Why I Use Music in a Sign Language Class
I am often asked why I use music in a sign language class. Since I am teaching to a mostly hearing subset I use music in every lesson, different songs and different artists. I want to be able to reach the children and parents on multiple levels and with multiple learning modalities. No one wants to sit in a class for 40 minutes and not have any music. When driving in the car don’t you put on some tunes to connect to your kids, relax from a stressful day, or engage yourself on a long drive? I know that I do. Music is a fun and engaging way to review and learn new vocabulary. While your little one is bouncing around and dancing they are learning important skills.
Dancing is a great way to work on gross motor skills. Those are the ones that you will use later in life for sports, balance, and on the playground. Signing and using nursery rhymes creates phonetic awareness- a key aspect in literacy. Music is built around patterns, and children will learn to anticipate them. Staying on a beat helps with number sequencing and early math skills. Dancing and singing in a room works on social speaking skills. Repetition like a chorus is key in learning speech modalities and patterns. Creative expression is just a side benefit.
Using instruments works on hand and eye coordination. Using percussion instruments can help kids work on opposites fast and slow, loud and soft. Rhythm sticks can be used to discover that similar objects hitting together can produce different noises. Sand Bottles can make noises and help children understand weight and size perspectives. Egg Shakers can be used for little hands learning to grasp.
There has been research that shows children who listen to music have richer experiences in life. There is also a school of thought that says listening to music can help build important neural pathways. What I do know is that learning with music is FUN.