How Keeping the Beat Helps Children Become Better Readers

Category: Bookbug
Tagged: parents, music

New research from the University of Cambridge has discovered that the ability to hear beats in music is an extremely strong predictor of reading ability. A child who is able to keep a steady beat will naturally be a better reader.

Reading is all about breaking down letters, sounds and syllables. Keeping a beat does the same - it teaches us to segment, break down sounds and listen carefully. Beat and music, which go hand in hand, help young children to become better readers. Music teaches our ears to hear and our minds to pattern.

Babies become aware of sounds before they are born and start hearing at about 18 weeks' gestation. The mother’s heartbeat is one of the first sounds a baby will hear. We’re all born with a sense of beat – it is in us at birth.

But as we make it into the busy and chaotic world, as we become exposed to even more sounds and signals, our sense of beat can, pardon the pun, get beaten out of us. It’s important for the development of our young children that we engage them with songs and music. Engaging with simple songs and melodies will reinforce the sense of beat we’re all born with. Clap along, tap along or dance along. Whatever you do, find a way to feel the beat.

Bookbug Sessions are a great way to get started with songs and rhymes. Bookbug Session Leaders will clap along throughout various songs and rhymes. Clap your hands to let the baby hear the beat of a song, but also try tapping their legs gently so they’ll get a chance to feel the beat. If you’ve never been to a Bookbug Session before, you can find more information and listing by local authority here.

The ability to hear beat is a key factor in the development of reading and spelling. But as this new research suggests, it could also be a key to overcoming dyslexia.

Music is a part of all cultures. It brings us together and motivates us emotionally. It’s hard not to respond by tapping a foot, swaying to the music or even humming along. So sing, rhyme, clap and tap – have fun finding the beat.