Many little children, especially those from multilingual backgrounds, struggle with talking. Singing and musical activities can help these children gain more confidence about language. Singing makes them use words and terms that they would not otherwise have in their vocabularies.
Music also creates a sense of social fellowship in kindergarten.
Yet it is a problem that some kindergarten personnel do not feel comfortable singing and playing music with the children.
This finding emerged from research done by Anna Ehrlin. An assistant professor of didactics at Mälardalen University in Sweden, she has written her doctoral thesis on music in kindergartens.
Ehrlin was especially interested in how staff views music. Her study covered three kindergartens, two of which were known for specialising in music, while the last one did not. All three kindergartens had a high proportion of multilingual children.
REPETITION AND MIMICKING
The study shows that through repetition, mimicking and using movements, children practice using far more difficult terms than they use in conversations with other children or with staff.
‘I can’t say that the quality of language instruction is improved by means of music. My study too small to go that far. However, the results definitely point in the direction of this being an effective means of learning a new language’, comments the researcher.
“DO NOT LIKE SINGING WHEN OTHERS CAN HEAR”
Despite the fact that Ehrlin’s research included two kindergartens that specialise in music, several employees stated that in the beginning, they did not feel competent to lead singing and musical activities. Several had to build up their own self-confidence in this area. “I didn’t like singing when others could hear me”, was their usual comment.
‘I was very surprised by this. I didn’t think that I was going to encounter employees who would have to overcome their uncertainty about music in kindergartens that specialise in music.’
Ehrlin thinks that many kindergarten staff members have a notion that they should be able to offer music instruction on a level that is almost professional.
THE LEADER SETS THE TONE
Ehrlin’s study shows that skills development among kindergarten leaders and staff was absolutely decisive for whether music was popular in the kindergarten.
‘The head teachers in kindergartens should therefore be very aware of the part they play as role models’, she points out.
She suggests that singing and music must be an integral part of kindergarten teachers’ training in order for staff to feel sure of themselves in their work, and for music to gain an even more important position in day-to-day kindergarten activities.
‘That being the case, it matters how this is explained’, Ehrlin continues.
‘Music and singing should have a position in kindergarten because they are important per se. The children should experience the musical aspects of life and the well-being that comes from being part of the musical community.
‘In addition, singing is a tool for improving linguistic development and social fellowship,’ according to Ehrlin.