Okay, so none of us are perfect singers (hmmm, well maybe some of us, but definitely not me, which you'll well know if you've been to a Spark session recently!) So why then is singing and music central to what we do?
It's National Nursery Rhyme week this week and as such, a perfect time to explore the benefits of singing with your baby and in particular, singing nursery rhymes and familiar rhythmic songs.
So, why are nursery rhymes so important? Introducing children to a variety of nursery rhymes can help them to learn and understand different speech sounds and in doing so help them to learn important skills for talking and later reading development. From the moment they are born, children learn sounds by listening to people speaking around them and developing an ability to tune into their environment.
Sally Goddard-Blythe, a consultant in neuro-developmental education, believes that singing traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies and infants before they learn to speak is ‘an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional wellbeing’. According to Blythe, ‘Song is a special type of speech. Lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the ‘signature’ melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child’s ear, voice and brain for language.’ She also suggests that listening to, and singing along with rhymes and songs uses and develops both sides of the brain. "Neuro-imaging has shown that music involves more than just centralised hotspots in the brain, occupying large swathes on both sides,"
Excellent! Rest assured then when you're all jiggling your babies along to Incy Wincy or zooming them around the dome to Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, not only are you stimulating their vestibular senses, you're promoting positive brain development and firing off the neurons on all sides of your little ones brain too! Good eh! Bet you didn't think you were doing all that?
And we all love a good nursery rhyme but let's face it, we love a bit of 'grown up' music too, which is also excellent for our babies' brain development. Babies love to move rhythmically to a beat. Ever watched your little one jig along to a bit of drum and bass, or start to smile and laugh at a familiar tune on an advert on the TV? There are countless studies into the effects of different genres of music on babies and all point to the same conclusion; our babies have an innate predisposition to beat, rhythm and musical melodies. Babies are born to move, to dance. We cover a range of genres and styles of music in every session for this very reason. We use familiar, repeated songs and classical compositions to appeal to even the most discerning baby taste! And we don't just listen; we move, sign, sing, beat, bash, shake and wiggle.
So take those songs home with you. Sing and dance around the kitchen and enjoy the pleasure a simple song can bring to your baby, especially if you sing it to them! They are, after all, your biggest fan :-)