Mom with guitar


March 4th, 2014

Music and songs can be powerful tools in motivating your child to cooperate. When an adult speaks to a young child, the words are processed on one side of the brain and there needs to be a neurological leap across brain hemispheres for these words to be processed into action on the other side of the brain. However, when a child hears music, the music is processed on the same side of the brain as action and so there is a more immediate action response to music than to words.

Many years ago, when I first started teaching preschool, I swore that I was not going to be one of those dorky preschool teachers that sang songs throughout the day. Within three weeks I was one of those dorky teachers because singing at clean-up time, coming to-snack-time, and getting-on-coat time spurred fifteen young children to action in a way that words never could!

The easiest songs are piggyback songs where you take a familiar tune, such as The Alphabet Song or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (same tune!) and put your words or your child’s words to the music.

Music for Transitions: Since most young children love structure, singing the same song for the same daily activity can help ease some of the following transitions: getting dressed, brushing teeth, putting on a coat, going up or down stairs, cleaning-up toys, coming to meals and cleaning up from meals, and going to a bath or bed. You can do a Morning March to the car with high-stepping feet and each of you making the sound of an instrument. You can play the same breakfast music every day when you prepare and eat breakfast so that this can add structure and calm to the start of the day. Clean-up songs can be magical.

Songs as Timers: You can use songs for timers for activities. During a baking project you can sing Have You Seen the Muffin Man? as Have You Seen Darian Stirring the Dough? to structure the length of mixing time. You and your child can create a Toothbrushing Song that lasts the two minutes it takes to brush teeth.

Songs and Rhythms for Activities: Sometimes singing songs can encourage cooperation and help avoid conflict. If your child is having a hard time sharing blocks with their brother, you might try singing a Building a Fort Song to encourage cooperation and ease the sharing process. If you are having a hard time getting your child’s attention you might start clapping a certain rhythm and that should get your child’s attention to start clapping the same rhythm and to get their attention.

Leave a Reply