To teach new vocabulary and concepts
Remember songs like "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes?" These songs are still around because kids love them and they are a great teaching tool. Pairing songs with gestures (like touching your head and other body parts) supports the words your children understand and use. If you are a creative type, go ahead and make-up your own songs!
To make routines and non-preferred activities a little more exciting
Does your child hate tooth-brushing? Taking a long time to clean-up? Here's a secret most SLPs, teachers and other professionals working with young children know: adding songs to activities often makes them infinitely more fun. Google and YouTube can help you find plenty of songs for anything from cleaning up to self-help routines. When faced with a tough transition (such as leaving the swing to give another child a turn), making up a song is one of my favorite tricks. Put a phrase about what you are doing to a tune that you know (e.g., "We put shoes on and walk" when getting ready to go out the door) and run with it.
To practice speech sounds and letter-to-sound correspondence
Songs provide a fun way for your child to gain awareness of and practice different speech sounds. In addition, you can help your child learn what sounds the letters of the alphabet make through songs like "Every Letter Makes a Sound" (The B says "buh," the B says "buh," every letter makes a sound the B says "buh").
To support gesture use and pretend play
The use of gestures (like pointing, pretending to drink from a cup, etc.,) are linked to language development. Pairing songs with gestures can help your child gain a variety of gestures. In addition, your child will learn that gestures can be used to pretend by engaging in actions and being different characters and animals.
Again, not every parent is comfortable singing and creating songs. However, I encourage you to give it a try. Not only will you help your child's speech and language development, but you may find a new favorite way to bond with your child.
How do you use songs and music at home?