Using songs to guide children through daily activities

There are some great messages about the joys of singing in old musicals. While you can’t burst into song for every situation (like the checkout queue or the car park!), singing can help guide children smoothly and happily through daily routines, activities and transitions.

Everyone keeps telling us how busy life is. Families are stressed rushing from one thing to the other. This can be especially true for families whose children experience disability: attending therapy sessions, playgroups, perhaps medical appointments. Then there’s work, shopping, chores and so on.

So where does singing come in?

Children love singing and most have favourite songs from an early age. I’m sure every parent has witnessed the power of music, including songs, to calm their child or cue joyful dancing. We can use this natural interest to turn routines and tasks, which may be more important to you than to your child, into a singing game. This can help take some of the stress out of situations such as getting ready to leave the house in the morning, strapping an unwilling toddler into a seatbelt, teeth cleaning and many other daily activities.

Just take a familiar tune and change the lyrics to suit the purpose. Not only will you be able to ease your child through a task or transition that he or she might find difficult or distressing, you will be using singing to provide a valuable learning experience.

Songs can help children’s language learning, their ability to break down a task into steps— good for cognitive development/problem solving—and their self-help skills. Most of all, sharing a moment of musical togetherness can turn boring tasks into a game and sometimes make tricky moments calmer and happier, just like Mary Poppins!

Don’t worry if you’re not an Australian Idol contestant—children love music and they love to share in doing things with you, regardless of your singing quality!

Here are a few examples you might like to try (the underlined sections can be adapted for whatever purpose you need):

Tune: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
Purpose: Teeth cleaning

This is the way we clean our teeth,

Clean our teeth, clean our teeth,

This is the way we clean our teeth,

To make them strong and shiny.

Tune: The Farmer in the Dell
Purpose: Crossing the road

Hold a grown up’s hand, hold a grown up’s hand

When cars are near the safest thing is to

Hold a grown up’s hand

Here’s a lovely little video about tidying up toys.

Perhaps you’ve already discovered the magic of music with your children.  There’s always space in the day for an extra song! Happy singing.

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