Early years music — the key to strong literacy foundations?

Could music hold the key for laying strong foundations for literacy in early years?

This is a sponsored post.

· How are neuroscience studies investigating the ‘musician’s advantage’?

· How does neuroscientific evidence indicate that music could hold the key for laying strong foundations for literacy in early years?

· Find out how to access tips for literacy boosting early years music activities and download a free taster Boogie Mites song — Let’s Tap a Word

Everyone knows that reading to your child and exposure to books in early years gives children a good start with their literacy. There is a lot of good promotion around encouraging parents to read with their children, but not so much around the benefits of music for developing strong foundations for literacy. However, there is a growing wealth of neuroscientific evidence to support this.

The musician’s advantage

Studies show us that early years music-making activities draw on various areas of the brain simultaneously. This facilitates many different aspects of development and provides one of the most effective influences on brain development at this key stage. Music is a multisensory experience that involves three ways of learning: auditory, visual and kinaesthetic. The brain is a multisensory organ, and this could partially explain the remarkable benefits that neuroscientists call the ‘musician’s advantage’ — i.e. music activates all three cortices of the brain; motor, visual and auditory.

Anita Collins, world renowned Australian researcher and writer in the field of music and the brain, described the effect of music “like fireworks going off in the brain […] music is a whole brain workout.” Following many years of research evaluating the findings of neuroscience studies into the ‘musician’s advantage’, she concluded that: Music education is the key to raising literacy and numeracy standards.” (For more information on the research undertaken by Anita Collins, visit anitacollinsmusic.com).

Laying strong foundations for literacy

Researchers at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory based at Canada’s North Western University have been working on a significant neuroscience project entitled “Brainvolts”. This project continues to provide evidence of music’s impact on the development of the neural pathways that support strong literacy skills.

Through a series of innovative studies involving thousands of research participants from birth to age 90, the researchers have found that our lives in sound shape the biological infrastructure of the auditory system. They find that the auditory system impacts generally on cognitive function but specifically on communication and literacy skills. They demonstrate that regular music practice refines the auditory processing system like no other activity.

We already know from research studies that phonological skills at age four are the best predictor of literacy skills at age eight. Phonological awareness is improved through music training, and regular music practice is just as effective, if not more effective, than training in phonics when it comes to reading success (‘Reading skills can be predicted based on auditory abilities’ — Hornikel, Chandrasekaran, Zecker, Kraus 2011).

Try it yourself

You don’t need to be a musician to lead literacy-boosting early years music-making activities; you just need the training and resources and the confidence will come with practice.

Boogie Mites writes songs and compiles music programmes to support learning in the EYFS. Our mission is to offer early years practitioners and families the knowledge, resources and confidence to harness the brain-boosting fun of active music-making to support learning in the EYFS.

Boogie Mites School Ready Literacy Programme links to the ‘7 Aspects of Letters and Sounds Phase 1’ and focuses on developing the auditory processing system to refine phonological awareness through music, laying strong foundations for literacy. The CD of 25 songs, training DVD, notes and link to online downloadable files equip you with the resources you need to deliver creative, engaging, progressive daily music practise throughout the pre-school year. We also offer inset training to support knowledge, confidence and implementation.

To find out more, email sue@boogiemites.co.uk or visit boogiemites.co.uk

To access tips for leading brain boosting music activities and to download a free trial Boogie Mites song — Let’s Tap a Word — register here.