Language development

Written by Jo Hood | Published

Language development

Tamariki/young children are drawn to activities with music, rhythm, and repetition. Waiata/singing to tamariki helps them develop early language and literacy skills including building their vocabulary, speech patterns, grammar, and pronunciation. When tamariki imitate actions and words, they are also improving their attention and listening skills, making eye contact, and learning to anticipate what comes next.

A musical experience is brain exercise for tamariki, enhancing their learning, focus, memory, and language.

One favourite activity in mainly music is to go around tamariki in the room and pakipaki clap (or tap claves) the syllables of their names or their favourite fruit/vegetable/animal. Try this at home as you’re eating lunch or while you travel. Have your tamaiti pakipaki something they see and you guess what it is.

Waiata slows language down and provides rhyme, alliteration, and repetition, so that tamariki start fostering their awareness of relationships between letters and sounds. Are you concerned about the speech development of your tamaiti? Be reassured that tamariki progress at different rates.

If you’ve had advice from Plunket, GP, or speech pathologist, tell us if your tamaiti is not meeting expected milestones. We’ll ask about their favourite waiata or activity so it can be used in the next block of sessions. Favourite waiata and activities can’t be incorporated all the time, but we’ll work with you as much as we can.

Beyond your mainly music or mainly play session, incorporate waiata and rhymes into every day by singing at regular transition times like tidy-up time, bath time and bedtime. This will help reinforce routines. Use traditional tunes to make up your own songs, using the activities happening during the day. Sing in the car. It doesn’t matter how well you think you sing; your tamaiti will enjoy joining in

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