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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How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting
Anxiety and courage always exist together. It can be no other way. Anxiety is a call to courage. It means you're about to do something brave, so when there is one the other will be there too. Their courage might feel so small and be whisper quiet, but it will always be there and always ready to show up when they need it to.
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But courage doesn’t always feel like courage, and it won't always show itself as a readiness. Instead, it might show as a rising - from fear, from uncertainty, from anger. None of these mean an absence of courage. They are the making of space, and the opportunity for courage to rise.
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When the noise from anxiety is loud and obtuse, we’ll have to gently add our voices to usher their courage into the light. We can do this speaking of it and to it, and by shifting the focus from their anxiety to their brave. The one we focus on is ultimately what will become powerful. It will be the one we energise. Anxiety will already have their focus, so we’ll need to make sure their courage has ours.
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But we have to speak to their fear as well, in a way that makes space for it to be held and soothed, with strength. Their fear has an important job to do - to recruit the support of someone who can help them feel safe. Only when their fear has been heard will it rest and make way for their brave.
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What does this look like? Tell them their stories of brave, but acknowledge the fear that made it tough. Stories help them process their emotional experiences in a safe way. It brings word to the feelings and helps those big feelings make sense and find containment. ‘You were really worried about that exam weren’t you. You couldn’t get to sleep the night before. It was tough going to school but you got up, you got dressed, you ... and you did it. Then you ...’
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In the moment, speak to their brave by first acknowledging their need to flee (or fight), then tell them what you know to be true - ‘This feels scary for you doesn’t it. I know you want to run. It makes so much sense that you would want to do that. I also know you can do hard things. My darling, I know it with everything in me.’
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#positiveparenting #parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinchildren #mindfulpare
Separation anxiety has an important job to do - it’s designed to keep children safe by driving them to stay close to their important adults. Gosh it can feel brutal sometimes though.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person there will be anxiety unless there are two things: attachment with another trusted, loving adult; and a felt sense of you holding on, even when you aren't beside them. Putting these in place will help soften anxiety.

As long as children are are in the loving care of a trusted adult, there's no need to avoid separation. We'll need to remind ourselves of this so we can hold on to ourselves when our own anxiety is rising in response to theirs. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it's more than an adult being present. It needs an adult who, through their strong, warm, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for that child, and their joy in doing so. This can be helped along by showing that you trust the adult to love that child big in our absence. 'I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.'

To help your young one feel held on to by you, even in absence, let them know you'll be thinking of them and can't wait to see them. Bolster this by giving them something of yours to hold while you're gone - a scarf, a note - anything that will be felt as 'you'.

They know you are the one who makes sure their world is safe, so they’ll be looking to you for signs of safety: 'Do you think we'll be okay if we aren't together?' First, validate: 'You really want to stay with me, don't you. I wish I could stay with you too! It's hard being away from your special people isn't it.' Then, be their brave. Let it be big enough to wrap around them so they can rest in the safety and strength of it: 'I know you can do this, love. We can do hard things can't we.'

Part of growing up brave is learning that the presence of anxiety doesn't always mean something is wrong. Sometimes it means they are on the edge of brave - and being away from you for a while counts as brave.
Even the most loving, emotionally available adult might feel frustration, anger, helplessness or distress in response to a child’s big feelings. This is how it’s meant to work. 

Their distress (fight/flight) will raise distress in us. The purpose is to move us to protect or support or them, but of course it doesn’t always work this way. When their big feelings recruit ours it can drive us more to fight (anger, blame), or to flee (avoid, ignore, separate them from us) which can steal our capacity to support them. It will happen to all of us from time to time. 

Kids and teens can’t learn to manage big feelings on their own until they’ve done it plenty of times with a calm, loving adult. This is where co-regulation comes in. It helps build the vital neural pathways between big feelings and calm. They can’t build those pathways on their own. 

It’s like driving a car. We can tell them how to drive as much as we like, but ‘talking about’ won’t mean they’re ready to hit the road by themselves. Instead we sit with them in the front seat for hours, driving ‘with’ until they can do it on their own. Feelings are the same. We feel ‘with’, over and over, until they can do it on their own. 

What can help is pausing for a moment to see the behaviour for what it is - a call for support. It’s NOT bad behaviour or bad parenting. It’s not that.

Our own feelings can give us a clue to what our children are feeling. It’s a normal, healthy, adaptive way for them to share an emotional load they weren’t meant to carry on their own. Self-regulation makes space for us to hold those feelings with them until those big feelings ease. 

Self-regulation can happen in micro moments. First, see the feelings or behaviour for what it is - a call for support. Then breathe. This will calm your nervous system, so you can calm theirs. In the same way we will catch their distress, they will also catch ours - but they can also catch our calm. Breathe, validate, and be ‘with’. And you don’t need to do more than that.
When things feel hard or the world feels big, children will be looking to their important adults for signs of safety. They will be asking, ‘Do you think I'm safe?' 'Do you think I can do this?' With everything in us, we have to send the message, ‘Yes! Yes love, this is hard and you are safe. You can do hard things.'

Even if we believe they are up to the challenge, it can be difficult to communicate this with absolute confidence. We love them, and when they're distressed, we're going to feel it. Inadvertently, we can align with their fear and send signals of danger, especially through nonverbals. 

What they need is for us to align with their 'brave' - that part of them that wants to do hard things and has the courage to do them. It might be small but it will be there. Like a muscle, courage strengthens with use - little by little, but the potential is always there.

First, let them feel you inside their world, not outside of it. This lets their anxious brain know that support is here - that you see what they see and you get it. This happens through validation. It doesn't mean you agree. It means that you see what they see, and feel what they feel. Meet the intensity of their emotion, so they can feel you with them. It can come off as insincere if your nonverbals are overly calm in the face of their distress. (Think a zen-like low, monotone voice and neutral face - both can be read as threat by an anxious brain). Try:

'This is big for you isn't it!' 
'It's awful having to do things you haven't done before. What you are feeling makes so much sense. I'd feel the same!

Once they really feel you there with them, then they can trust what comes next, which is your felt belief that they will be safe, and that they can do hard things. 

Even if things don't go to plan, you know they will cope. This can be hard, especially because it is so easy to 'catch' their anxiety. When it feels like anxiety is drawing you both in, take a moment, breathe, and ask, 'Do I believe in them, or their anxiety?' Let your answer guide you, because you know your young one was built for big, beautiful things. It's in them. Anxiety is part of their move towards brave, not the end of it.

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