Using Rhythm and Rhyme to Build Listening Skills
We might think of rhythm and rhyme as a great way to get the body active and moving. Catchy words and a beat that creates a moving cadence can be hard to ignore. The body begins to move and before you know it, you’re swaying to the rhythm and chanting in unison with the words.
Rhythmic Brain Food
But catchy rhymes and rhythm do far more than get the body moving; they also stimulate both sides of the brain to work in unison; an action that is beneficial to children with auditory processing disorder (APD).
Words, phrases, and beats that make up catchy rhymes all work to stimulate a growing brain. Poems and even chants encourage both halves of the brain to communicate with each other. The left part of the brain controls language and vocabulary, while the right half of the brain controls rhythm, inflection, and language patterns.
Favorite songs and rhymes can not only change a child’s disposition, but they provide the perfect mix for a child’s learning and listening needs. Here’s some advice you can give to parents of your youngest patients.
Key Benefits of Rhythm and Rhymes
You’ve likely taught numerous nursery rhymes and rhyming songs to your child without much thought to how it stimulates them. Rhymes are one of the oldest and most reliable teaching tools available to parents, teachers, and speech-language pathologists.
Parents with children of APD can make use of some of the benefits below:
- Sharing, listening, and repeating are the foundations for conversation. Rhymes help children practice the social activity of listening and speaking to another person.
- Rhyming exposes children to new vocabulary and expressions. As they get older these will lead to more complex reading and spelling skills.
- The characteristics of rhyming, learning, memorizing, and repeating, touch on almost every aspect of listening that may be affected by APD.
- Nursery rhymes provide children with APD a way to practice easy, understandable speech in a fun way.
Rhythm and Rhyme at Home
Rhyming is engaging and fun for both you and your child. Nursery rhymes give children words sounds that they will want to imitate and will remember. The differences and likeness between rhymes and words stand out in nursery rhymes. This helps children understand contrast and variety in word sounds.
Children learn how to rhyme through listening and repetition. Practicing rhymes with your children reinforces many of the skills a speech-language pathologist works with your child on. The following are just a few tips to incorporate at home:
- At first, speak slowly and invite your child to repeat after you. Children need time to process and understand the words.
- Teach your child any moves or actions that accompany the rhyme by holding their hands or moving their arms or legs gently in time with the lyrics. Over time you can ask them to do the actions on their own with you.
- Act silly and praise their efforts while you sing together.
- Children need to hear a rhyme over and over before they can connect and repeat them on their own. You may get tired of the repetition so have patience. Each time you help them through a rhyme you are reinforcing important skills and building new ones.
Children with APD will do better when the activities combine several of their senses at the same time. Anything you can do to bring rhymes to life and boosts what they feel, see, and hears makes rhyming time quality learning time.