What Do You Do When Toddlers Won’t Sing?


In my workshops on music activities for toddlers, teachers
often say to me, “My toddlers just sit there and stare when
I’m singing! How can I get them to sing along?”

It can be frustrating when you’re gamely singing “The Wheels
on the Bus” all by yourself while a group of adorable but very
quiet toddlers are staring at you  – with no apparent interest in
singing along! You may be tempted to give up – but don’t.
Singing provides a multitude of benefits for growing toddlers.

When toddlers sing, they’re practicing language skills in a
playful, enjoyable way. Singing also benefits toddlers physically.
It’s an aerobic activity which exercises major muscle groups in
the upper body, even while sitting.  Best of all, when toddlers
sing with you and with each other, it strengthens the emotional
and social bonds of the group – nothing creates good feelings like
singing a fun song together!

Here are some tips to get those quiet toddlers to join in the fun
of singing:

            1) Smile and show enthusiasm! You may have sung
“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” hundreds of times, but it’s a
brand-new experience for your toddlers. Imagine it’s your
favorite song  and put some feeling into it!

            2) Observe your toddlers’ responses. Is Tanisha nodding
her head and bouncing to the beat? Bounce along with her and
smile. Nurture toddlers’ musical participation by supporting
their self-expression.

            3) Sing at a moderate pace, and enunciate the words
clearly. Remember, your students are still learning the language!
If you were learning a song in a foreign language, you’d need to
hear it sung fairly slowly – they do too.

            4) Don’t forget the value of a prop or puppet to focus the
group’s attention on the song – it might toy farm animals when
singing “Old MacDonald,” or a monkey puppet singing “Five
Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.”

The quiet children in your group may not join in singing right
away. But don’t worry.  They’re listening to every word, and if
you keep singing, they’ll be singing along with you before you
know it.

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