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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Anxiety is a sign that the brain has registered threat and is mobilising the body to get to safety. One of the ways it does this is by organising the body for movement - to fight the danger or flee the danger. 

If there is no need or no opportunity for movement, that fight or flight fuel will still be looking for expression. This can come out as wriggly, fidgety, hyperactive behaviour. This is why any of us might pace or struggle to sit still when we’re anxious. 

If kids or teens are bouncing around, wriggling in their chairs, or having trouble sitting still, it could be anxiety. Remember with anxiety, it’s not about what is actually safe but about what the brain perceives. New or challenging work, doing something unfamiliar, too much going on, a tired or hungry body, anything that comes with any chance of judgement, failure, humiliation can all throw the brain into fight or flight.

When this happens, the body might feel busy, activated, restless. This in itself can drive even more anxiety in kids or teens. Any of us can struggle when we don’t feel comfortable in our own bodies. 

Anxiety is energy with nowhere to go. To move through anxiety, give the energy somewhere to go - a fast walk, a run, a whole-body shake, hula hooping, kicking a ball - any movement that spends the energy will help bring the brain and body back to calm.♥️
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#parenting #anxietyinkids #childanxiety #parenting #parent
This is not bad behaviour. It’s big behaviour a from a brain that has registered threat and is working hard to feel safe again. 

‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. The brain can perceive threat when there is any chance missing out on or messing up something important, anything that feels unfamiliar, hard, or challenging, feeling misunderstood, thinking you might be angry or disappointed with them, being separated from you, being hungry or tired, anything that pushes against their sensory needs - so many things. 

During anxiety, the amygdala in the brain is switched to high volume, so other big feelings will be too. This might look like tears, sadness, or anger. 

Big feelings have a good reason for being there. The amygdala has the very important job of keeping us safe, and it does this beautifully, but not always with grace. One of the ways the amygdala keeps us safe is by calling on big feelings to recruit social support. When big feelings happen, people notice. They might not always notice the way we want to be noticed, but we are noticed. This increases our chances of safety. 

Of course, kids and teens still need our guidance and leadership and the conversations that grow them, but not during the emotional storm. They just won’t hear you anyway because their brain is too busy trying to get back to safety. In that moment, they don’t want to be fixed or ‘grown’. They want to feel seen, safe and heard. 

During the storm, preserve your connection with them as much as you can. You might not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. None of this is about perfection. If you have a rupture, repair it as soon as you can. Then, when their brains and bodies come back to calm, this is the time for the conversations that will grow them. 

Rather than, ‘What consequences do they need to do better?’, shift to, ‘What support do they need to do better?’ The greatest support will come from you in a way they can receive: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re the most wonderful kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen. How can you put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
Big behaviour is a sign of a nervous system in distress. Before anything, that vulnerable nervous system needs to be brought back home to felt safety. 

This will happen most powerfully with relationship and connection. Breathe and be with. Let them know you get it. This can happen with words or nonverbals. It’s about feeling what they feel, but staying regulated.

If they want space, give them space but stay in emotional proximity, ‘Ok I’m just going to stay over here. I’m right here if you need.’

If they’re using spicy words to make sure there is no confusion about how they feel about you right now, flag the behaviour, then make your intent clear, ‘I know how upset you are and I want to understand more about what’s happening for you. I’m not going to do this while you’re speaking to me like this. You can still be mad, but you need to be respectful. I’m here for you.’

Think of how you would respond if a friend was telling you about something that upset her. You wouldn’t tell her to calm down, or try to fix her (she’s not broken), or talk to her about her behaviour. You would just be there. You would ‘drop an anchor’ and steady those rough seas around her until she feels okay enough again. Along the way you would be doing things that let her know your intent to support her. You’d do this with you facial expressions, your voice, your body, your posture. You’d feel her feels, and she’d feel you ‘getting her’. It’s about letting her know that you understand what she’s feeling, even if you don’t understand why (or agree with why). 

It’s the same for our children. As their important big people, they also need leadership. The time for this is after the storm has passed, when their brains and bodies feel safe and calm. Because of your relationship, connection and their felt sense of safety, you will have access to their ‘thinking brain’. This is the time for those meaningful conversations: 
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘What did I do that helped/ didn’t help?’
- ‘What can you do differently next time?’
- ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. What can you do to put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
As children grow, and especially by adolescence, we have the illusion of control but whether or not we have any real influence will be up to them. The temptation to control our children will always come from a place of love. Fear will likely have a heavy hand in there too. When they fall, we’ll feel it. Sometimes it will feel like an ache in our core. Sometimes it will feel like failure or guilt, or anger. We might wish we could have stopped them, pushed a little harder, warned a little bigger, stood a little closer. We’re parents and we’re human and it’s what this parenting thing does. It makes fear and anxiety billow around us like lost smoke, too easily.

Remember, they want you to be proud of them, and they want to do the right thing. When they feel your curiosity over judgement, and the safety of you over shame, it will be easier for them to open up to you. Nobody will guide them better than you because nobody will care more about where they land. They know this, but the magic happens when they also know that you are safe and that you will hold them, their needs, their opinions and feelings with strong, gentle, loving hands, no matter what.♥️
Anger is the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. It has important work to do. Anger never exists on its own. It exists to hold other more vulnerable emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s sometimes feels easier, safer, more acceptable, stronger to feel the ‘big’ that comes with anger, than the vulnerability that comes with anxiety, sadness, loneliness. This isn’t deliberate. It’s just another way our bodies and brains try to keep us safe. 

The problem isn’t the anger. The problem is the behaviour that can come with the anger. Let there be no limits on thoughts and feelings, only behaviour. When children are angry, as long as they are safe and others are safe, we don’t need to fix their anger. They aren’t broken. Instead, drop the anchor: as much as you can - and this won’t always be easy - be a calm, steadying, loving presence to help bring their nervous systems back home to calm. 

Then, when they are truly calm, and with love and leadership, have the conversations that will grow them - 
- What happened? 
- What can you do differently next time?
- You’re a really great kid. I know you didn’t want this to happen but here we are. How can you make things right. Would you like some ideas? Do you need some help with that?
- What did I do that helped? What did I do that didn’t help? Is there something that might feel more helpful next time?

When their behaviour falls short of ‘adorable’, rather than asking ‘What consequences they need to do better?’ let the question be, ‘What support do they need to do better.’ Often, the biggest support will be a conversation with you, and that will be enough.♥️
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#parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #anxietyinkids

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