MUSIC, a 5-letter word that helps us in so many ways. Music can help us feel relaxed, express our feelings or simply helps us to feel good and motivated. Most of us can’t resist the power of music. This goes especially to all our children. People connect with music in a special way and this is why many children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) respond to music even though they don’t respond to the sound of your voice.
Since most of our children (if not all) love music, it becomes easier for her to learn how to communicate in musical activities, especially songs. All the songs, they have repetitive words, predictable actions and turns for both teachers and the children. In your case, for both you and your child to take. Children naturally move their bodies to the rhythm of a song, which makes it easier for them to perform actions like clapping, stomping and jumping up and down.
Why is music beneficial to our children?
- Music can help children interact with other children.
- Music can help children to understand the meaning of words by pairing words with action.
- Music can help children to pay attention.
- Music can help the children to copy words and actions.
- Music can help the children to communicate.
In Bridging the Gap, our daily routine activities include music. From saying hello and goodbye, to transition from gym to classroom, to coloring a picture, to cleaning up – all of these are partnered with a song. We find it very effective in building our children’s routine. Therefore, we will share you some easy steps on how to make music help you at home in terms of enhancing your child’s communicative skill.
- REPEAT WHAT YOU SING AND DO
Always make use of the familiar nursery rhymes. Start by singing the first few words and, to make is easier for your child to identify the song, add an action or show your child an object associated with a song. For example, you want to sing “Twinkle, twinkle”, you can put your hands and do a blinking hand action of open and close. Often times, we would show different pictures of nursery rhyme songs on a board for them to choose which one they want to sing. End your songs by shouting, “HOORAY!” and extending your arms above your head.
- OFFER OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR CHILD TO TAKE A TURN
Plan when you will offer your child a turn. Nursery rhymes are naturally broken down into small steps with logical places for your child to take turn. Make sure you offer your child his/her turn at the same place each time you sing. Your child can take many kinds of turns in songs. Depending on his/her stage, your child can ask for a bounce on your knee when you stop, look at you while you sing, sing a word after you or sing whole lines of the song along with you. Always watch out for the useful words and sentences into your song so that your child can lift and reuse those words in other situations.
- CUE YOUR CHILD TO TAKE HER TURN
Remember to give explicit cues when your child doesn’t know how to take her turn. During the initial learning process, you need to give your child verbal and physical prompting. You can highlight the prompting by slowing it down and then exaggerate the movements afterwards. After your child has learned the song many times, lean forward and show your “waiting” face as a sign for your child’s turn. If your child doesn’t understand it, give more obvious cues.
- KEEP IT FUN!
Songs always make everything fun! It helps it boosting up one’s mood. Children naturally enjoy the rhythm, melody and action. You can take advantage of it by picking songs with action that particularly get your child’s attention. You can create different sound effects while singing the songs. You can add “hooray!” or “yippee” or “wuhooo” while singing. This adds up to the fun!
Music can really create wonders. It does magic. The best way is to sing popular and easy songs that your child can relate and sing along to. Whatever it is that you are doing, you can make use of these popular nursery rhyme songs and change the lyrics accordingly. You would see the difference on how your child works and accomplish whatever activity you are doing. This also works best if you are trying to create a new routine!