Songs are a great way to promote speech and language development, as you can choose songs linked to children’s interests and there is no pressure for the child to join in.  When I worked at a pre-school language centre, children often lacked confidence when they started with us as their speech had been excessively corrected by well-meaning parents and relatives.  One boy was particularly withdrawn, yet after a week he joined in when we sang “Five Fat Sausages” and whispered “bang” with us.  That was just the start, over the next few weeks I had to stop myself asking him to use a quieter voice!

The wonderful thing about working with children is they don’t notice if you can’t sing, they just want you to be enthusiastic and have fun.

Top tips

  • Use songs at transition times, it’s much more fun and you only need a few tunes to fit any words to. For example:

Are you ready?  Are you ready?

To go to downstairs?  To go downstairs?

Very very slowly, very very slowly.

Ready for our lunch, ready for our lunch.

(To the tune of Frere Jacques)


It’s time to tidy up

It’s time to tidy up


It’s time to tidy up

(To the tune of “The Farmer’s in his Den”)

  • Sing songs more slowly so it’s easier for children to join in and be wary of using recorded songs, they’re often sung at an unreasonably fast pace!
  • Introduce new songs but always sing some familiar songs; children need lots of repetition
  • Invite parents in small groups to song time so they hear the tunes and will more likely to sing with their child at home
  • Sing songs which include sounds as well as words, so less confident and non-verbal children can join in. Wheels on the bus, Old MacDonald had a farm
  • Use songs cards (simple pictures to represent each song) or objects so less confident and non-verbal children can use these to choose their favourite song
  • Invite a librarian into your setting to bring some song/rhyme books and CDs parents could borrow if they’re a member
  • Have a display focusing on songs and rhymes. What were practitioners’ and parents’ favourites when they were young?
  • Use songs that are familiar to the children, you might not appreciate the latest film or TV theme but the children will!

About the author

Kathryn is a specialist early years teacher and trainer who has worked with children for nearly 25 years, including 10 years as an Area SENCO. She is a licensed Tutor for ICAN Talk Boost as well as an ELKLAN Speech and Language Trainer.  She regularly writes and delivers courses for early years practitioners on all aspects of SEN.  You can visit her website for more information.

View our blog for more valuable news and information affecting the Childcare Sector. 

Expression of interest

Complete the form below if you are interested in joining our family. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This