Attention and listening skills (which form the base of the communication pyramid) are crucial foundation skills for later language development, but young children are not able to listen and filter out background noise in the same way that adults can. Children need to learn to listen, and many will need extra support with this.
Music can be used in a range of different ways to develop children’s attention and listening skills. Why not give some of the following ideas a try in your early years setting?
Setting up the environment for play
Children’s music-making happens everywhere. Children might sing in the sand, take drums around the garden, or bang on pots and pans… but having special music areas set up in the classroom/outside can also be helpful so that children know where they can access instruments, and so that they have somewhere they can listen carefully if making music with others.
Supporting Language and Interaction
There is a lot of evidence to show that tuning into and talking about what the child is interested in increases the opportunities for language learning. By following the child’s lead and getting involved with children’s games and conversations you can:
- Engage with their world and show them you value what they do and what they have to say
- Match your language with the focus of their attention, so opportunities for language learning are enhanced
- Support their attention and listening skills, enabling them to stay at activities for longer
- Model how we play and talk together, including taking turns, sharing and listening.
Singing and Songwriting
Singing can be beneficial for children for many reasons, including:
- It can bring unity in a group
- It can act as a way of conveying emotions such as joy and happiness
- It can encourage participation from children in a group activity
- It can support speech and language development
- It is fun!
Singing is easily accessible, we don’t need any other equipment for it, and it can be a lot of fun. We need to convey to children that we don’t need perfect voices to enjoy the pleasure of singing – we don’t even need to know all the words!
Music and Stories
Reading to children and fostering a love of booksharing is a great way to support language development. Incorporating music into stories can be a great way of making them more engaging and encouraging children to participate.
Sound Stone Stories
Story stones are a great starting point for creating stories and they can also be used for exploring music within the context of a story.
Themed musical ideas – mini-beasts
Exploring different genres of music can help deepen your understanding of individual children’s musical identity. All children develop a relationship to sound and music through their earliest experiences in their home environment, before they start school, and even before they are born!