There are few sights as uplifting as a room full of eager young children joyously singing their little lungs out. Heads thrown back, mouths wide open, eyes glisten with glee as their little bodies sway along in time with the music. For so many children, the chance to sing along in unison is a jubilant activity. Now, more schools and pre-schools are recognising the importance of singing and encouraging it as a daily activity, not only for enjoyment, but to improve learning and developmental outcomes as well.
A major research exercise was conducted on behalf of UK Group “Sing Up” and the findings demonstrated significant, measurable evidence on how singing contributes to children’s learning. Benefits were evident right across the curriculum, from well-being and health to language development and overall confidence. The research was carried out by the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE).
“Sing Up” is a national singing program that has a participation rate of in excess of 80% of primary schools throughout England that are making singing a part of daily life. The objective behind the program was to give every primary school child in the UK a chance to enjoy the learning and developmental benefits that singing can bring. The results from this program have been enormously successful and serve as inspiration to encourage singing as part of the education programs for all young children.
Increased engagement, and better learning outcomes
Through this program, many schools have incorporated singing into the curriculum, not just music lessons. The report has shown that by singing certain facts, in any subject, the child can more easily remember them. They “engage” with their learning material significantly more through singing than with traditional learning methods. An amazing 93% of school staff agreed that ‘singing supports children’s development of speech, language and communication’, according to the July 2011 online survey.
Some schools have also incorporated singing into their literacy training. The activities ranged from singing nursery rhymes to help with phonetic learning while other schools developed reading and writing skills by helping the children better familiarise themselves with pronunciation and sounds. Rhyming skills, along with the ability to compose poems were noted to have greatly increased after children had been exposed to singing activities. Maths and numeracy skills also achieved considerable improvements through the introduction of singing.
A chance to shine
Singing is a great equaliser. Particularly if a child is academically challenged or has special needs, singing gives the child a chance to shine brightly along with their peers. This equalising activity helps enormously to boost self-esteem, increases enjoyment and helps improve engagement amongst the class, which also assists with development of social skills. Many reported that the children benefited from a sense of belonging to a group and that it assisted with making them become better team players by listening and performing with others. Generally, including singing in the curriculum helps children to be “calmer and more focused”.
Children with special educational needs
Encouraging children to sing along at school also had a great effect on social and emotional development for young ones with special educational needs, or for those with developing language skills. The benefits were shown at almost all participating schools, regardless of whether English was the primary or secondary language.
Benefits worth singing about
The study found many benefits with the singing program, the more popular ones being:
- supports school cohesion
- supports curriculum learning
- helps pupils to concentrate in class
- contributes to a sense of well being
- supports children with special educational needs
- a generally fun activity for kids
- helps build self-esteem
- supports speech, language and communication development
More singing improves singing, too!
Finally, it has to be noted that the daily singing has another important, albeit obvious benefit. Children learn to sing, and the standard of singing since the implementation of this program has greatly improved. Connecting children with the joy of song is a wonderful thing!
Sage Institute of Child Care – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
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