Compelling research has shown that rhythm, rhyme and repetition fire neurons in the left and right sides of the brain and prepare children to read. Babies are born with all the neurons they will ever have. As they learn, neurons become connected. As neurons connect, learning becomes easier. Parents and teachers interpret this as a “smarter child”. If neurons do not become connected through multi-sensory stimulation, some are eventually lost. It is important for children to participate.
The three R’s before reading: rhythm, rhyme and repetition fire neurons in the brain using multi-sensory stimulation, increase the network of dendrites between neurons and make learning easier for children.
The “synapse” is the space between dendrites. The synapse never connects. Instead it “fires” like a spark plug. As neurons fire, they become interconnected and the connections become more permanent. Without firing, the dendrites cannot increase the webs between neurons and some neurons eventually dissipate.
Firing starts when the brain is stimulated by the environment through multi-sensory stimulation. If there is insufficient stimulation, firing will not happen. There must be multi-sensory stimulation for lasting learning to take place. Using one sense, such as listening to music or watching TV or a DVD, provides some stimulation, but it is minimal. Examples of multi-sensory stimulation include listening to a book being read with music in the background, singing a song about the story in the book, listening to music and dancing to the beat, chanting the words in the book, repeating rhyming verses in the book, clapping, dancing while listening to “toe tapping” music pertaining to the book.
Intelligence is not fixed at birth. Experience shapes the brain. The type of input determines the growth of specific areas of the brain. Multi-sensory experience repeated over and over again, establishes new neuron connections and develops the brain.
Rhythm is found in music and musical sounds, moving and dancing to the beat. Children will literally get up on their feet and start moving when they hear “foot tapping” music. It is important to combine language with movement and music. Listening to a book being read will provide some stimulation, but it is not enough to make a lasting effect. More is needed.
Rhyming verses provide patterns. Patterns are found in poetry and music. Combining patterns in music, rhyming verses, and movement create multi-sensory stimulation. The more senses involved, the more lasting the impression on the child and the more the neurons fired. A book is a wonderful opportunity for children to be introduced to language. Children can learn by looking at pictures. They can also learn by listening to someone read the words and follow along in the book. However, to have a child’s attention and not give the child a full multi-sensory experience is missing a wonderful opportunity.
Children like to repeat pleasant experiences over and over again. They enjoy patterns, rhythm, rhyme, and music. They can feel what they hear all through their bodies. But what they don’t realize is the sensations they are feeling are developing their brain. Neurons are connecting, forming lasting networks.
Children crave participation. It can be a very small piece of the activity, but it is the child’s opportunity to perform. Chanting verses in a book, answering questions about a book, being allowed to act out parts in a book, dancing and anything else an adult or child can create, makes the experience more meaningful. If a child participates, the child will want to read that particular book over and over again.
National Assoc. for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Early Years Are Learning Years
While music is a great way to introduce new words, it can also contribute to children’s progress and learning in many different areas: self-expression, cooperative play, creativity, emotional well being, and development of social, cognitive, communication and motor skills.
University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, Ages 3 to 5: Setting the stage for Reading
“Several studies have shown convincingly that singing and language skills are interconnected”, says Robert A. Cutietta, dean and professor of music education. The patterns of words, rhymes, and tonal qualities inherent in songs are incorporated easily and naturally by children as they learn to speak and eventually to read.
University of Connecticut, Linda Page Neelly, associate professor of music, has done extensive research on the links between music and literacy development. “As your child sings”, she explains, “he begins to explore, sequence and order sounds, which are critical skills for reading”.
British Columbia School District, Lanley, Research Forum article, 1994. Music is a kind of language with its own logic and syntax. Studies have shown that music increases academic achievement on a number of different fronts, including language writing skills. Literacy is about the fluent use of a language. Music is demonstrably a language. Whole language methods and techniques for teaching language literacy are showing that music plays an integral role in developing language.
Animalations series of books is designed for language development through multi-sensory stimulation of the brain. Language is developed by using rhythm, rhyme and repetition. The musical CD’s provide children an opportunity to participate by singing along and dancing to the music. Most Animalations books have a personal development and/or moral theme that promotes socialization skills in young children.
Animalations language program includes children’s books, printed in full color.Each book comes with an original musical CD. Animals come alive to tell the story through rhythm, rhyme and music. Animalations books are unique. The original song on the musical CD sings the words in the book. By learning the words to the songs, the child is able to read along as the book is read. Before long, the child is able to read every word in the book.