Song Power! How Singing Helps Children Learn

The world is a noisy place. For children, learning to interpret all of the different sounds they hear can be a challenge. Learning to listen, and what we hear are important in developing language and literacy skills. Children need to hear language spoken in order to learn to speak, read and listen.

It’s a process that we don’t think a lot about. As adults, many of us have grown accustomed to various levels of noise. The radio or TV on in the background at home, busy trains, and chatter in an office or out at the shops. For children, a lot of background noise can be distracting; young brains have to work hard to filter out different levels of noise to find the meaningful sounds. Some sounds cut through noise better than others – and one of those is the sound of singing.

Singing, with its higher pitch and larger range of tones, makes it easier for children to hear

Singing, with its higher pitch and larger range of tones, makes it easier for children to hear. It’s also the reason that many adults, without even realising it, use infant-directed speech when speaking to children (and even pets!). This special kind of speech mimics singing by using sing-song tones, exaggerated sounds, and clearer articulation – all important for a child’s developing language and literacy. An important part of the process of learning to read is having an understanding of sounds and learning how they blend together. Infant-directed speech really draws this out and calls baby’s attention to the sound and meaning. It’s also been known to hold a baby’s attention longer than a normal speaking voice.  

An interesting new research study has shown that singing can help people with hearing difficulties hear better. Through musical training and singing lessons, children were more able to hear different sounds – something the authors of the study identify as a key element to reading ability. The interesting result of the study is that both children with and without hearing impairments showed improvement in their hearing abilities. Although this study was done with 5-6 year olds, it provides even more evidence of the importance of singing.

Singing is a popular activity with babies and children. Many of us, without even thinking about it, can’t help but hum or sing a tune when playing with babies and children. Even as children get older, they will love playing singing games and singing along with you. It’s a great way to calm, engage and entertain babies and children. And as the above study demonstrates, singing supports language and literacy development as well.  


For more ideas of songs to share with your little ones, take a look at our Bookbug Song & Rhyme Library