and respect we teach our children to show to others should never be used against them by those broken others who might do harm. We have to recognise as adults that the words and attitudes directed to our children can be just as damaging as anything physical. 

If the behaviour is from an adult, it’s up to us to guard our child’s safe space in the world even harder. That might be by withdrawing support for the adult, using our own voice with the adult to elevate our child’s, asking our child what they need and how we can help, helping them find their voice, withdrawing them from the environment. 

Of course there will be times our children do or say things that aren’t okay, but this never makes it okay for any adult in your child’s life to treat them in a way that leads them to feeling ‘less than’.

Sometimes the difficult person will be a peer. There is no ‘one certain way’ to deal with this. Sometimes it will involve mediation, role playing responses, clarifying the other child’s behaviour, asking for support from other adults in the environment, or letting go of the friendship.

Learning that it’s okay to let go of relationships is such an important part of full living. Too often we hold on to people who don’t deserve us. Not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to stay and if we can help our children start to think about this when they’re young, they’ll be so much more empowered and deliberate in their relationships when they’re older.♥️
When we are angry, there will always be another emotion underneath it. It is this way for all of us. 

Anger itself is a valid emotion so it’s important not to dismiss it. Emotion is e-motion - energy in motion. It has to find a way out, which is why telling an angry child to calm down or to keep their bodies still will only make things worse for them. They might comply, but their bodies will still be in a state of distress. 

Often, beneath an angry child is an anxious one needing our help. It’s the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. As with all emotions, anger has a job to do - to help us to safety through movement, or to recruit support, or to give us the physical resources to meet a need or to change something that needs changing. It doesn’t mean it does the job well, because an angry brain means the feeling brain has the baton, while the thinking brain sits out for a while. What it means is that there is a valid need there and this young person is doing their very best to meet it, given their available resources in the moment or their developmental stage. 

Children need the same thing we all need when we’re feeling fierce - to be seen,  heard, and supported; to find a way to get the energy out, either with words or movement. Not to be shut down or ‘fixed’. 

Our job isn’t to stop their anger, but to help them find ways to feel it and express it in ways that don’t do damage. This will take lots of experience, and lots of time - and that’s okay.♥️
The SCCR Online Conference 2021 is a wonderful initiative by @sccrcentre (Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution) which will explore ’The Power of Reconnection’. I’ve been working with SCCR for many years. They do incredible work to build relationships between young people and the important adults around them, and I’m excited to be working with them again as part of this conference.

More than ever, relationships matter. They heal, provide a buffer against stress, and make the world feel a little softer and safer for our young people. Building meaningful connections can take time, and even the strongest relationships can feel the effects of disconnection from time to time. As part of this free webinar, I’ll be talking about the power of attachment relationships, and ways to build relationships with the children and teens in your life that protect, strengthen, and heal. 

The workshop will be on Monday 11 October at 7pm Brisbane, Australia time (10am Scotland time). The link to register is in my story.
There are many things that can send a nervous system into distress. These can include physiological (tired, hungry, unwell), sensory overload/ underload, real or perceived threat (anxiety), stressed resources (having to share, pay attention, learn new things, putting a lid on what they really think or want - the things that can send any of us to the end of ourselves).

Most of the time it’s developmental - the grown up brain is being built and still has a way to go. Like all beautiful, strong, important things, brains take time to build. The part of the brain that has a heavy hand in regulation launches into its big developmental window when kids are about 6 years old. It won’t be fully done developing until mid-late 20s. This is a great thing - it means we have a wide window of influence, and there is no hurry.

Like any building work, on the way to completion things will get messy sometimes - and that’s okay. It’s not a reflection of your young one and it’s not a reflection of your parenting. It’s a reflection of a brain in the midst of a build. It’s wondrous and fascinating and frustrating and maddening - it’s all the things.

The messy times are part of their development, not glitches in it. They are how it’s meant to be. They are important opportunities for us to influence their growth. It’s just how it happens. We have to be careful not to judge our children or ourselves because of these messy times, or let the judgement of others fill the space where love, curiosity, and gentle guidance should be. For sure, some days this will be easy, and some days it will feel harder - like splitting an atom with an axe kind of hard.

Their growth will always be best nurtured in the calm, loving space beside us. It won’t happen through punishment, ever. Consequences have a place if they make sense and are delivered in a way that doesn’t shame or separate them from us, either physically or emotionally. The best ‘consequence’ is the conversation with you in a space that is held by your warm loving strong presence, in a way that makes it safe for both of you to be curious, explore options, and understand what happened.♥️
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#mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #parenting
When children are struggling to physically control their bodies, we support them in ways that strengthen. If they’re struggling to write, for example, we don’t punish or shame them. We guide them and show them by doing ‘with’. We also lift them up, ‘I know you can do this. Keep going. You’re getting better and better.’ We also don’t wait for perfection. ‘You wrote a number 4! Nice work you!’ We sit with and do with, over and over. We also give them a break when they get frustrated or upset.

It’s the same for behaviour. Big behaviour comes from big feelings or attempts to meet valid needs. (And all needs are valid.) It is this way for all of us. When we’re upset or angry, the last thing we need is for someone to tell us we can’t be, or to lecture or shame us. Kids are the same.

With kids and teens though, there can be a sense that we need to ‘do’ something in response to big behaviour, so we lay down punishments or consequences with a view to teaching a lesson.

But - unless the consequences make sense (punishments never do), they risk teaching lessons we don’t want them to learn:
- that the environment is fragile and won’t tolerate mistakes. 
- that secrecy and lies are a safer option than coming to us. 
- shut down. They put a lid on expressing big feelings. The feelings will still be there, but they aren’t getting the vital guidance from us on how to calm them (through co-regulation). The risk is that they will eventually call on unhealthy ways to calm the fierce stress neurobiology that comes with big feelings.

Consequences have to make sense. Maybe it’s to repair or reconnect. Discipline has to teach. It’s not about what we do to them but about what we nurture within them. Is that trust and the capacity to learn and grow? Or is it fear or shame.

Often the only response that’s needed is a loving conversation with us. ‘What happened?’ ‘What were you hoping would happen?’ ‘What did you need that you didn’t get?’ What can you do differently next time?’ ‘How can you put things right?’ Because if discipline is about learning, the most powerful consequence is the strong, loving conversation with us that lights their way and speaks softly to the safety of us.♥️

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