Supporting Literacy Through Music

“Washed The Spider Out” said my 11month old niece, Kate, as her parents and grandparents looked and listened so attentively as one does when your child speaks their first words. Kate glowed with pride and her family couldn’t have been happier, not really realizing that this was Kate’s first step to not only building social skills and “using her words”, which her parents were soon to appreciate, but also the first building blocks of literacy.

Literacy skills come directly from a strong grasp on oral language skills. What could be a better way to build oral language skills and confidence than through music? From learning the alphabet through the “ABC’s” to exploring rhymes through “Down By The Bay”, music has a clear link to the foundation of literacy development. Feeling and having a sense of musical rhythm can help children identify and make similarities between rhythms in music and rhyming patterns and alliteration in reading and writing. One of a child’s first introductions to patterned text comes from songs and rhythmic text that are repeated over and over. 

What can you do? First off don’t be scared off by singing or making music with your child, even if you think you don’t have a good voice or feel like you can’t keep a beat, bringing music into your home in any way and sharing it with your child is so important no matter how “good” you think you are. Try singing along with some literacy based songs such as “Down by the Bay” and “Willoughby Wallaby Woo”. Have fun and play around with the rhymes and rhythms of the words. Read and follow along with song books, try to sing and point to the lyrics on the page as the song goes by. This can help establish the basic fundamentals and correlations between oral and print language. Most importantly, have fun with music!