Singing and song time is a pivotal part of the Owl Tree Café experience. Although we operate on a drop in basis, most customers time their visit to coincide with one of our two daily song times.
Singing is a key part of a child’s development, and we have been highlighting 5 key areas of development in daily Facebook posts. This blog is an amalgamation of those posts and sets out fully why singing is so good for our children and ourselves.
Firstly how can singing help with your child’s COGNATIVE DEVELOPMENT?
Have you ever learnt something by heart by putting it to song? How is that we can remember the song lyrics from two decades ago when we can’t even remember a short shopping list? It is a well-known fact that learning to sing along with a song builds up memory and there are many academic studies to support this. Do you sometimes still sing the ABC song to yourself when tying to remember the next sequential letter?
When singing as part of a group, even if this is just your family, your child can learn pace, stamina and concentration, by keeping up with you.
In addition, by singing as part of a group or with a parent, your child will learn the key discipline of rhythm, as well as additional vocabulary, and emotional expression.
Have a think back to some of the songs that we sing in the café (if you don’t know get watching on Youtube!); how many things has your child learnt to do from a song?
In Wind the Bobbin up, your child learns to clap in time (clap your hands together, 1, 2, 3), follow basic instructions (point to the ceiling, point to the floor, put your hands upon your knees! etc).
In Head Shoulders knees and toes, not only are they learning the vocabulary of anatomy, but are also keeping pace with the song by pointing at their required body part in line with everyone else (try speeding up and slowing down).
In our night time animals song, the children learn the names of the animals. So many of your little ones also know that they are all “nocturnal,” (will impress any reception teach that!) We regularly, through repetition use words such as “soar”, “stomp”, “roosting,” and I know for a fact that your little ones now know what a chrysalis is from singing the caterpillar song!
Finally, in singing with expression, we convey emotion. We can “roar” like an angry dinosaur, show excitement and relief when “all the little ducks come swimming back” an concern for Miss Polly’s dolly. You get the idea.
Singing Keeps us PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY HEALTHY.
Singing, according to a number of studies has been found to relieves stress and tension. Studies have shown that when people sing, endorphins and oxytocin are released by the brain which in turn lowers stress and anxiety levels.
Singing is also reported to boost confidence. The release of endorphins gives singers a positive feeling; I certainly feel this when I sing and have had many parents tell me that singing along with us during song time has a very positive and calming effect on their children.
Singing is also a mindful activity. So much is going on in your body and mind when you sing that you are fully focused on the act of singing itself. This allows you to ‘live completely in the moment’, focusing on the tune, actions, your breathing. Given that any mindfulness activity has proven benefits including reducing stress and increasing the ability to focus; surely we should be encouraging singing with our children as often as possible!
Not only is singing beneficial to our mental health and mood, but research has shown that singing can actually help boost your immune system. Studies have shown that immediately after singing we have higher levels of the protein Immunoglobulin A, an antibody known to boost the function of the immune system
Singing also improves breathing. When you learn to sing, you learn to breathe well, use your diaphragm and increase your oxygen intake and lung capacity. Singing is an aerobic activity. It exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, it forces us to breathe deeply, which draws more oxygen into our bodies.
So there you go! Move over Joe Wicks, we are doing out workouts every morning on YouTube with the Owl Tree Café (joking – I love Joe Wicks and he is on at 9am so you can do both!)
Singing makes you HAPPY!
Singing out loud releases feel-good hormones called endorphins that make you feel happy and positive. There is also a tiny part of your inner ear, called the sacculus, that releases even more happy hormones when it’s stimulated by music.
At the Owl Tree Café we LOVE what we do and love to make you and your little ones happy. Did you know that our song time sessions are visible on our YouTube Channel for you to watch whenever you want?
Singing teaches key COMMUNICATION SKILLS.
Singing to babies prepares them for communicating later in life as it helps them get used to the structure and inflections of their parent’s language.
By introducing babies and children to a variety of nursery rhymes and songs, we are introducing them to concepts such as rhyming and rhythm, intonation and in repetition we are solidifying these in their minds.
The repetition is the thing that i struggle with the most (and is my main motivation for creating new songs!) As adults we get bored with the “same old” to the point where this can be torturous (anyone who has every woken up with the same song on repeat in their head will understand!) but children LOVE repetition and relish the familiar. They learn via repetition and making the unfamiliar familiar. So I’m afraid you are going to have to suck it up and sing Baa Baa black sheep AGAIN!
In addition, teaching songs and nursery rhymes from an early age teaches children some key components of creative language, including sentence structure and rhyme. It increases their vocabulary and understanding of the world.
You may have heard of or attended a baby sing and sign class and if you can, I would strongly encourage this. The idea of introducing communication in babies before they are able to verbalise sits so naturally within song precisely because singing is in itself such a great communicative practise.
One of my personal goals is to learn more signing to use during our song times; anyone out there who can help me with this?
JOIN IN WITH THE ACTIONS
Even though most of our songs use props or puppets, you will note that some are purely based on actions and even those with puppets encourage the child to join in mimicking the actions.
Action songs are a brilliant way to develop a child’s co-ordination, gross and fine motor skills, as well as their ability to concentrate and focus.
One of the first things a baby will do is to copy the actions to a song (think twinkle twinkle little star or wind the bobbin up.)
These actions are often pre-verbal and relate to the above on communication skills. Parents often tell me proudly that their child can now “do” such and such a song.
Songs with actions are a great way to get children up and active. By allowing them to use props or instruments too, you are encouraging full brain participation, creating focus and encouraging creative role play and understanding.
Please feel free to comment, on any of the above as your feedback is appreciated and if appropriate we would love you to share this article with others.
We would LOVE to get as many families involved with the Owl Tree Café and our online singing as possible so spread the word and share our YouTube link!
We have a live song session EVERY weekday at 10am.