Parents and educators share the goal of wanting their children (students) to learn and they both intrinsically understand that children learn and grow best in enriching environments. That is why couples move to better school districts and sign their children up for extracurricular activities. That is why great teachers strive to create dynamic and stimulating classrooms and lesson plans. Songs enrich the process of learning new information because they organize the information in a meaningful way and provide opportunities for repetition — two operations that experts like Sanders and colleagues suggest are components of encoding.
Without getting too scientific, encoding is the processing of information that is to be learned. The quality of the encoding process lends itself to the successful retrieval (learning) of information (Kimbarow, 52). According to research presented in a study by Ferreri and colleagues, music engages the entire brain, which facilitates additional stimulation that can enrich the encoding of information. This suggests that the presence of music during the initial phases of learning could lead to better learning due to increased stimulation in all areas of the brain.
If music itself can enrich learning, then so must music embedded with words: song. Research from the study referenced above suggests, "Text is better recalled when heard as a song rather than speech, suggesting that musical context can assist in learning and retrieving words." Use of song as an educational tool is effective because it creates a meaningful representation of the information being presented, which increases the strength of the memory of the content and supports the likelihood for recall. Additionally, songs can introduce new language to a child's vocabulary that can translate into other areas of their schooling and overall development.
Science aside, children learn better when they are engaged. It does not take a scientist to prove that a child will be more engaged in a sing-along than they would be listening to directions. Perhaps the primary goal is not to enrich, but to engage, so that the enrichment can occur. Songs disguise learning as a fun, interactive, and sometimes silly experience; the learning of a concept or a routine develops as a result.
Educational songs are useful in both school and home settings. There are a number of resources on the Internet where you can access video and audio clips of popular songs. However, parents and teachers should not feel limited to what they find there. Be creative. Children may respond better to songs with personally relevant content, and they may enjoy collaborating with you in the development of an original song.
Here are a list of the most popular educational songs on the Internet today and a link to the site they were retrieved from:
- "A Counting We Will Go"
- "Old Macdonald Had a Farm"
- "Days of the Week"
1st – 3rd Grade: (http://www.educationandbehavior.com/educational-songs-for-elementary-school-kids/)
- "Solar System Song"
- "Count by Fives Song"
- "Nouns Rock"
General school-age: (http://www.teachhub.com/educational-music-videos)
1. "Teach Me How to Study"
2. "U.S. States and Capitals Song"
3. "Gotta Keep Reading"