If you find yourself sprinting for the nearest exit every time you hear Bing Cosby's "White Christmas," we've got some news that might stop you in mid-stride: holiday songs can be good for your kids.
Whether participating in organized sing-alongs and or spontaneous warbling to piped-in music in the mall, young children register real gains from singing, experts say.
Here are three suggestions from Susan Canizares, the chief academic officer at child care provider Learning Care Group, on how to help your young kids learn as they sing along. She says these principals work best for kids age 0 to five years:
- Singing with your toddlers will help improve their reading skills. "There are a whole bunch of prerequisite, early literacy skills that need to be developed in the preschool and pre-kindergarten years, and one of the best ways to do that is through children having fun singing," Canizares says. This process allows children to play and hear the sounds of language — an important step in building strong readers.
- Allow your young kids to sing songs over and over and over again. Even if it drives you batty, the process of practicing and repeating songs helps kids learn. Canizares says this type of exposure to language is key when kids develop the ability to match written letters with sounds and later to read. "By singing those songs over and over again, they're beginning to listen to the different sounds that are in words," she says.
- Let your kids make up words to the songs. Once your kids have mastered their favorite songs, Canizares suggests encouraging their imaginations to run wild. Let them incorporate new phrases or words into a tune they know well. This sort of playful experience with language will help improve their reading skills later on. The goal is to expose your young kids to as much language as possible. Research shows this exposure affects literacy rates as they grow.
Wondering where to take your kids singing? You can catch several upcoming sing-alongs in Southern California:
• The Music Center Holiday Sing-Along
Friday, Dec. 19, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Music Center in downtown Los Angeles
Free tickets are distributed starting at 6 pm.
• LA Phil's Holiday Sing-Along with special guest Drew Carey
Dec. 20, various times
Walt Disney Concert Hall, downtown Los Angeles
Tickets start at $37
• Holiday Singalong and Ugly Sweater Contest
Friday, Dec. 19, 6 p.m.
Bank of Books, an independent-family owned bookstore in Malibu
Can't remember the lyrics to songs? The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers an online kids resource for holiday songs that lists lyrics to classics like "The Christmas Song" and "Auld Lang Syne."
To learn more about music and the brain, join us at a KPCC Crawford Family Forum on Jan. 25 for a discussion and performance by the Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra. The event is free and reservations can be made here.