Happy Holidays! This is such a joyful, exciting (and busy) time of year! Holiday traditions often involve families getting together, socializing, and having fun. Music and songs are also prevalent, and this is a great way to stimulate speech and language development in children. Singing along to your favorite songs with your children is a great place to start, and there are some simple ways to incorporate even more learning into your favorite songs.
Benefits of singing include improvements in:
- Understanding of reciprocal communication
- Vocabulary development
- Rhyming skills
- Concentration and memory
- Spatial reasoning
- Fine- and gross-motor development (particularly when dancing and finger-play is included)
Below are a few links for holiday songs that can be fun to sing with your children and families:
There are several methods that teachers and speech-language pathologists use to support language skills while singing. These can be easily integrated into your own favorite songs and activities.
- Try pausing before the last word in a line (e.g., Jingle bells, jingle …), and see if your child can finish. This is building attention, memory, language, and rhyming skills.
- Add extra verses, changing one detail (e.g., I had a little dreidel, I made it out of clay…I played it all night long…). This encourages children to be creative and flexible, as well as supporting vocabulary development.
- Make a “mistake” while singing and see if the child notices and can fix it! This is a great way to help improve attention and listening skills.
- Adapt a non-holiday song to include holiday and seasonal topics (e.g., The Santa on the bus goes ho, ho, ho).
- Make up your own songs that include following directions to teach comprehension for a variety of topics and motor movements.
Try some of these techniques with your children next time you sing a holiday song. They will have fun creating new verses to beloved songs and laugh when the words suddenly change! These can also be adapted to nursery rhymes or other favorite songs throughout the year to stimulate speech and language development.
–Sara Lipson, M.S., CCC-SLP and Kellie Bouren, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologists, Children’s Speech Pathology Department, Center for Children’s Rehabilitation at Beaumont