Keep calm and sing on
I had a perplexing conversation with my almost three year old, Lewis, a couple of weeks ago.
He was repeatedly asking me to “sing the hero song”. Requiring very little encouragement for an impromptu performance, I obligingly started to belt out Mariah Carey’s Hero, falling short of several high notes but compensating for it in sheer enthusiasm.
“No, not that one,” Lewis said, clearly unappreciative of the level of vocal difficultly required by my effort.
Unperturbed, I immediately launched into an acapella version of My Hero that I expect Dave Grohl would’ve been similarly indifferent to.
“No mummy! The hero song!”
OK, he must mean Wind beneath my wings circa Beaches. I took a deep breath and started my impassioned rendition: “Did you ever know that you’re my heeeeerrrr-oooe?”
“No Mummy! The HERO song!” Lewis was quite irritated now.
Over the next 40 minutes I sang every song known to man that contained the word hero in the lyrics at least four times. Both frustrated, and Lewis realising that his mummy didn’t in fact know the hero song, we eventually gave up and moved on to something else.
Later that day, on the toilet no less, I heard him gleefully singing a Hero song mashup that Mariah, Dave and Bette would’ve been proud of. And so was I.
Research shows that children surrounded by daily activities such as reading, singing and sharing rhymes will experience more comprehensive vocabulary, language and cognitive development before they start formal kindergarten and school programs. A recent University of Queensland study reiterates demonstrating music participation at home improves numeracy, prosocial skills and attention, in some cases, over and above the effects of shared book reading.
One of the study lead’s and head of UQ’s School of Music Professor Margaret Barrett said parents were asked to report on shared music activities when their child was two to three years old and a range of social, emotional and cognitive outcomes were measured two years later.
“Children who experienced more frequent parent-child music activity at two to three years showed stronger vocabulary and numeracy skills, more prosocial skills and stronger abilities to regulate their own attention and emotion at four to five years old,” Professor Barrett said.
“The study highlights that informal music education in early childhood is a vital tool for supporting the cognitive and social development of children.”
So what does this mean for the mummies and daddies at home? It means, simply keep on singing! As bad as you think it sounds, as much as you might frighten your neighbours or scare the cat, research shows this simple activity can have a profound effect on your child’s development.
In the car several weeks later, Katy Perry’s Roar came on the radio. “The hero song!” exclaimed Lewis excitedly. [Lyrics: “I went from zero, to my own hero”. How did I miss that one?!]
Another song to add to the ever-expanding mashup.
Melita, Mother of Lewis aged 3 and Jack aged 1.