Start the Music


By Mindi Allen, UT H&V

When my daughter was first diagnosed, I cried over what I thought was the loss of song.  I remember I had learned the Season’s version of the Rock a Bye Baby song and I thought I could not sing to her anymore.

Both as a parent and as an early interventionist, I now realize how important singing songs and repeating nursery rhymes with children with a hearing loss can be to language development. You can sing and rhyme with your child just the same as you would with a normally hearing child. Through my schooling to become an early interventionist and to work with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as using the SKI HI Curriculum, I have come to the understanding that singing and rhyming are vital in many ways.

Singing with your child creates a bond whether they can hear or not. Children enjoy being held close, rocking, dancing or moving to the music. When actions are added to songs you can see when your child understands because they join in. It also is a great way to incorporate listening skills into activities that you do everyday with your child.  Intensity and loudness happen when we sing because we tend to sing louder than we talk.  Frequency and intonation are used as we sing a melody that changes in pitch.  Finally duration and rhyme help to develop normal rhythmic patterns that we use in speech. 

Putting words to music or even to a rhythm helps children remember them in a fun and playful way. Using props such as puppets or animals add to the fun and children enjoy interacting with family members. Getting together a song box is a great way for children to participate in which songs they want to sing or do the actions when they pick the object that represents a song.  Some examples would be a bus for “Wheels on the Bus,” a toy spider for “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” a star for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and toy animals for “Old MacDonald had a Farm.”

Songs are a fun way to learn signs also.  You can pick out a song your family enjoys and look up the signs in books, ask a deaf friend or watch videos to enhance your child’s and family’s signing vocabulary. It helps the whole family learn signs when they are having fun signing and singing. Signing to music can improve fluency and expressiveness in sign, as well.

Rhymes have all of the benefits of singing especially with the repetition of words.  Children learn to pay attention to the minor changes of words that happen in rhymes. 

You can sing and rhyme with children at any age.  Starting with babies you can do “Patty Cake, Patty Cake,” or “This Little Piggy.”  “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,”  “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and of course, “Happy Birthday” are good for toddlers.  Preschoolers enjoy “Wheels on the Bus” and “I’m a Little Teapot.”  These are ideas to get you starting but you can sing anything you want.  Have family members remember songs or rhymes they liked to sing when they were young, and START SINGING!!!!!    ~


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