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  • Writer's pictureStep By Step Nursery

Our Parent’s Guide on Using Singing to Help Your Child’s Development

From lullabies that help infants sleep soundly to songs with dance for toddlers to help their co-ordination; as children grow, you can use singing in many different ways to further help your child’s development.

You may not feel that your voice sounds great, but to your child it won’t matter as research shows that children prefer hearing their parents’ voices over recorded ones. If you are not sure about songs to sing your child, begin with CDs so that you can learn the words, then try going solo. As children grow, you can use singing in different ways.

Below are some of the different ways in which you could use songs to help your child’s development:


From Birth

Lullabies are traditionally used to soothe babies. They work well because babies mimic an adult’s heartbeat, and this combined with a rocking movement makes babies feel secure. You can make up your own lullaby or use well-known ones such as Bye Baby Bunting. Try to make eye contact with your baby as you rock.

How this activity helps your child:

  • Co-ordination & balance – the gentle rocking movement will help your baby develop a sense of balance

  • Emotional development – singing a lullaby will help your baby to develop a bond with you

  • Language development – lullabies seem to help babies pay attention to the rhythms and sounds in words and so help early communication

Helpful Hint – use the tune of your baby’s favourite lullaby and adapt it with a few of your own words.

Action Songs

From 12 Months

Songs that have accompanying actions are loved by children of all ages. They are also great for helping children learn the meaning of new words. While at first your child might simply enjoy watching you make movements, after a while you will see that your child will anticipate a movement and have a go at joining in. Try out Humpty Dumpty, Row Row Row Your Boat and Pat-a-Cake.

How this activity helps your child:

  • Co-ordination – action songs encourage children to practice coordinated movements

  • Language – songs that link words to actions are useful for teaching children the meaning of words

  • Social development – making movements together helps children learn to connect with others

Helpful Hint – look out for action rhymes that require more coordinated movements, such as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

Songs For Requests

From Two Years

There are times when parents have to ask their children to do something such as getting dressed, tidying up or coming to eat. Two-year-olds can be very reluctant at times and so a good strategy to lighten the mood is to sing a request or instruction rather than to say it. This can make the activity or task feel more like a game and so cut down on tantrums.

How this activity helps your child:

  • Thinking – following instructions helps children learn to process information and use their memories

  • Listening skills – this type of singing will help your child’s listening skills

  • Emotional development – your child may learn to use singing as a future strategy to cope with activities they are not interested in

Helpful Hint – develop some songs for specific tasks, such as a bedtime song or a putting-on-a-coat song.

Songs With Shakers

From Two-And-A-Half Years

A lovely activity for a rainy day is to sing some songs while using shakers or a drum. You can make shakers by putting some dried pasta or rice into a water bottle, while a simple drum can be made by turning a waste paper basket upside down. Making movements to a beat helps children’s co-ordination but is also an important skill needed for later reading.

How this activity helps your child:

  • Physical development – moving an object in time to a beat helps children’s co-ordination

  • Listening skills – Listening out for the beat helps children’s ability to hear and differentiate sounds

  • Emotional development – making sounds helps children to express themselves and gain in confidence

Helpful Hint – introduce a wooden spoon or stick to hit the shaker or drum. This will help to further develop co-ordination.

Counting Songs

From Three Years

Songs that are based on numbers help children learn the words used in counting. As most counting songs involve subtraction, they also help children to count backwards.

To get the most out of counting songs, use your fingers as you count, for example with Five Little Ducks or Two Little Dickie Birds. As learning to count takes time and plenty of practice, don’t worry if your child makes mistakes while singing along.

How this activity helps your child:

  • Counting – your child can learn the names of the numbers and also the order of numbers

  • Language development – counting songs helps your child learn the meanings of new words

  • Confidence – being able to join in a counting song helps children feel grown up and confident

Helpful Hint – look out for counting songs with numbers up to ten and beyond.

Songs With Dance

From Four Years

It takes a while before children can sing while also moving. Songs with dance moves such as The Hokey Cokey or Ring a Ring o’ Roses will be enjoyed by younger children and so do try them out, but you will probably notice that they find it hard to sing as well. Songs with dance moves are great for children’s parties as well as on rainy days when children still need exercise.

How this activity helps your child:

  • Co-ordination – singing and dancing will help co-ordination

  • Social skills – being part of a group that is singing and dancing helps children to enjoy being co-operative

  • Physical development – Singing and dancing helps keep your child active and healthy

Helpful Hint – encourage your child to experiment with their own moves.



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