Singing in the Early years
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Singing in the Early years

During the summer, a friend brought her baby to meet me for the first time. Whilst we were chatting away, she was listening to her favourite songs; Disney, naturally. At such a young age, she was already smiling when she heard Sebastian sing ‘Under the Sea’ and bopped side to side to the sounds of Maui’s “You’re Welcome” and it got me thinking about the importance of music in a child’s life.

By Oliver Allport, classroom teacher KG Green

Research suggests that by the time a child is just eight months old, they will have already developed preference for certain sounds and music and by twelve months, can recognise theme tunes to their favourite television shows. Think Bob the Builder! With this in mind, how are we at school building on this almost instinctive joy of music and how can we use it in the classroom to develop language and promote the use of our home languages?

Songs to help build routines

One way we incorporate music into our classrooms is by having routine songs. Line up, tidy up, make a circle, good morning – you name it, we sing it. Not only is it a great way to manage groups of children into doing the things you need, but songs are great indicators to those children new to English. Remembering melodies is far easier than remembering words, so when these children hear a particular song, they automatically know what to do without having to listen to instructions they don’t understand. Furthermore, the confidence this gives them in the classroom grants them a level of independence they would otherwise not have.

Songs to celebrate home languages

Over the first term in KG Green, we have been celebrating home languages as much as possible. One of the ways we have done this is through learning songs. Each week we have, as a whole class, learned a short song in each child’s home language and I feel that this has had several positive effects. First, it has instilled a sense of pride into the children when it comes to their own languages. They can’t wait each week to teach their friends the songs and explain the meanings. Second, it has helped the children new to English to feel welcome in the class. Hearing their familiar home language being used in class by others can really make a difference to their wellbeing. Finally, and most importantly, it has developed a sense of oneness, unity, and tolerance through a celebration of differences. Our class are proud to be unique – proud of themselves and proud of each other.