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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Physical activity is the natural end to the fight or flight response (which is where the physical feelings of an anxiety attack come from). Walking will help to burn the adrenalin and neurochemicals that have surged the body to prepare it for flight or fight, and which are causing the physical symptoms (racy heart, feeling sick, sweaty, short breaths, dry mouth, trembly or tense in the limbs etc). As well as this, the rhythm of walking will help to calm their anxious amygdala. Brains love rhythm, and walking is a way to give them this. 
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Try to help your young one access their steady breaths while walking, but it is very likely that they will only be able to do this if they’ve practised outside of an anxiety attack. During anxiety, the brain is too busy to try anything unfamiliar. Practising will help to create neural pathways that will make breathing an easier, more accessible response during anxiety. If they aren't able to access strong steady breaths, you might need to do it for them. This will be just as powerful - in the same way they can catch your anxiety, they will also be able to catch your calm. When you are able to assume a strong, calm, steady presence, this will clear the way for your brave ones to do the same.
The more your young one is able to verbalise what their anxiety feels like, the more capacity they will have to identify it, acknowledge it and act more deliberately in response to it. With this level of self-awareness comes an increased ability to manage the feeling when it happens, and less likelihood that the anxiety will hijack their behaviour. 

Now - let’s give their awareness some muscle. If they are experts at what their anxiety feels like, they are also experts at what it takes to be brave. They’ve felt anxiety and they’ve moved through it, maybe not every time - none of us do it every time - maybe not even most times, but enough times to know what it takes and how it feels when they do. Maybe it was that time they walked into school when everything in them was wanting to walk away. Maybe that time they went in for goal, or down the water slide, or did the presentation in front of the class. Maybe that time they spoke their own order at the restaurant, or did the driving test, or told you there would be alcohol at the party. Those times matter, because they show them they can move through anxiety towards brave. They might also taken for granted by your young one, or written off as not counting as brave - but they do count. They count for everything. They are evidence that they can do hard things, even when those things feel bigger than them. 

So let’s expand those times with them and for them. Let’s expand the wisdom that comes with that, and bring their brave into the light as well. ‘What helped you do that?’ ‘What was it like when you did?’ ‘I know everything in you wanted to walk away, but you didn’t. Being brave isn’t about doing things easily. It’s about doing those hard things even when they feel bigger than us. I see you doing that all the time. It doesn’t matter that you don’t do them every time -none of us are brave every time- but you have so much courage in you my love, even when anxiety is making you feel otherwise.’

Let them also know that you feel like this too sometimes. It will help them see that anxiety happens to all of us, and that even though it tells a deficiency story, it is just a story and one they can change the ending of.
During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens

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