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While many children start speaking early, some children experience delayed language development. In fact, for parents whose children do not start speaking early, it can be heart-breaking to hear other parents talk about their frustrations with children who won’t stop talking.

 

Delayed Language Development

Children may not speak fluently or have delayed language development for many reasons, from physical impediments to neurological or learning differences. When a language development delay is identified, it is helpful for parents to be guided towards medical assessment. Not only can this eliminate more serious conditions, but it can also open doors for early intervention. One easy and accessible activity that can support language development is singing familiar songs.

  • Melody, or musical notes, can enhance memory and learning, making it easier to remember words and phrases.
  • Singing engages the language centres of the brain, creating new neural pathways and improving connectivity between brain regions responsible for language development and processing.
  • Singing involves precise timing and rhythm, which help with language comprehension and production.
  • Singing also encourages fluent and clear speech through co-ordinating breath control, articulation, and phrasing.
  • Singing helps to develop phonological awareness, which is the ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds of language, which is vital for reading and spelling.
  • Through singing, individuals can learn new words and phrases in a meaningful context, making it easier for them to remember and use these words in everyday situations.
  • Songs with complex sentence structures or grammatical elements can be practised easily through singing along.
  • Singing can boost self-esteem and confidence as successful singing may lead to willingness to communicate verbally.
  • Singing impacts social interaction as it is a way to express emotions. This is particularly important with condition-related frustration and anxiety. This can help to boost self-esteem as well as connect with others who share their interests in a supportive environment.

 

Practical Tips for Incorporating Singing:

  1. Appropriate Songs: Select songs that match language level and interests. Consider songs with clear lyrics and repetition.
  2. Sing Regularly: Consistency is key. Incorporate singing into daily routines to maximise its benefits.
  3. Encourage Participation: Create a supportive atmosphere where children feel comfortable singing and expressing themselves.

Action-based songs are perfect for language delay. They often have a clear order to the activity or progression of the story, which helps to reinforce language skills like grammar and word order. Here are a few that you can easily introduce into your routine, knowing that it will support language development for the whole group in a fun, accessible way.

 

Songs For Language Development

Hokey Cokey

Action songs help to develop the skills we have discussed, like the neurological relationship between actions and words.

You put your left hand in

You put your left hand out

In-out, in-out, shake it all about

You do the hokey-cokey and you

Turn yourself around

That’s what it’s all about

 

Oh, hokey, cokey, cokey

Oh, hokey, cokey, cokey

Oh, hokey, cokey, cokey

Knees bent, arms stretched

Raa, raa, raa

 

You put your right hand in

You put your right hand out

In-out, in-out, shake it all about

You do the hokey-cokey and you

Turn yourself around

That’s what it’s all about

 

You put your left foot in

You put your left foot out

In-out, in-out, shake it all about

You do the hokey-cokey and you

Turn yourself around

That’s what it’s all about

 

You put your right foot in

You put your right foot out

In-out, in-out, shake it all about

You do the hokey-cokey and you

Turn yourself around

That’s what it’s all about

 

 

If You’re Happy And You Know It

This is another action-based song that reinforces actions with words. This is a wonderful way to encourage children to develop their understanding of explaining their actions and expressing their emotions.

 

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

If you’re happy and you know it

And you really want to show it

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

 

If you’re happy and you know it, stamp your feet

If you’re happy and you know it, stamp your feet

If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it

If you’re happy and you know it, stamp your feet

 

If you’re happy and you know, say we are: "we are"

If you’re happy and you know, say we are: "we are"

If you’re happy and you know, and you really want to show it

If you’re happy and you know, say we are: "we are"

 

If you’re happy and you know it, do all three:

Clap your hands, stamp your feet, say we are: "we are"

If you’re happy and you know it, do all three:

Clap your hands, stamp your feet, say we are: "we are"

If you’re happy and you know, and you really want to show it

If you’re happy and you know it, do all three:

Clap your hands, stamp your feet, say we are: "we are"

 

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

This is a very cleverly written song – the order of the body parts are not random but run from head to toe in order. Based on a very old, NSFW pub tune, this wonderful song reminds children to name the “it” or “that” to which they are pointing, and in this case, the body parts. As a memory game, the body parts can be omitted, but if you are wanting to support language development, the words should be sung as reinforcement.

 

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

And eyes and ears and mouth and nose

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

 

Click here to watch more of France's songs to promote language development!

Delayed language development can be a worrying diagnosis for parents because of the social and academic impact that it may have on their child, especially if the child is unable to verbally defend or explain themselves. It takes a conscientious, present educator to be able to create a safe environment from potential bullying or harm, and use a variety of strategies to support additional therapy.

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

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