Using Music to Reinforce Speech and Language

Music can be used effectively to help your child develop their language and speech skills.  It is motivating, familiar, rhythmic and just plain fun!  It can also stimulate motor and social skills. Music can have a regulating effect on your child, making them more receptive to listening, attending and learning.  By incorporating gestures along with the lyrics, you can support learning and encourage your child’s active participation.

If your child is not yet verbal or is minimally verbal, music can help teach gestural imitation skills. By incorporating gestures along with the lyrics, you can reinforce concepts and encourage your child’s active participation. The simple and repetitive nature of songs is an excellent way to reinforce first words. Songs that have a lot of repetition provide good opportunities to practice words and concepts. For example, a song like “Wheels on the Bus” includes gestures with each verse, as well as repetition of words, such as “The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep”.  Your child may start by imitating the hand motions, but as they become more familiar with the song, you can pause at the end of a line, to see if your child will try to complete the phrase: “The people on the bus go up and ___”.

Children often respond well to directions sung to them rather than spoken to them. The singing will draw your child’s attention and the repetition of words can help with receptive language skills. It can also make tasks both more predictable and more fun, and sometimes children will be more willing to follow along. Think about the “Clean Up” song from the Barney show, “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do their share,” which is now used in preschools everywhere!  You also can make up your own songs, or use the old classic, “This is the way we… brush our teeth, put on shoes,” etc. At home, if your child struggles with transitions, you could try using a specific song consistently, to cue them for what happens next.

You don’t have to be a good singer to introduce music, singing and movement into your daily routines! Your child will not care if you can’t carry a tune.  They will just enjoy singing and dancing with you!  Also, don’t be afraid to change songs or make up some of your own. 

YouTube is a good source for songs.  Super Simple Songs have a great catalog of songs with appealing animations, or try searching for your childhood favorites. Have fun!