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How to Bond with Young Children through Songs, Rhymes and Books

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How to Bond with Young Children through Songs, Rhymes and Books

Ever since my children were young, I have been exposing them extensively to the sound of language. I talk, sing and interact with them so they are exposed to the sound of words, rhythm in speech and different emotional tones in voice.

Singing songs and reciting rhymes are a great way to introduce language to your child. I recall my own childhood listening to Cantonese rhymes, such as “点虫虫,虫虫飞”. As a child, I didn’t understand what it meant, but I had much fun hearing it repeated over and over again.

 I sang to my children frequently when they were infants. One of my favourite bedtime songs was ‘You Are My Sunshine’. I would sing it softly and gently to lull them to sleep. Sometimes it worked, but at other times my singing gave them the assurance that I was there with them.

Another rhyme we often played with was ‘Round and Round the Garden’. It is a little rhyme about a teddy bear and I would often interact with my child as I recited the rhyme. I would take my child’s hand and open up her palm. With my finger, I would trace circles on the palm and recite,   ‘Round and Round the Garden, went the Teddy Bear’. Then, I let my index finger and middle finger ‘walk’ down the length of her arm and I would say playfully, ‘One step, two steps’. This last part is the best part as I would ‘walk my fingers’ down the arm towards her armpit, tickle my child while exclaiming, ‘Tickle under there!’.

Reading to Bond

There was no lack of books in the house. When my child was able to sit up, I would place her in my lap and read a board book or cloth book to her. She had a favourite cloth book. This cloth book had many different textures and interactive elements like pulling out ribbons, opening a door and looking into a reflective surface. Of course, sometimes the cloth book was ‘consumed’ in a different manner, where she would put it into her mouth!

Here are some of my tips for choosing books which are suitable for infants and toddlers

  • Choose books that are colourful and attractive. This will keep their attention.

  • Choose books that engage the 5 senses, especially sight, sound and touch. These interactive elements will stimulate your child.

  • Choose books that can be easily cleaned and do not have hazardous bits that might lead to choking. Children at this age are prone to dropping things on the floor or putting things into their mouths. Books that are sturdy and easy to clean will serve you better.

  • Remember that this is precious bonding time for you and your child. When you sing a song, recite a rhyme or share a book with your child, it is not so much about teaching your child how to read or increasing their vocabulary, but more about enjoying quality time with your child.

Enjoying these moments with your child will also develop in your child, a love for the activities that you have done together.

I recall a valuable lesson I had learnt. One day, my 3-year-old grabbed a book and insisted that I read it to her. When I opened the book, my little one stopped me. Then she wriggled into my lap, sat there comfortably and urged me to continue reading. For her, it was not about the book, but the feeling of security and physical touch that made the reading experience enjoyable for her.

In a nutshell, here are some tip for parents of young kids:

  • Engage with them through songs – simple ones that are repetitive and have simple tunes You can even fill in your own words to a familiar tune

  • Fingerplays – hand movements that accompany a song or rhyme. For example, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’

  • Books – Find books with interesting textures and interactive elements

  • Use the library as your resource – There are many board books for infants and toddlers in the Early Literacy section of your local library

Lastly, remember that there is no designated time to do any of these activities. Any time is a good opportunity to sing, play and read together.

Remember it is all about enjoying the sounds of language and creating an experience that you and your child can enjoy together.

Additional Resources for Parents:

  1. Libraries: The local library is a treasure trove of books for children. Search their website for age-specific recommendations. https://www.nlb.gov.sg/SearchDiscover/ExploreourPublications/RecommendedReads/ForChildren/MoreBookstoREAD!0to12months.aspx https://www.nlb.gov.sg/SearchDiscover/ExploreourPublications/RecommendedReads/ForChildren.aspx

Writer’s Profile:

Worked as a programme officer in Fei Yue Community Services, Karen Lee is a parent and a professional storyteller. She has told stories to people of ages 3 to 60 and above in childcare centres, schools and eldercare centres as well as in storytelling festivals in Singapore, Penang and other countries. She loves to bring the joy of stories to her audience and hopes to pass that joy to her listeners so they too can share stories with those around them.